The ones to watch: young guns of 2007

Chris Pedley , partner, Grant Thornton
At 32, Pedley is the youngest partner in mid-tier firm Grant Thornton. After
joining Bentley Jennison at 18, he subsequently qualified with Robson Rhodes
before joining Ernst & Young. Pedley cites an excellent mentor, a
realisation that practice was for him, and his willingness to take risks as
critical to his meteoric rise. He spent a confidence-building year in Munich on
secondment with E&Y and says he is ambitious to help grow the Midlands Grant
Thornton tax practice.

Mark Allan, CEO, UNITE
Mark Allan has had an impressive rise at UNITE, after joining the student
accommodation giant in 1999 as corporate FD. In seven years, he has attained
what many see as the ultimate end-game for a finance boss – to make the step up
to the chief executive’s spot. The 34-year-old was appointed as CEO of the FTSE
250 business in September 2006, but his relative youth also puts him in a great
position: he is able to put his finger on the social pulse of a youthful client
base. Allan’s primary focus at the moment is to help achieve UNITE’s aim – to be
the first choice provider of student hospitality.

Tom Pearce, FD, Nintendo
Tom Pearce will be celebrating his 33rd birthday next month. And as UK finance
director of gaming giant Nintendo, his career seems to be well ahead of
schedule. Pearce handles a budget worth hundreds of millions at the computer
giant, helping to prepare the crucial statistics for major launches.

Oleg Novachuk, FD, Kazakhmys
Not a lot is known about Novachuk beyond what appears on his CV: he joined the
group in 2001 and swiftly rose to the role of finance director in 2005.
Novachuk graduated with honours from Kazakh State University with a masters’
degree in applied mathematics, and is the former chairman of the board of
directors of JSC Kazprombank. Following Kazakhmys’ debut on the London Stock
Exchange, Novachuck landed on The Sunday Times Rich List at number 173, worth a
cool £355m. A very savvy young gun indeed.

Charis Walsh, FD, Black Sun
Young and ambitious, patient and level-headed are all adjectives that sum up why
28-year-old Charis Walsh is a young FD destined for the financial big time.
Walsh is currently finance director of Black Sun plc, a consultancy advising
some of the UK’s leading FTSE 100 companies on corporate reporting. According to
Walsh, she specifically chose Black Sun because she knew it would offer a route
to a seat on the board far more quickly than if she had joined a massive
corporation. ‘There was a huge incentive: if I did what was expected of me, I
would get that position on the board. The plan obviously worked – only I didn’t
expect to become finance director that quickly,’ Walsh says.

Tracy Wood, partner, Ernst & Young
Tracey Wood turned down a place at Cambridge University to study accounting. Her
wisdom proved beneficial. She admits that she has an older temperament which
belies her tender years. At just 28,Wood became Ernst & Young’s youngest
partner ever. Wood joined E&Y after a spell at Lathams, and her relentless
work ethic soon resulted in her promotion. She continues to shine at the firm.

Jennifer Low, assistant director, Deloitte
Jennifer Low is one of Deloitte’s bright young stars – not surprising for
someone who expressed an interest in the corporate world at age 12. Currently an
assistant director of the Big Four firm’s corporate finance insurance arm, she
finds solutions for the diverse cross-section of cases and companies in her

Paulo Pieri, FD,
At only 34, Paulo Pieri leads the finance team at The ICAS
member bagged the role of group finance manager at the Virgin Entertainment
Group in 1998. Three years later, he was promoted to FD at Virgin Retail.
Three-year stints seem to be Pieri’s signature time spent on any one position:
he moved into the FD role at in 2004.Watch this space.

Gilly Lord, partner, PwC
At 32, Gilly Lord is the youngest female partner at PwC. She leads audit and
assurance assignments for the firm’s FTSE 100 manufacturing clients, having
begun her career in the financial services practice. Lord is keen to debunk the
popular myths about audit and continues to find her role in the assurance
practice varied and challenging.

Related reading

aidan-brennan kpmg
The Practitioner