Inspirational Woman: Tanya Craft | Chartered Accountant, HW Fisher

Tanya CraftIn this piece, Tanya talks to us about the hurdles she has had to overcome in her career, her views on mentoring and shares her call to action for the industry to further female advancement.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background, and your current role

I am a chartered accountant with a background in corporate finance and audit. I became a director at HW Fisher in November 2021 and recently made a move back into audit full time. My client base is corporate and tends to be large groups or acquisitive clients.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t, I did however want to be an accountant from a young age, well either an accountant or a builder, but the reality of carrying bricks and the weight of them meant I chose a calculator.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Yes, once I had AAT qualified, I decided the next step for me was to qualify as a chartered accountant. However, at that time, the main route to gaining a training contract was via a graduate program which meant entry required you to have a 2:1 degree. I had not been to university and the application process for most firms meant they would not consider you without a degree. I couldn’t even get anyone to read my C.V. In the end I resorted to walking into accounting practices and asking if I could work for free until one eventually said yes. It was scary having to give up my paid day job to work for nothing. Luckily my paid employment allowed me to flex to evening work and weekends and I still lived at home with my dad, so I had his support.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Asides from my career and making director by thirty, my biggest achievement is my children. They are 1 and 3. The 3-year-old gave me a hard time when he was small which only makes me appreciate how amazing and precious they are.

I am also proud of my home. My husband and I recently finished building our house. We (I say we – he) built it through the pandemic, whilst living in our shed for 13 months. Living and working in the small space with the children definitely tested our resolve, but it makes us all the more grateful for the space we now enjoy.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I think it’s probably that I didn’t give up. When faced with a barrier I found a solution. I also have my mother to thank for instilling in me the need to work hard.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee? Who do you feel has most helped you on your journey?

Mentoring is a fantastic tool, I wouldn’t say I had a formal mentor, but I have benefited from a number of talented individuals training me over the years. I have had the benefit of working closely with a pool of senior people each with different talents, from the technically competent to those with soft skills. I consider these people to have helped me immensely on my career journey.

I am also about to take my first steps into the other side having just been connected with two mentees. I’m excited to be able to assist others with their goals.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

It would be for senior men in the workplace to realise their power to help reach gender equality. Their active involvement in mentoring is so helpful and can assist in the acceleration. I have seen in practice how important it is to have male allies in the workplace.

What benefits have you seen both individually and within your organisation from being involved with The WealthiHer Network?

Our firm had already been actively driving diversity and there have been some big movements for women in the senior positions over the last few years. One of my mentors was the first to break the glass ceiling a long while back, with many more women following in the more recent years.

Being part of the Wealthier Network just opened up the opportunity to network with other women and connect.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Be more confident in your ability and take more time to have fun.

What would be your call to action for the industry in terms of furthering female advancement?

Yes, some of it is industry, so opening up flexibility in the working week and normalising it for dads to take shared parenting responsibility would be helpful. But part of it also comes back to us as women; we must be more confident in what we can achieve and allow time for us to learn and grow ourselves. We must take opportunities as they arise, grab them, and change our mindsets from “not quite sure” to “I can do that job.”

To quote Richard Branson “if somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure if you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”

What is the one piece of advice you would give to a woman to help her along on that journey, if they haven’t already started?

If you have a goal, don’t stop until you reach it. Stay in a role whilst you are learning and gaining from it. Once you have learned all you have learned, move up.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I am happy with both my career and personal life at the moment. I am happy and that is all I want for the minute. So, I plan to keep focusing on my clients and perhaps turn my attention to my mentee’s careers.

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