You have worked in finance for several years, and have just set up your own company Marriott and Kelly. Can you tell us a little bit about the company and your career history?
Marriott & Kelly has been set up on the back of 40 years combined experience. We offer everything from a fully outsourced finance function to a single bespoke spreadsheet.
I first dipped my toe in finance when I was studying Tourism Management in Hungary and two of my favourite subjects were Bookkeeping and Statistics. It became very clear, that this is what I wanted to do, and evident that no one else in the class felt that way. From then on I started out on a path that lead to filing self assessment tax returns for friends and family and now I'm dealing with statutory accounts, VAT reconciliation, cashflows, business plans and restoring and correcting "broken" Finance systems,implementing whole new packages for clients and advising on how to get the best from their finance departments.
How has the industry changed and developed for women over time?
In my personal experience it has been a male dominated industry, but with drive and enthusiasm this can and is changing slowly. Historically women have been stuck in the administration, credit control and purchase ledger roles, with only a few reaching senior or semi-senior roles. This, in part is down to lack of confidence and drive and trying to be taken seriously in a Board Room dominated by men.
As a woman who has worked in various positions within the industry, and someone who has made her way up to Director of her own accountancy firm, what are major challenges faced by senior women in a male dominated industry?
The major challenges come from the way we are perceived in this environment, we are seen as a lot softer and less commercially aware than our male counterparts. As women we have so much to offer, yet it is a daily struggle to be heard and taken seriously. We must have the courage of our convictions and make our voices heard. Business owners rely on us to make the right decisions and give sound commercial advice and we can only do this if we are confident in ourselves first.
How important is it to get more women into finance, and how can the industry be better at cultivating female talent?
There are plenty of women in finance, we just need to encourage them to have the drive and belief in themselves, not just in finance, but in all walks of life. Female role models must encourage and nurture the next generation of young women coming through the ranks. To see what can be achieved and break through the "glass ceiling" holding us back.
You are from Hungary. What are the differences between the finance industries in Hungary and the UK for women?
The main differences are the rules and regulations. They are a lot stricter, but also better defined. When it comes to finance, it is a lot more difficult for start up companies in Hungary as they need to be financially stable before they are allowed to commence trading, but they are also given a lot more guidance, which helps them manage and run a successful company.
If you could have anyone mentor you, or speak to anyone about their career who would it be?
I have had several mentors in my life, starting from the men in my nuclear family. In the industry the most significant mentor is my business partner, Rob Kelly, whom I have learned the most from, he has given me confidence in my abilities and in what I can achieve.
Outside of the industry I really would have loved the chance to talk to Nicola Tesla or Zbigniew Brzezinski.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned in your career?
The biggest lesson is, that there is always more to learn, Finance covers so many areas and crosses all industries so there are so many areas we can specialise in. My speciality is Accountancy and Bookkeeping, including Payroll.
The other lesson we all need to learn is, that networking is key.
What would you say to women who are looking at a career in accounting and finance? What advice would you give?
If you like working with numbers and spreadsheets, have a drive and would like a career, this is the right industry for you. Women naturally don't like change, but in this industry the benefits outweigh the risks. It is a really rewarding industry with a lot of opportunities to progress.