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Young accountant of the year: Jess McDarren & Sarah Restall

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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