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Anxiety, accountancy and breaking down barriers

Trainee accountant and qualified doctor Marie Kubo was among the ICAEW delegates at One Young World 2019. Here she talks to London Accountant about tackling anxiety, her switch from medicine to accountancy and opening up the accountancy profession.


January 2020

One Young World 2019 brought together the leaders of tomorrow in London’s biggest international gathering since the 2012 Olympics. With speakers such as Meghan Markle, Justin Trudeau and Sir Richard Branson, the summit aimed to inspire upcoming talented individuals from around the world to accelerate positive change.

Marie Kubo was one of the delegates. Having qualified as a doctor, she is now training to become an accountant.

LA: I don’t know many accountants that have previously qualified as doctors… How have you ended up with two professions to your name? 

MK: I always loved science and maths at school but I couldn’t really see myself working in an office. My interest was in the human body, so I chose medicine.

After a year as a Health Care Assistant, I was pretty sure that I would be able to cope with whatever was thrown at me when I became a doctor. After six years of hard work, I had my degree and started my first job as a junior doctor in Psychiatric Intensive Care.

It was early into my second year as a junior doctor that I realised that I had developed severe anxiety. I don’t think anything can prepare you for having that kind of responsibilty over people’s lives.

Traits that had initially been positive, such as being conscientious and empathetic, became really negative. I was finding it almost impossible to do the job and it was taking its toll on me.

Eventually, I came to accept that I wasn’t suited to it and I decided that the end of my second year in the NHS would mark the end of my medical career.

Even though I’d realised the world of medicine wasn’t for me, I still wanted to be in a profession where I was constantly building new skills and discussing real life problems. Accountancy was an obvious option.

LA: Have you found many similarities between accountancy and medicine then? 

MK: Yes, loads actually. I find auditing has many similarities with diagnosing an illness. In both, you have to be very sceptical and analytical while having difficult conversations. 

LA: What made you enter ICAEW’s Chartered Star competition? 

MK: While doing the ACA, I’ve regained a lot of confidence. This summer I made a promise to myself that I would push myself to do something new. It was just after this that I heard about ICAEW’s Chartered Star competition.

I thought: “Why not?” This could give me an avenue through which I could make a real change to the world. 

LA: Was One Young World as great as you imagined it would be? 

MK: Better. I kept looking around thinking how on earth have I landed here. I know it sounds cheesy, but now it is as if I’m seeing the world through entirely different eyes.

It’s amazing how much your perspective can broaden in such a short period of time. Hearing about all of the issues that people have been fighting against made me feel that we urgently need to do something about so many things.

LA: What’s next?

MK: Having suffered with poor mental health myself in the last few years, I really want to tackle that stigma. 

I am looking for ways to get involved in promoting healthy and open conversations around the subject. 

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