Unlocking Global Opportunities in Chartered Accountancy: Insights with Peter Gillen

Unlocking Global Opportunities in Chartered Accountancy: Insights with Peter Gillen

Welcome to another episode of Young Difference Makers Discuss. This time, we’re delighted to introduce Peter Gillen, an Irish Chartered Accountant whose story takes us on his journey from a high school math enthusiast to prestigious roles at PwC in Dublin and Boston, and later to transformative work in sustainability consulting at Grant Thornton and AIB.

In this enlightening episode of our podcast, we delve into the world of Chartered Accountancy with Chartered Accountants Ireland member, Peter Gillen. From his early fascination with mathematics to prestigious roles at PwC in Dublin and Boston, and later transformative work in sustainability consulting at Grant Thornton and AIB, Peter’s career trajectory is nothing short of inspiring. This episode is packed with insights on how the ACA qualification serves as a global passport, the unparalleled benefits of global networking, and the importance of aligning one’s career with personal values, inspired by the Japanese concept of Ikigai.

Peter’s journey began in secondary school (high school), where his love for mathematics naturally guided him towards business and economics in college. It was here that he discovered Chartered Accountancy, a field that perfectly combined his analytical skills with his passion for business. He emphasizes the strength of the ACA qualification and the stellar reputation of Chartered Accountants Ireland, which reassured him as he embarked on this career path. Working at PwC, Peter gained invaluable experience in risk assurance, working with banks and insurance companies in both Dublin and Boston. This international experience was made possible by the ACA qualification, which Peter describes as a “global passport” that opens doors to opportunities around the world.

Transitioning from traditional accountancy roles, Peter made a bold move into sustainability consulting at Grant Thornton and later AIB. This career shift was driven by his desire for a purposeful career, aligning his professional work with his personal values. Here, the concept of Ikigai played a crucial role. Ikigai, a Japanese term meaning “reason for being,” is represented by the intersection of what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. For Peter, this intersection pointed towards sustainability, a field where he could leverage his skills and knowledge to make a positive impact on the world.

The episode also highlights the incredible diversity within the Chartered Accountants Ireland network. Peter shares how working in different global locations, such as Dublin and Boston, enriched his technical knowledge and practices. He emphasizes the importance of asking “why” to understand and resolve complex issues, a skill that is enhanced by interacting with a diverse group of professionals. This global network not only provides a wealth of expertise and support but also highlights the vast opportunities that becoming a Chartered Accountant can open.

Peter dispels outdated stereotypes about chartered accountants, emphasizing their critical roles as trusted advisors in modern organizations. Far from being mere number-crunchers, chartered accountants interpret and respond to complex global challenges, such as sustainability issues. This requires a deep understanding of numbers and the ability to see beyond them to the underlying issues. For example, understanding why costs are rising might involve delving into the impacts of climate change on material yields. This broader perspective is what makes chartered accountants invaluable to organizations.

In addition to his professional achievements, Peter is also proud of his work with Chartered Accountants Ireland, where he serves on the Young Professionals Committee. This committee supports newly qualified chartered accountants by facilitating networking opportunities and providing education on current trends and issues, such as cybersecurity and sustainability reporting. This support structure is crucial for helping young professionals take the next step in their careers.

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