International Women’s Day - Member stories

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the cohort of women who make up 76% of our Membership community. In the ongoing effort to #BreakTheBias, it has never been so important to celebrate women’s achievement, especially in the workplace.

As an Institute, we ensure our Members are equipped with the skills and training to develop their own careers – whether that’s going for a promotion, putting themselves forward for a pay-rise, or occupying a more senior role. With this in mind, we’re delighted to be able to highlight the stories of three of our recent 2021 Prize-Winners in the ATI end-of-year exams.

Meet Emma Harpur MIATI

Having placed joint 1st in the Year 2 ATI professional exams, Emma is now living in Australia, working in the Tax Advisory Department of the accounting practice, Pitcher Partners.

Why did you choose to study to become an Accounting Technician?

I was accepted to Queens University Belfast to study Actuarial Sciences and Risk Management; however, I came across a job opportunity as part of the Higher-Level Apprenticeship in Accounting with Accounting Technicians Ireland and thought it looked interesting. The fact I could study for my Diploma qualification whilst working was a huge draw. I secured a role as a Trainee Accountant Technician with Claremount Chartered Accountants in Omagh, and I studied nearby at South West College.

After Year 1, I took what was intended to be a short study break and travelled to Australia. One year later, I was still there and absolutely loving it. I wanted to continue my studies, so I enrolled to the ATI Online programme for Year 2. Due to the time difference, I couldn’t participate in the live online classes, but I was able to watch back the recordings which was a huge help and sat my exams online. I love the programme and surprised myself at how much I enjoyed studying again.

How has being newly qualified stood to you?

I was thrilled to receive such high results in my end-of-years exams, achieving 1st place in Year 2. It made me confident in my decision to pursue further studies in accounting with ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). In fact, I’ve completed my first two ACCA exams – Financial Reporting and Taxation - placing 1st in Australia in both. Through ACCA, I was able to start a Bachelor’s in Accounting and Finance with Oxford Brookes University in the UK, giving me all I needed to secure my first accounting job in Australia.

Last year, I was hired by Pitcher Partners – a member of the Baker Tilly network of practices – working in their Tax Advisory Department where I specialise in Transfer Pricing. I really enjoy my work and strive to climb the ladder in the firm, especially once I graduate with my Accounting and Finance Degree.

What’s the dream job?

My dream job is to become a Financial Controller for a global company, and then eventually progress to become CFO. I aspire to be the best version of myself, and education is key to this. My Membership of Accounting Technicians Ireland is so important to me, in terms of supporting my professional development aspirations, as well as connecting me to a wider network of accounting professionals.

I’m a firm believer in looking things up – if there’s a word or reference you don’t understand, just look it up!


Meet Sinéad Bergin, Affiliate Member

An Accounts Assistant for the restaurant franchise, Five Guys Enterprises, Sinéad knew that the ATI Online Diploma programme would support her in achieving her goal to become an ACCA qualified accountant. 

What have you been up to since completing Year 2?

Well only a few weeks after completing my Year 2 exams, I received a job offer to work in the Accounts Department for Five Guys Ireland. It’s been a great experience and has given me the opportunity to further expand on the skills and knowledge gained during my studies with ATI. In fact, my employer is now sponsoring my studies with ACCA to become a fully qualified accountant which is exciting, even if it means more studying!

What were the challenges of studying during Covid-19?

As I was currently working in accounts, I knew I wanted to study through the ATI Online programme, and both the lecturers and supports in place were fantastic. I think the toughest part was trying to give your full attention to academics with everything going on globally. Group chats with fellow students were a lifeline and provided such an important sense of community. This combined with the encouragement of my family, my boyfriend and friends pushed me to focus which made it even more rewarding to be recognised for this hard work at the Conferring Ceremony.

Meet Sarah O’Sullivan, Year 2 Student

Year 1 Prize-winner, Sarah, balances two jobs, horses, and family, whilst studying for her professional Diploma through ATI Online.

What made you want to become an Accounting Technician?

I first started my career as a secondary school teacher, mainly teaching English. After my first teaching contract ended, I picked up a temporary role which involved accounts and never looked back!

I went on to work for a variety of SMEs and not-for-profits, teaching myself the different areas of accounting and finance. Then when lockdown happened, it gave me the time and breathing space to decide to go back to studying and here I am. Good to know the brain is still working and we can keep learning at any age!

Where are you working now?

I’m currently working for the not-for-profit, LINC, which advocates for Lesbian and Bisexual women along with providing a resource centre in Cork City. I also work for a consulting engineering firm, Walsh Design Group, also based in Cork. 

I can’t stress how important the skills I’ve gained studying so far have been to both roles as I’m the sole employee looking after the financial accounting, taxation, and payroll.

How do you find balancing studying and working?

Most of my spare time goes to studying at the moment and I’m currently preparing for my Year 2 exams. As I study with ATI Online, it does make it easier to keep up with tutorials. Between my two jobs, my family, and horses, finding time isn’t always easy. Whilst I haven’t yet met any of my fellow students in person, we have active group forums, and everyone is very support of each other which is just such a nice environment.

Once the Year 2 exams are over, I plan to take some time to re-evaluate my career and decide on what direction I’d like to take next.

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