PracticeAccounting FirmsAwards 2003: Accountant of the Year

Awards 2003: Accountant of the Year

Judges had no difficulty selecting this year's Accountant of the Year winner, Karen Ballantyne, the 29-year-old ACCA accountant from Wilkins Kennedy.

While up against a number of high-calibre rivals – including, Vanessa Wilson from the Freestyle New Media Group, Sandra De Lord from Trustient and Nick Tiley from Ultra Electronics, – Ballantyne’s entry in the words of one judge was just ‘streets ahead’.

Judges were looking for someone who faced-up to interesting challenges to prove their ability, as well as find interesting solutions to problems encountered.

To this end, Ballantyne demonstrated fearless determination and complete confidence in her own abilities, when, while still a trainee in Wilkins Kennedy, she jumped at a secondment opportunity.

The firm sent her off to the Falklands Islands on a six-month contract to a large company where she was immediately faced with the challenge of ‘uncharted territory’.

But so successful was her time there that when the contract expired – and based on the potential she had shown while working in the Falklands – Ballantyne proposed that the firm set up a permanent office on the island, in consultation with a London-based partner.

Putting her money where her mouth is, Ballantyne again volunteered to leave her family and friends behind and set up the new business. Such actions demonstrated to the judges that she was a candidate who had good judgement, excellent technical skills and obvious leadership qualities.

This was further in evidence when Ballantyne set about sourcing premises, negotiating contracts, setting up the office, recruiting staff and also began introducing herself to the Falklands community, winning clients in the process.

The branch is now running successfully with Ballantyne providing audit, book-keeping, taxation and general business advice to her growing portfolio of clients.

In addition, she is responsible for making all the decisions affecting the running of the branch, which has meant she has had to develop competencies in HR, marketing and management, in addition to developing her accounting skills. She got to grips with complicated IT issues and has brought the office into the 21st century.

As a result, the Falklands office of Wilkins Kennedy is now a profitable and growing business.

Ballantyne, as if her Falklands work was not proof enough, has also served on many professional and business committees, demonstrating her sound professional reputation and credibility.

These include the company law review committee, training committee, the cost of living committee and the internet initiative for the Falkland Islands’ Chamber of Commerce.

She has been asked to participate in the government’s current tax reviews to provide expert opinion on various tax changes being proposed as part of this review, not bad for someone not yet past 30.

Judges described Ballantyne’s Falklands adventure as an ‘outstanding challenge’ and ‘quite remarkable’ and were impressed by her initiative, drive and vision.

They described the entry itself as a ‘strong submission’ ensuring that she joins an illustrious list of past Awards winners.

OTHER SHORTLISTED CANDIDATES:

  • Sandra De Lord of Trustient
  • Nick Tiley of Ultra Electronics
  • Vanessa Wilson of Freestyle New Media Group.

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