Svetlana is a Business Transformation Consultant based in London. Originally from Ukraine, Svetlana took time to talk to us about finding success in IQ-EQ after relocating in a new country and shares advice for those who want to succeed in the financial services industry.
Tell us about your career so far.
I have two university degrees – a degree in Engineering and another degree in Accounting and Audit. In Ukraine I rapidly climbed the career ladder, after working for small companies, I moved on to big national holdings and ended up working for big multinational companies where I held very top accounting positions. Also, for seven years I was working as a tutor of Financial Accounting and Reporting for CAP, CIPA and ACCA DipIFR accounting qualifications.
In the UK, I had to start from scratch as Ukrainian diplomas and qualifications are not recognised here. I was lucky to find a job quickly. I joined IQ-EQ (Augentius) as Assistant Accountant and started doing my ACCA qualification. It took me two years in total to complete it. All papers were passed at first attempt. For P6 Advanced Taxation I achieved the #1 rank in Ukraine and ranked #20 worldwide. Once qualified, I quickly progressed from Assistant Accountant to Accountant, Senior Accountant and Business Transformation Consultant shortly afterwards.
Tell us about your current role.
In my current role of Business Transformation Consultant, I still use a lot of my accounting knowledge, but it is more project based. The Transformation Team supports and leads various regional projects, but what I like most about this job is room for continuous improvements of our processes.
For example, working on project Eagle (historical review of billing) we originally came up with a suggestion to bill fixed fees and ad-hoc/variable fees separately. Later the idea evolved, and it was decided to make drastic changes to our invoicing by billing fixed fees quarterly in advance, ad-hoc and variable fees - quarterly in arrears. In the March 2022 billing cycle, the fixed fees part of the billing in NetSuite was automated. As a result, to add to other benefits, lock-up days were reduced from 58 days (January 2021) to 22.8 days (April 2022). “Last billing was very easy”, - commented one of my colleagues from Client Services. Things like this inspire and motivate me towards future achievements for the benefit of the group and my colleagues.
How do you build your own understanding of colleagues from different backgrounds?
When I meet somebody from a completely different background, I try to learn more about their culture, country of origin and its history. I ask a lot of questions about their traditions, values, families. This broadens my horizons. But what I have concluded so far is we all are very similar. It does not matter what we look like and where we were born, good people are still good people. We all value kindness, honesty, peace. We love and want to be loved and happy.
What advice do you have for anyone hoping to be promoted in IQ-EQ?
Do more than is required of your current role. I joined Augentius as Assistant Accountant but had not had any prior knowledge and experience in Private Equity. Having quickly learned the basics I immediately asked to be assigned to the most complex structure within our client group. Next, I started reviewing work of my colleagues even though it was not expected for my role, and I was not paid for this work. It kept me busy, interested and motivated.
Don’t be afraid to suggest changes and improvements. Once promoted to Accountant, I immediately incorporated a lot of improvements, which made our work more efficient, the team and the client much happier. “These are the best Financials your company has ever prepared for us! How did you manage to do all this in such a tight timeframe?” – was one comment we received from a client.
Be passionate and motivated! I like being busy. I like creating new things. I like achieving goals – small and big. I like being passionate and interested in what I do. It all motivates me.
Be positive and sound positive. Promotion often means working with people. People like working with nice people, so be nice.
Finally, be consistent in being your best.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I am a big fan of art and painting. As a Tate member I regularly visit galleries and exhibitions. It inspires me. Also, I like classical music. I like dreaming while listening to the beautiful music at candlelight concerts.
I grew up in Odessa – a very beautiful city on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine. I cannot live without the sea. I love to walk along the coast of the English Channel and dream, greedily breathing the salty sea air and listening to the calls of seagulls. It makes me so happy!
My husband Neale is a massive Arsenal supporter. Sometimes I attend matches with him, where putting on the red and white scarf instead of watching football I dream with open eyes. Once I even showed the wrong emotions and rejoiced in a goal scored by the opposing team, since I did not follow the game at all!
Last year I wrote and published a book about miracles.
What advice do you have for anyone leaving formal education?
Be bold. Believe in yourself. Look for opportunities and use them. Do your best to find your passion in a job.
Why did you choose IQ-EQ?
They chose me and I am very grateful for that! I did not have many choices – as a foreigner with poor English and unrecognised diplomas and qualifications. I remember my first day in the office. Different nationalities. People from different backgrounds. Different accents. It was so unusual and surprising for me, but at the same time, I said to myself: “I am safe here. They respect people and give them opportunity to grow. I will be happy here”. And six years later, I still am!