Fresh from her promotion to partner at Albert Goodman, Sophie Parkhouse (pictured above wearing the ICAEW presidents badge) joins Practice Talk this week to discuss the benefits of flexible working, lunchtime workouts and coffee breaks.
While a decent proportion of partners still work their way up the career ladder at one firm, Parkhouse's professional success demonstrates the value of gaining a range of different experiences from across the accountancy world.
Shortly after gaining AAT and ATT qualifications at a small Taunton firm, Parkhouse moved to Albert Goodman. But after three years she decided audit wasn’t for her and went into teaching, coordinating ATT, ACA, ACCA and CIMA courses at a local training provider.
But after having her daughter, she got the accounting bug again. “I felt I was playing at being an accountant rather than being one,” she told AccountingWEB. So Parkhouse left her position at the Taunton college and jumped back into the trenches at Grant Thornton’s technical department.
“I was living in Taunton but going to London, staying for a week and coming back. I thought, why move to London when I can bring my daughter up in Somerset?" she said.
So in 2016 when the opportunity came up to return to her old stomping ground Albert Goodman, she jumped at the chance. “I was told at the time the role will be what you make it," said Parkhouse. "I grew it from being financial reporting to other areas like money laundering, practice assurance, and internal CPD.”
And just over three years back at Albert Goodman, Parkhouse has become its first non-portfolio holding partner.
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What does a typical day look like for you?
I am an internal support function for the firm, what I think my day is going to be and what it actually is are usually totally different things. People contact me with issues, queries, and problems and that will dictate how my days will end up going. I have such a broad area of things I cover that I'm not really doing the same thing over and over again.
What time do you arrive at the office?
I am very flexible actually. I don't feel like I have to sacrifice things I want to do as a mum in order to achieve what I want in my career. Some days I will come in at 7am and then leave at 3pm so I can do the school pick-up. Other days I will come in at 9.30am because I've done the school drop-off and then I'll stay late.
Do you have any set routines or working rituals you stick to throughout the day?
The only thing I ever set in my day is my coffee breaks. Other than that the rest of my day is pretty fluid.
Our core working day is 10am-3pm, so I will generally get anything where I need to speak to someone done within the core hours. I will do things like research later on in the day because I am less likely to get hold of someone.
Before I go home I action every email and try to make sure that everybody knows when I am going to deal with it.
Photo line-up: Sophie Parkhouse pictured with fellow new partner Chris Lewis (left) and Albert Goodman senior partner Paul Hake (middle).
Are you someone who eats lunch at their desk?
I always try to at least get out, even if it is to grab a cup of coffee and get some fresh air: I recognise I am more productive if I've done so. Occasionally, particularly in the summer months, I'll bring my gym kit, go to the park and do a quick 20-minute workout. People look at me and think 'what on earth is she doing?'
When you clock off you have that strict barrier so you're not checking emails?
I'm one of the few people who doesn't have my emails on my phone. If my daughter has gone to bed and my husband is out doing something, I occasionally sit at my desk at home, get my laptop out and do some work. What I don't do is work when I am out and about at the park with them or somewhere other than the home. If it is family time, I won't be doing work.
No life in practice is complete without the obligatory calculator question. So can you remember your first calculator?
My first calculator was when I started secondary school and I was given a scientific calculator as a Christmas present. I was very pleased with that. In terms of the work environment, I don't think I've been very fussy about my calculator. I had whatever was in the stationary cupboard or whatever was given to me. I've never developed a relationship with my calculator.
About Richard Hattersley
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