Young accountant of the year: Jess McDarren & Sarah Restall

by Accountancy Age

18 Nov 2009

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On rare occasions it happens that two people competing for the same prize cannot be separated. So it is in this year’s Young Accountant of the Year award which is shared by Jess McDarren of Tamar.com and Sarah Restall of Deloitte.

McDarren, pictured left, qualified with CIMA this year and came to the judges’ attention for her total commitment and an ability to take on big projects despite her relative inexperience. She qualified while working full-time and bringing up two young children but she also took command of her brief at Tamar.

First, McDarren selected and implemented a new management information system and, in the words of her managers “revolutionised the understanding of client profitability and staff utilisation”. McDarren also brought a fresh focus to the company’s registered charity, organising a rock concert to raise money.

But McDarren’s biggest test came when she was tasked with setting up a wholly owned business in Shanghai, taking on the heavy burden of liaising with local lawyers, accountants and advisers and delivered the project ahead of schedule.

Sarah Restall, pictured right, qualified ACA this year too. She was picked by the judges for not only being a high-flying accountant but for “being an outstanding character”.

After sixth form she worked for the charity Mercy Ships for three years,
finally rising to become a member of its leadership team and running a department of 12 staff by the age of 20. In her exams she scored a remarkable 100% for the accounting paper.

At Deloitte she provided tutoring in accounting, tax and business finance to colleagues who had failed their papers.

The firm has recognised her work by awarding no less that four internal awards for Outstanding Contribution. Her excellent client management skills has meant she has been chosen to manage six audit clients in the pension and charity sectors and she has also worked as an exam moderator for the ICAEW.

One Deloitte partner summed it up: “One of her first audit clients assumed she was an audit manager as opposed to a first-year trainee. Sarah stands out as
an outstanding performer and a superb role model.”

TOO CLOSE TO CALL

The judges could not choose between Sarah Restall and Jess McDarren. Of Sarah they said: “She stands out for being an outstanding character and for seeing another dimension to being in business. She has displayed great motivation and a real appetite to succeed. ” On Jess they said: “Jess became a crucial and irreplaceable member of her team and made the role her own while showing great tenacity and determination to achieve many things at once.”

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