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Weronika Szmyt

Weronika says that Chartered accountancy appealed to her, because it is a prestigious career with a lot to offer and many options in the future!

Weronika Symt

Weronika Szmyt Audit Associate, BDO UK LLP

ICAEW route: Graduate

Industry: Audit and assurance

Location: Leeds

Weronika's story...

Tell us about your career journey and what you do day-to-day in your role

I did a placement year in 2019 at Grant Thornton in Public Sector Audit. Back then I wasn’t sure if this was the career pathway for me, but after doing more research in my third year of uni, I decided to train in audit as I definitely wanted to pursue the ACA qualification. After I had graduated, I started at BDO as an audit trainee in Commercial Audit. My day to day role is all about analysing the financial statements – I like to describe it to non-finance people simply as checking accountant’s work! This includes working in excel, analysing data, managing relationship with the clients, coaching less experienced colleagues. I work on different projects and teams nearly every week, which adds to the variety and makes the job more interesting. 

Why did you choose the ACA over other accounting qualifications?

I remember myself when I was back at university, speaking with my tutors and trying to understand the differences between the accounting qualifications, but I still felt a bit lost. I connected the dots as soon as I was in a corporate environment (on the placement) and everyone recommended ACA to me - because it is the most prestigious and the hardest qualification to do. It is simply the best – and I couldn’t agree more!

Who or what inspired you to become a chartered accountant?

I didn’t have any role model in my family who was an accountant. I always imagined myself as overseeing and managing some sort of business and I really enjoyed topics such as finance, economics and business. I was always curious about the accountants. I remember I thought to myself at 16 years old ‘I think I want to work in finance’ and despite having lots of different ideas about what to do with my life, this one stuck with me and here I am today!

Our accountants are more than you’d imagine. They challenge the traditional accountancy routes and career paths. They have an innovative approach and skill to their work. How does your career path, attitude and skillset support this?

I work as an auditor, not accountant, which I always like to emphasise! Audit constantly changes and our firm comes up with different innovative solutions to optimise our work and make in more efficient, for example in data analytics, which is really awesome. I am also a very outgoing person, which helps with speaking to the clients and I think that audit is great for character building and it boosted my confidence, especially by dealing with a bit more difficult individuals. I also love learning new things and continuously improving myself and that attitude is required in this job as the approaches to auditing change all the time and what you learnt about one thing couple months ago might already be outdated and there is a new ‘way’ of doing things, so you need to be really adaptive. I also have good problem-solving skills and critical thinking, which is a core of our audit work – analysing the facts and figures to form a judgement and decide in which direction we should proceed. 

Do you think there is such a thing as a stereotypical accountant? If so, how do you challenge this stereotype?

Definitely – many people think accountants are ‘boring’, but there is just so much more to us and I think we are very interesting people – accountants need many different skills and they need to have a very extensive knowledge about the accounting standards and how to apply them, which is impressive. They are also the ‘brains’ of running the business and they know everything about it, which is far more interesting than just crunching numbers!

Why did you decide to go down the route you did?

Coming from a different country, at the time, I did not know there were other options of becoming a chartered accountant without doing a degree in finance. However, I think I gave me a head start in terms of the exams and understanding the work compared to non-finance graduates, therefore I am very grateful that I studied accounting and finance at university – I feel like it helped me to gain the discipline required for studying ACA too.

What do you love the most about what you do?

I love working with different colleagues and projects on a weekly basis; learning new business models; learning new things every single day; dealing with the challenges that we face and how it requires us to come up with different solutions; the social side of being an audit trainee in a big accounting firm – and many more!

At ICAEW, we encourage applicants from all backgrounds. What skills do you bring to your career due to your degree/or other studies and why did chartered accountancy appeal to you?

I think my academic background is quite ‘standard’ as I did a degree in finance, however, my personal background is definitely different as I come from Poland and I have no accountants in my family! I think because of moving to the UK by myself at a young age, I have great problem solving and resourcefulness skills, which really help with the work I do. Chartered accountancy appealed to me, because it is a prestigious career with a lot to offer and many options in the future!