As we are celebrating 5 days of women, we spent 5 minutes with Heather Ancient, PwC Partner to ask her 5 questions to find out more about her ....
Q1. Did you always want to be an accountant?
In truth, no. I tried a few things before becoming an accountant and originally trained as a maths teacher.
I moved to Devon in 1987 with my husband and together we bought and ran a village shop in Stoke Fleming while starting our family.
While running the family business, it was actually our accountant who suggested accountancy as a good career path to consider. So not being one to shy away from challenge, I studied an accountancy correspondence course, whilst still running the business and raising our young family. I trained the hard way! But enjoyed being able to apply the theoretical side of my studies to our own small business.
Q2. What advantage do you think your career choices has given you?
For me, the advantage of coming into PwC from running my own business is I understand the challenges of running a privately owned family business, the importance of client service, managing your cashflow and the local marketplace.
I know what it is like on the other side, what used to keep me awake at night. I adapted what I was doing in my own business to PwC, only on a larger scale - which means I can work with others to help them achieve their goals.
Q3. What do you most enjoy about your role?
The great thing about my role is the variety, which I love - meeting with and learning about fascinating, innovative and growing businesses. I get to work alongside our sector specialists and thinking about the art of the possible. Plus working with inspiring people and teams.
Q4. What advice would you give to others if they are considering a change in career but have some reservations?
After I qualified, I joined Coopers & Lybrand once we had sold the business. I loved running our business and also loved Devon. From my studies I found a new passion - I was fortunate to have a supportive family network who encouraged me to take the leap from business owner to accountant - I would encourage others to follow your ambitions, be brave to give something new a go ... look for a mentor - someone who can help you. Listen to your accountant's business advice!!
Q5. What is your role at PwC now?
I am an office senior partner working in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset leading a range of assurance services with my teams including external audit, internal audit, risk management and corporate governance reviews to a variety of companies from small private businesses to large publicly funded organisations. One of the biggest changes I have seen in my time with the firm is how we work, especially the level of investment in innovation and technology particularly over the last few years. This has enabled us to respond to feedback from our clients in how we work with them but also providing every day flexibility for our staff.