From accountant to CEO: Elona Mortimer-Zhika

From accountant to CEO: Elona Mortimer-Zhika

After moving from Albania to the UK at 16, Elona Mortimer-Zhika traversed the corporate ladder to become the CEO of software provider IRIS Software Group

From accountant to CEO: Elona Mortimer-Zhika

In 2016, she was IRIS’ newest chief financial officer; by 2018, she had become the company’s chief operating officer, later receiving her promotion to CEO in 2019.

Although she quickly moved up the ranks at IRIS, Elona Mortimer-Zhika has navigated the challenges of immigration, accountancy and motherhood.

“I don’t think there is a secret sauce to success—I think you generally have to work hard,” she says.

Upon leaving her home country of Albania at just 16, Mortimer-Zhika went to South Wales to attend UWC Atlantic College on an International Baccalaureate scholarship programme alongside 200 plus students from 135 different countries.

“I was very lucky to come to the UK when I was quite young, and to be given the opportunity many other children didn’t have in Albania,” she says.

“I came from a culture where I hadn’t even met anyone who wasn’t Albanian or spoken much English. Moving into this new environment was mind-blowing,” Mortimer-Zhika says. “My world became so much bigger overnight and I realised how many more opportunities there were to go after, because I was a very small fish in a big ocean.”

There, Mortimer-Zhika found her own passion for economics—particularly, the free trade economy, which stood in stark contrast to her upbringing in the Eastern Bloc. After obtaining a scholarship to Reading University, she continued on her path to accountancy, with her passion for economics spurring her into her first job with Arthur Andersen.

Following on from that role, she spent several years at Deloitte, Acision and a stint at Mavenir before settling in at IRIS. After sprinting up the corporate ladder, Mortimer-Zhika’s view from the top has encouraged her to create a legacy—both for herself and the company.

By nature, IRIS is a tech-forward endeavour.

“I think technology will enable accountants and most businesses in the world to take away the mundane operational tasks so they can focus on doing the job they love and spend time with people whether it’s customers or colleagues,” she explains. “People need interaction with other people. We are in the industry of humans and that human touch is really important. How you make somebody feel is really important.

“For me, accountants are the best advisors you can have at the table. Not only do they have business acumen because of their profession, but they can take those numbers and they can translate them into stories for the others in the boardroom.

“Accountants are in the prime seat to be able to make the numbers talk and tell the business what it is they have to do in order to hit the targets. I think that’s a really great place to be, the important spare chair in every meeting.

“I think you need a business advisor that’s going to add value to you,” Mortimer-Zhika says. “So, do I think that technology is going to help? Absolutely. Do I think technology is going to replace the human touch? No. I think it’s going to give us more time to add value and provide great business advice to clients to help them grow.”

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