Olive Prior

Olive Prior

Olive Prior

Career history
PwC gave me a fantastic start to my professional career. I joined the Audit Department of the Consumer & Industrial Product Division which provided a great broad base for understanding how a business is run from top to bottom and gaining knowledge of what drives all aspects of a company’s performance. Even though I moved into the banking sector after leaving PwC, I still find the training I gained from my time in PwC informs and anchors my understanding of the fundamentals of more complex products and businesses even to this day. Having a background with a firm like PwC has also been a great door opener in terms of building credibility with colleagues and fellow chartered accountants.

Overall the economic situation has been tumultuous over the past few years. While maybe not a highlight of my career, it has definitely been of huge value to be able to broaden my experience and gain exposure to a number of different people and situations that might not have come my way otherwise (although it certainly doesn’t always feel it at the time!).

PwC Alumni
Apart from the annual free drinks (!), being part of the Alumni network has been a great way of keeping in touch with former friends and colleagues. It is all too easy to lose contact as the years pass but having a more formal network that brings people together on a regular basis really helps in keeping up my contacts.

It has proved useful on a number of occasions to know where people are now working and where they have worked in the past, particularly when recruiting. Being able to get a second opinion from someone who worked with a candidate previously can prove invaluable.

Business outlook & challenges
Like almost every company, it has been a difficult operating environment over the past couple of years. I have certainly found that working within the Finance Department gives plenty of exposure to being at the forefront of being a part of changes that inevitably happen when economic circumstances change.

It is a time of huge change for the banking sector in Ireland which will likely take a number of years to fully work through and settle to what the ‘new norm’ of domestic banking looks like.

I think one of the main challenges is anticipating what is next and how that might affect us both personally and professionally. Having spent most of my working life to date going through a boom economy I certainly feel that not having any previous practical experience of working through a recession to draw on is a disadvantage in trying to anticipate how the future will play out.

Lessons learned
The only advice I would have is to get as much experience as you can and don’t be afraid to try new things or new areas. An accountancy qualification is an introduction and basic starting point only – as you progress in your career it’s your leadership skills, your personal skills and your communication and networks which will prove invaluable to your career progression.

One of the most important things I am still learning is the importance of delegating. Learning to let go of the ‘doing’ is crucial to making sure that you have the time to both manage and lead your team effectively.

Don’t burn your bridges – Ireland and a lot of industries are very small places and you would be surprised where people turn up or where you might end up in the future.

Sharon O'Connor
Tel: +353 1 792 8762

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