35 under 35: Where are they now?

35 under 35: Where are they now?

Ten years ago, Accountancy Age’s first 35 under 35 awards celebrated the rising stars within the industry, so we tracked some of the inaugural winners down to find out what they’ve been up to.

35 under 35: Where are they now?

Over the past decade the UK’s youngest and brightest accounting talents have been showcased in Accountancy Age’s 35 under 35.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the awards, we caught up with a handful of the winners that made our list back in 2012 to find out how the industry and their professional careers have evolved since then.

Graham Seddon 35 under 35

At the age of 34, Graham Seddon had already been a partner at Menzies for six years. However, after progressing through the firm he wanted to be more entrepreneurial.

“I felt like I was drifting away from where the firm was heading, I was technology driven and saw the changes that automation was coming into the profession.”

Four years ago, he resigned from Menzies along with his friend Amy Askew and embarked on the adventure of setting up their own firm from scratch called Altitude.

Altitude started with just two people, now it has 15 members of staff, 360 clients and an income of about £1.5m a year.

Technology has been one of the biggest changes in his professional career. Even before the pandemic Seddon’s firm offered its staff complete flexibility of where they worked and unlimited holidays.

“With open banking and cloud accounting there is no real a reason why you cannot be up to date. Now you can have everything while sat at your desk or while sat on a beach in Barbados.”

Rachel Eden 35 under 35

When Rachel Eden made our 35 under 35 list at the age of 30, she was a BPP tutor and a council cabinet member in Reading. Ms Eden said she felt “honoured” and “surprised” that she was “someone to watch”.

Since then, she has set out to change the world using her accountancy skills. After founding her own accountancy practice Holy Brooke Associates, she ran for parliament twice and later became the Mayor of Reading.

Her accountancy practice seeks to help charities and small businesses take control of their finances.

“It is brilliant to be able to use your accountancy skills to make the world a better place.”

Over the past ten years, Eden has seen an increased focus on ethics in the accounting industry.

“I think that accountants really should be in the forefront of helping to make sure that people are following the right business ethics.”

Eden said she wishes she could tell her younger self that it is okay to fail.

“It’s okay to be wrong and It’s okay to not be popular, if what you do is with integrity and honesty,” she says.  “I would encourage people to yet to be nominated to be take on board that someone has noticed you.

“One of the biggest dangers we have is people who are good falling prey to imposter syndrome.”

Ian Graham 35 under 35

He started as a trainee working at the firm’s media office in September 2002, and over the past ten years has had an increasingly influential role within the team.

Over his professional career he has seen the industry face many challenges, with the sector currently under significant strain due to talent shortages. .

“Across the whole industry recruitment, retention, and the total number of available people in the market is a real problem for everybody. We have had versions of this in the past 20 years, but particularly now it feels a bit different.

“Brexit and our ability to use talent from outside the UK has had a big impact,” he adds.

Gary Bell 35 under 35

After narrowly missing out on making it onto Accountancy Age’s 50+50 rankings, Bell is thinking of applying again in hope of the firm being “silent assassins” and winning a spot on the list.

Over the last decade, FLB has “self-propelled”, it has developed its entertainment team and it is now working with some of the major studios, as well as working in the renewable energy sector.

Bell has been heavily investing in technology as he saw it was the forefront of change within the industry. When the pandemic hit, the company was able to let its staff work from home and working remotely has allowed Bell to hire talent from across the UK.

Since getting his own confidence boost from making it onto Accountancy Age’s 35 under 35, he likes to keep a watchful eye on the winners each year.

“I think the industry is a very competitive landscape. I check the rankings every year because I want to see who is excelling.

“It is a real standout moment for individuals to get recognised outside of their organisation.”

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