Case study: Julia Morris

Julia is an AQR Inspector at the Financial Reporting Council.

 “I’ve always enjoyed working. In fact I find not working far more challenging. I like that sense of belonging and the feeling of contributing. At the end of the day, that’s why I put myself through two degrees and an accountancy qualification. And now with kids, and especially two girls, I think it is really important to be a good role model, “says Julia Morris.

Julia has not followed a traditional ACA path, but her career journey, including a career break to raise a family, has led her to a role where she is now able to combine her full skill set in a way that gives her real job satisfaction and the flexibility she needs to be a present parent.  

Work life balance is possible

After completing a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics at the University of Bristol, Julia went on to complete her ACA with EY. Here, she worked her way up to the role of senior manager, before moving to New York, where she completed a masters in journalism and also started a family. She then worked intermittently in radio and television both in the US and the UK.

Julia was actually working as a reporter and newsreader, when a friend forwarded her the advert for her current role as an AQR inspector at the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).  On first read, she was a little hesitant, but  soon realised that this role was unique in enabling her to use both her past technical knowledge, whilst also employing the more recent skills she had honed as a journalist.

“Having been out of the financial workplace for a number of years, I had to brush up on my skills and, through a combination of self-study and ICAEW courses financed by the FRC, felt ready to return to this very technical role which requires liaison at a very senior level.”

“The FRC is a progressive employer which embraces flexibility, practices trust and offers a platform to make the most of your skills. Before I started this role, I always feared that a flexible working arrangement would somehow compromise my ability to perform. But that has certainly not been the case, I genuinely feel it works for me, my employer and my family. ”

“As people prepare to return to work after a career break, my advice would be not to spend too long contemplating about what to do, but to be bold and get the process going. And by that I mean anything from talking to past colleagues, friends, career coaches or recruiters. For me the hardest part was taking that first step. The rest was actually quite enjoyable.”

The value of volunteering

“I would definitely recommend being open to strategic volunteering opportunities, like working as a governor at a school or becoming a BASE mentor*. Similarly when looking for jobs, I think it is important to stay really open minded and ensure your search criteria are not too narrow. I would also encourage women to brush up on their LinkedIn profiles, to let their networks know they are looking for opportunities and to make use of the support systems available to them such as ICAEW’s comeback community and CABA services like career coaching and CV and LinkedIn profile assessments. I believe having independent input into your journey will help you get to where you want to be faster”.

* BASE is ICAEW’s National Business and Accounting competition for students in school or college aged 16-19. A unique and exciting experience, students are able to engage in a business challenge that enables them to develop key employability skills and understand what it’s like to be an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.