At A+F Recruitment we are constantly inspired by the success stories of all of the incredible Accountants we have met along the way. We really enjoy getting to know people and we thought you may like to too! We are delighted to present a recent interview with Chloe Watkins – an inspiration for all young Irish people who hope to combine both a professional career with Irish Representative Hockey. Chloe is training as a Chartered Accountant in Mazars in Dublin and, at the same time, managing a demanding training schedule in advance of the Olympics 2021.

Chloe is an Irish international hockey player and has been a member of the Irish Senior Women’s Team for nearly 11 years and has 200+ caps for Ireland. She was part of team that won the silver medal in the World Cup in 2018 and recently qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Chloe is also a trainee accountant with Mazars, pursuing her professional accountancy qualification.

#AFTalks

1. What motivated you to choose a career in Accounting?

I have always preferred numbers and subjects that required a logical way of thinking, I never enjoyed the grey areas. Both my parents originally worked in the bank and gave me insight into the financial world which helped too. I decided to study Commerce International in UCD, in final year you get to choose modules and focus your studies on certain areas of business. I chose the accounting modules as I had developed more of a preference towards them during my first 3 years of study. This also gave me some exemptions for the first set of professional accountancy exams once I decided to join a graduate programme with Mazars. The accounting profession appealed to me because it combines gaining valuable knowledge and understanding of key areas in a business environment which provides you with a strong foundation, while also pursuing a secure professional qualification.

2. Why and when did you first develop an interest in hockey?

For as long as I can remember, hockey has always been part of my life. My sister and I would have been pitch side in ski suits when we were 4 or 5 when my Dad was coaching. I started playing when I was 7 along with other sports, but when I began secondary school that’s when it took priority. I always loved playing hockey and my family were very involved in the sport too which also helped.

3. What advice would you give to elite sportsmen and women who are looking to combine an international sporting career with a profession such as Chartered Accounting?

I would advise other sportsmen and women not to be discouraged from a career in accounting. It takes understanding from your employer to help you balance your training commitments and studies, I have been very lucky in that regard with Mazars. At some stages in the year, if we have a major tournament etc. I need to plan when I can take exams and when might not suit. The ACCA route suited me better as it gives me the flexibility to sit exams at several stages during the year which allows me to progress my qualification while training and playing for Ireland. I think it is important to plan your year in advance and not feel like you have to choose between your sporting career and professional career.

4. What skills and experience have you gained in Hockey that have been applicable to your studies and experience in Accounting?

I think you learn a lot of soft skills from playing hockey without realising it. I have spent my whole life working as part of a team, communicating effectively with different people, committing to training and being on time, working as a unit to reach your goals and performing under pressure. All of these things are applicable in a work environment. In accounting you work within teams on various engagements all the time so it definitely transfers.

5. What skills and experience have gained in your studies that have been applicable to your experience on the pitch?

I think its always good to challenge yourself and find new ways to step outside your comfort zone. Taking the professional exams have definitely challenged me and required me to focus and try to be as productive as I can whenever I get the time to study. This has helped me to focus more at training which makes me get more out of it. My experience of sitting exams is very similar to playing in a big game. The more preparation/training/study I have done in the lead up, the more confident I am taking the exam or playing in the match which helps with nerves.

6. Bearing in mind that you are still in the mid stages of your training contract, why would you recommend Accounting as a career to graduates?

Yes I am very much still learning as a trainee! However I would recommend graduates to consider Accounting as a career because it gives you the opportunity to progress – each year you are given more responsibility which keeps you motivated. It also gives you exposure working with a wide range of clients which is a great way of finding out what might interest you. The fact you are part of an intake with other students is really helpful too as you always have support from people who are going through the same things.

7. Do you have any tips for trainee Accountants?

I’m still learning all the time – ask questions and don’t be too hard on yourself, they don’t expect you to know everything straight away.

8. What is your number one tip for success – professionally and personally?

I think you have to enjoy what you do whether that’s professionally or personally. It doesn’t mean you need to like all of it all the time but, in general, if you love what you do it makes the hard days a bit easier to get through.

9.What is the proudest moment of your sporting career to date?

I think one of my proudest moments was when we qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in front of a home crowd. My silver medal from the World Cup is also up there!

10. What and who motivates you to succeed?

My teammates and my family keep me motivated. I have always felt that our hockey team could achieve something special, when we had heartbreaking failures in the past what kept me going was knowing we had it in us to get there eventually. I want to be the best I can be, I definitely don’t feel like I’ve reached that yet.

11. Someone you look up to or aspire to – professionally and/or personally?

Sonia O’Sullivan has always been a huge inspiration to me. She was the first female irish athlete I can remember watching on the TV who was succeeding on the world stage and flying the flag.

12. What is your favorite sports quote?

Muhammad Ali has some classics, my favourite is when he said “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’ Shows you that even he hated training!

13. What is your favorite mantra?

Get on with it! I don’t like to dwell or waste energy on things I can’t control.

14. How does hockey make you a better student or worker?

I think it has helped me be more productive with my time. The idea of having a whole evening or day to study is like gold dust so it makes you use your time well.

15. What lessons have you learned during the covid crisis in both work, your studies and in your training?

I think the uncertainty of everything at the moment is the hardest part. I have learned that things can change on a weekly basis never mind a few months ahead so there is no point trying to predict what will happen in the future. The best thing I can do is to focus on whatever I have at the moment – study wise or training – and try to put my energy into those things.

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