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Can you start by introducing yourself?

My name is Lee and I currently hold the position of Senior Manager of Financial Accounting and Compliance at BDO. I've been with the company since April 2022.

Can you share your past experiences and roles that led you to your current position at BDO?

My career has been quite a journey. I actually began my professional life training to be a chef because I had a passion for cooking and baking. However, as I delved into the world of work, it became clear that culinary arts might not be my long-term path. I transitioned into banking, specialising in mortgage advice and financial planning for prominent banks and building societies.

What inspired this change?

It was a friend I met through martial arts, who happened to be a chartered accountant. We often discussed our careers, and his insights led me to start studying accountancy. From there, I ventured into accounts payable roles and took on responsibilities in smaller treasury functions for a well-known retailer. Over time, I moved through various positions within internal finance functions, including roles at a major airline and a global insurer. BDO is now one of the larger organisations I've worked for.

How did your background as a chef influence your career in finance?

Surprisingly, there were some transferable skills. Working as a chef taught me to handle high-pressure situations, remain calm in busy environments, and even inject some humour to keep things light. These skills proved valuable in finance, where multitasking and managing pressure are essential.

What was it that first drew you to BDO?

I learned about the opportunity at BDO through an old manager who had joined the firm earlier. We had occasional dinners and kept in touch, which gave me insights into the company's culture and values. BDO's emphasis on allowing employees to be themselves at work and fostering a diverse environment was appealing to me. Having a connection already at the company made the transition smoother.

How have your perceptions about accountants changed since joining BDO?

Before joining BDO, I, like many, had certain preconceived notions about accountants being very formal and business-like. I expected a more rigid environment. However, upon joining, I discovered a more relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. While we take our work seriously, there's room for individuality, and people have diverse lives outside of the office.

Could you tell us more about your interests outside of work?

Gardening is a recent passion that developed when I found myself with more free time. I received some free seeds in the mail, and I thought, "Why not give it a try?" It has become a therapeutic hobby that allows me to unwind and connect with nature. As for martial arts, it's been a part of my life for many years. I practice and teach martial arts, which not only keeps me physically fit but also helps me maintain mental balance and discipline.