Abigail Manley studied Business Science at the University of Cape Town and is now an Assistant Manager as part of our Financial Accounting Advisory Services team in our Assurance practice. Read her career story below.
I grew up in South Africa, in a province in the southeast called KwaZulu-Natal. When I was 18 years old, I moved to Cape Town. I studied at the University of Cape Town and received a Bachelor of Business Science, specialising in Actuarial Science. I always wanted a career that combined my love for numbers and mathematics with the fast-paced world of business, so this was the perfect choice for me.
Three years after graduating, my husband and I decided to move to Ireland when he was offered a contract to play for a cricket club in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. We always wanted to experience life overseas, and this was the perfect opportunity. My husband was getting to do what he loves, and I was able to make what I think was a clever career move, gaining different market perspectives and experience.
We had visited Ireland twice in the past and loved it, so we knew what to expect. The landscape was, and is, so different from South Africa. It’s also completely unique compared to anywhere else we have visited. The standout for me though since moving here permanently has been the people. I constantly hear “I love your accent, I could listen to you all day”. I always thought of Ireland as a welcoming place, but I certainly didn’t expect to be so positively received, purely for being South African. That made a huge difference and helped me feel at home a lot quicker.
When I was applying for actuarial jobs in Ireland, I struggled to find positions in purely actuarial teams that also offered exposure to banking work. Banking is a huge interest of mine and I have so much experience in the area as it was one of the larger workstreams in my previous team. I had mainly worked on bank audits, and really enjoyed the coding and practical element of building models. So, it was important to me to continue this in my new role. A former colleague of mine suggested a role in EY Financial Services’ Financial Accounting Advisory team, as my experience was really in line with what they were trying to achieve. This was a good opportunity to continue building my banking experience, while still getting the opportunity to expand my knowledge of other industries.
It’s difficult to describe the work we do in our team, as it is very varied. Things are really fast-paced and you are always thinking on your feet. I’m constantly exposed to new things and challenged to move out of my comfort zone. My two most recent projects have been completely different from each other and are completely different from some of the work performed by other team members. It’s an exciting environment to be part of!
My skillset and unique perspectives have been the most beneficial thing for me, opposed to my specific experience. It’s not something I had considered before, and it has been a huge learning. Your skills and your mindset are your most valuable assets – all you need to do is get comfortable with the uncomfortable and seize opportunities.
If I had to pick one word to describe the culture in EY Financial Services, and in my team, it would be “caring”. Every person I have encountered has been extremely conscious of my wellbeing above all else. This is really refreshing and often uncommon in a large global organisation. My team are very supportive and did everything possible to make my transition into the role as easy as possible, even in an almost completely virtual environment. Also, the international community is huge in EY Financial Services. I’ve met so many other South Africans who were all extremely welcoming and helpful. It’s been an amazing community to be part of.
I’ve only been here for a few months, and already EY has given me countless opportunities: working on different projects, experiencing completely new industries, working within a team while also using my own autonomy, and learning from each and every one of my colleagues. The environment strongly encourages learning and challenges you to grow. I truly believe that EY is a place to extend yourself and learn new things every day.
We are currently recruiting for a number of positions within our Financial Accounting Advisory Services team (FAAS), specifically in CFO Advisory – explore our current vacancies here. To read more of our People Stories, click here.