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Welcome to the insightful journey of James, a Senior Manager in Audit at BDO Southampton. With a background rooted in Accounting and Finance, James embarked on his professional journey, joining BDO to explore new horizons. His tenure at BDO has been marked by personal growth, lasting friendships, and the opportunity to shape his role. Through this candid Q&A, James offers a glimpse into his daily life, challenges, and aspirations, shedding light on the dynamic world of audit and life at BDO.

Man standing on a balcony in Venice

Hi James, so you're an Audit Senior Manager now, but what was your background before joining BDO?

Hi!  Well, firstly, I didn't know what I wanted to do after I left college; literally not a clue! I didn't have a burning passion to be a doctor or a pilot like some teenagers do when they leave education. I went to Uni to experience Uni life and to buy myself some time as I didn't know what jobs were really out there when I left college. I went to Oxford Brookes University and did my degree in Accounting and Finance, before returning back to Southampton. Looking back, it was actually a really useful start to my career but I don't think I realised it then.

So how did you end up at BDO and what makes you stay?

I was lucky enough that I had connections at BDO already so I decided to follow in their footsteps, or at least dip my toe in and see what BDO was like. I was very junior when I first joined, but like to think now I've progressed to Senior Manager I've managed to shake that tag. It's a common theme with a number of us, but the people are a big reason as to why I've stayed, I've developed so many friendships in my time at BDO, and met my fiancé here as well. I've also been able to shape my role in Southampton by getting involved in things that I enjoy, the people side, whether that be with High Performing Teams or the alumni programme.

Nice to hear your progression story! What does that look like in your day-to-day role?

I'd say my days vary somewhat. The constant is interaction and engagement with people, whether that's colleagues or audited entities. This can be through audit team meetings, audited entity meetings, managers meetings, one-on-one counselee meetings and casual catch ups. The regular interactions with people energises me throughout the day as well. Unsurprisingly there's some things to do around the core audit role; I'm normally reviewing files, attending meetings and sending out emails. In addition to this though I also get to spend time thinking about how we can improve things in Southampton. I've involved myself in other things that aren't solely audit focused so having the balance between audit and my people role has given me renewed purpose and satisfaction.

Let's break that down even further then - how do you explain your role to your grandma who wouldn't understand it at all?

Funnily enough my family have a bit of history with BDO as my Dad worked here as well. He wasn't the first family member to be involved though; my Grandma actually worked as a secretary many years ago. So, I'd say she should be more familiar with the job than most Grandma's!

Wow, a real family history there! So what is it about BDO which keeps you excited for the future?

We've recently won the audit of a well known high street retailer who have a significant International presence so there is likely going to be some travel to countries like Japan and Canada. My portfolio has predominantly been based around the Central South region, which as a Southampton boy I've enjoyed, given my affiliation with the area. However I'm very much looking forward to broadening my horizons beyond the UK.

And what about some of the misconceptions you'd heard before you joined?

To be honest I went in with a fairly open mind which is good. If there was one thing I noticed, it was that I probably didn't appreciate that I would meet so many like-minded people who I probably have more things in common with than existing friends. I also always thought you had to be pretty good at math if you went into this profession too; sadly I've become so reliant on using a calculator my mental arithmetic has probably suffered a touch!

A group of men kneeling to have their photo taken as a football team, in front of a goal

What’s the most difficult bit about working in your stream?

I think there's a few plates to spin in audit, especially as you become more senior. You'll want to keep doing a good job with Partners, and with your team. That's on top of keeping the audited entity happy and delivering a quality audit, on time and in a cost effective manner. There feels a lot to consider! When you first experience that pressure it can be hard to manage it all, but I do think being put into that position has developed my skills and made me better equipped to handle multiple jobs. I've also been incredibly supported at BDO and because of that I've never felt like I'm on my own.

So how do you keep your personal life in balance then?

I used to play football, but sadly age has caught up with me, so golf has become my number one sport. I've become incredibly fair weather with golf but working in an office certainly increases the desire to go outside. Typically I very much enjoy going on holiday, and if I'm not on holiday I like to plan holidays. The master plan is to retire somewhere in Italy!

How do you fulfil that alongside work?

I don't find it too difficult to juggle the two. Yes there are busy moments, there are deadlines, but it's never constant and there is plenty of opportunity to continue enjoying your hobbies alongside work. If I ever work late one night, I'll make sure I do something I want to do the following night.

As we bid farewell to this engaging conversation with James, it's evident that his journey at BDO Southampton is a testament to the firm's vibrant culture and commitment to professional development. From navigating complex audit tasks to fostering meaningful connections, James exemplifies the essence of BDO's values. With an eye on the future and a passion for personal growth, James continues to thrive, embodying the spirit of excellence and camaraderie that defines BDO.