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Bossing it: Daire Keating

Author: Student Insights

Published: 20 May 2020

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Daire Keating, managing director, cards, Austria & Ireland at DCC Retail & Oil, shares his five pieces of wisdom for chartered accountants

#1: It’s OK to start a little late

I came to the ACA a little later than most. I was three years out of Trinity College Dublin when I began training with PKF in London. Before starting the ACA, I travelled extensively and worked in the sports spread betting industry in London. That life experience continues to benefit me to this day. After qualifying, I was very keen to catch up for any perceived lost time. Within seven years I was appointed the FD of a sub-division in a FTSE 100 public limited company with a turnover in excess of £8bn and ultimately achieved my ambition of landing a senior commercial role within a decade of qualifying

#2: Preparation is everything

There is no substitute for being well prepared for meetings and presentations as you never know when an opportunity to make an impression will come your way. Don’t expect to be able to fake it: a genuine interest in your area can drive a passion and that is when I believe I am at my best. 

Ensure you know the audience you are preparing for and tailor your message to them. Be clear on what you want to put across and how you intend to communicate it; clarity is key at all levels, whether that be in discussing the outcome of an audit report to the finance manager of a small charity or the negotiation of a multi-year, multi-billion euro deal with senior executives. 


#3: People matter as much as numbers

In a world where we are increasingly put under time pressure and performance metrics dictate a lot of decision-making, I really believe that empathy towards people goes a long way. Whether it’s external audit, internal audit or making structural changes to large businesses, we are dealing with the livelihoods of individuals and there is always an advantage to considering another point of view. This doesn’t mean you shy away from making tough calls, but it should reassure you that you have found the best solution and you can be comfortable you have considered more than just the numbers.

#4: Look after yourself

With 24/7 access to email now taken for granted, the lines between work and home have become blurry and it is crucial to find times where you can truly sign off mentally. 

Everyone has different triggers when life is getting on top of them and it is really important to recognise what these are and know when to step back and reassess your wellbeing. I rely heavily on my close family and friends, and have gone back to a more intense exercise regime, which I have found a great way to de-stress!


#5: Have a road map

I don’t believe in having regrets and have attempted to think through each of my career decisions based on my personal circumstances and trusting the counsel of those around me. I have always kept an eye on my three-to-five-year career goal, which prevents any urge to change for the sake of change. 

All my roles since qualifying have required me to travel, which is no accident. Life is about the journey, and it’s a great to have a career that will take you places both literally and figuratively. 

This article is an adapted version of The Boss: Daire Keating, originally published in Vital, Dec 2019.