The Big 4 Career Path: Mark (33), Financial Controller

What is your degree in?


Looking back, did you know what the day to day of a financial controller entailed at the time?

Yes, I think I did, you are someone who can interpret finance info and deliver that to non-finance people. My dad was an accountant also.

Why did you do the degree you did?

….because I lack imagination! The course I did would have had a good reputation, and there were good job prospects at the end of it.

Did you know you wanted to go down the financial controller career path then?

I had a fair idea, I would have seen the accountancy qualification as an introduction to the business world.

Did you seek advice from anyone on a financial controller career path?

Not really. In school, you had career guidance, but in university you wouldn’t have had any of that.

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What % of what you learned in university have you used working as a financial controller?


If you were 18 again, knowing all you know now, would you do anything differently degree wise?

I would have done something a bit broader, something where you had a bit of choice as to what to specialise in.

What jobs have you done since graduating? And what have they entailed?

2016 – Present                  Financial Controller, Construction Firm, Dubai

Supporting Senior Management in the Middle East in terms of their decision making

2011 – 2015                       Assistant Financial Controller, Luxury Goods Company, London

Putting together the annual accounts

2006 – 2010                       Audit Senior, Ireland

Finding issues in the companies accounts and issuing recommendations across a broad spectrum of clients across several industries.

What are the things you’ve liked and not liked about working as a financial controller? i.e. the last 10yrs working


  1. Helping people make decisions, and adding value
  2. Being in a collaborative team

Don’t like:

  1. The repetition of the month end reporting cycle
Has working as a financial controller been long hours over the years? 

My standard working day in my current role is 8am – 6pm.

In my previous roles, I would have worked a pretty standard 9am – 5pm, no weekends or late nights.

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If you were 22 again, knowing all you do know, what would you do differently career-wise?

I don’t really know, maybe something other than a financial controller but I’ve no idea what else I’d do. I think the one thing I’d do is to pick a broader degree, one that gives you more options at the end of it.

What tips would you give a student/young person now?

When you are growing up in a small place, you think there are about 4 job options: Doctor, Lawyer, Accountant, Engineer.

After a few years working, you realise there are millions of jobs and paths that you can explore. Make sure you don’t pigeon hole yourself early on.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a becoming a financial controller?

Complete a big 4 training contract, then go into industry afterward. Then try and get some more commercially focused business-facing roles. Also, try and find an industry you are interested in.

If you have any questions about a career as a financial controller, please do not hesitate to get in touch using the ‘contact’ section, thanks!

Killian is a qualified Chartered Accountant (ACA), for more info on how to get this qualification how to become a chartered accountant

There are several different career paths you can follow after getting the ACA qualification, one of being internal audit

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Paul Murphy

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