#ScotsCareersWeek – Meet Caitlin Cooke, Senior Manager at EY

Caitlin is a Senior Manager in EY’s Financial Services Audit Practice in Edinburgh. She has worked in the industry for nearly 7 years in both London and Edinburgh, working on clients that cover Non-Life, Life, and Specialist Insurance Markets.

She is currently on secondment to SFE as Head of Skills & Talent, working with Sandy Macdonald and Sandy Begbie to advance the strategic objectives of this area of SFE’s Financial Services Strategy.

Here is what Caitlin has to share on her career path into the industry.

What was your favourite subject at school and why?
I had quite a few favourite subjects in school – I loved music and drama (some may say I’m a bit of a drama queen), but I also really enjoyed studying German as a language, which I had started right back in primary school. My favourite teacher however was definitely my history teacher – he was called Mr Moody, and with the exception of a magical glass eye (and the wizardry) he was exactly like the character in the Harry Potter series.

What career did you imagine yourself doing when you were a teenager?
After a brief obsession with becoming a world class ballerina…I had wanted to work in Film Production, specifically in Cinematography or Editing. I spent most of my teenage years documenting my life through video diaries, and every holiday my brother and I would write our own movies that we’d convince our younger cousins to star in.

How did you get into financial services?
After finishing university (I studied PPE – Philosophy, Politics and Economics - at the University of Cape Town) I tried for a few years to pursue a career in the Creative Arts. However, many of my internship experiences consisted of me making coffee and not really getting involved in the areas of the industry I was most interested in. I decided that if I was serious about making movies I would maybe have to approach it from a different angle, specifically Film Financing. I thought that studying a CA (chartered accountancy qualification) would help me gain the relevant business experience to be able to make those kinds of investment decisions later in my life.

How has your career developed since working in financial services?
Since working in financial services I’ve spent the majority of my career to-date in the insurance audit department of EY, both in London and in Edinburgh. This has given me highs and (at times) lows, mainly due to the busy hours I’ve worked during many year end audits. I feel this role has really shown me how resilient I can be and what I can achieve in even the most testing of times, and has also illustrated the importance of working for a team you care about on work that you feel is important.

Tell us about your role now/what it entails and what you enjoy about it?
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to be seconded to SFE as Head of Skills & Talent, a role that is completely different to my position as a Senior Manager in audit. I am working with a passionate team dedicated to the advancement of SFE's Skills & Talent agenda. I have been supporting both the Fast Track into Financial Services and the Unified Schools Programmes, as well as working with the organisation to address the need for more talent and greater diversity within the Financial Services sector.

What would you tell your school aged self now looking back?
Have patience. You do not need to know what you want to do for a career by the time you finish high school (or even after you’ve finished university!). The most valuable thing you can do is look out for and grab experiences that will help you gain a greater understanding of your interests, passions, and where you want your career path to take you.