Shooting the Breeze with... Caroline Gordon

Innovation and networking are two keys to a successful business

Caroline Gordon, Chartered Certified Accountant and Registered Auditor.

Caroline Gordon, Chartered Certified Accountant and Registered Auditor.

Ireland is an entrepreneurial nation. We have earned a strong reputation for our work ethic and ability to turn ideas into money-making industries. During these tough economic times, people are being encouraged to act on their entrepreneurial instincts and not give up. Caroline Gordon acted on her entrepreneurial instincts 15 years ago this May bank holiday weekend, having opened her accountancy practice in Swinford on Tuesday, May 7, 1996.

This was a day she would never forget as she remembers still the excitement and sense of achievement of that first day.

Caroline talks of the anticipation of awaiting the first client to walk through the door and the sense of pride knowing a client was putting their trust in her and her ability to look after their financial affairs.

For some, accountancy and auditing is not the most exciting occupation in the world, but without it commerce would cease and the world’s economies would stop turning.

What has helped Caroline to be so successful in her accountancy business has been her involvement in networking organisations and relevant professional bodies. Here she has built up relationships and a reputation as someone who is trustworthy and reliable, two key attributes for anyone who is given the responsibility of keeping your books in order. But it wasn’t plain sailing for Caroline who, as a businesswoman herself along with her clients, has had to struggle through a devastating recession. She represents the thousands of Irish businesses who are keeping their doors open and looking forward to some light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Fifteen years after starting out on her own, older and much much wiser, Caroline is still as passionate about her practice, being self-employed and being an accountant.

She tells us about her background: “Growing up in Ballycastle, Ceide Fields territory, in school I loved and was good at the mathematical and accountancy subjects. However I had no plans then to set out to become an accountant or business woman. I completed two years in college after my Leaving Cert, and then went on to work with An Post in Dublin for a year or so before moving back to Mayo to work in the accounts department of Mayo General Hospital. I worked there for just over a year and was let go as it was a temporary position. The sweeping health cutbacks of 1987, when the axe swung on all temporary positions across the entire Health Board nationally, put me on the road to where I am now.

“When I found myself without work, I made the decision to return to college, and as I was good at and loved figures, I chose the profession of accountancy.

“After a year in full time education, I secured a trainee accountant placement, I qualified in 1992 and opened my accountancy practice a few years later in May 1996.”

Vibrant and expanding economy

In the first decade of the business Caroline assisted clients to take full advantage of the potential offered by the vibrant and expanding economy. Ireland was on course for the biggest economic boom in history. Then along came the financial crisis and in this next more difficult decade and challenging times, she was there to support, advise and guide clients to sustain their businesses, if at all possible.

“There are three areas of focus in business and I endeavour to deliver on this combination. The ability to combine setting up and maintaining a successful business with significant contribution to voluntary organisations, together with recognising the importance of family life and work/life balance.

“In business I believe the critical factors are to recognise the challenges of location, economy and staff retention while remaining innovative.

“My business model is of one to one delivery; clients have access to me personally, for advice, discussion, and meetings and in delivering on this model, I have the support of a dedicated and appropriately qualified team.

“One of the interesting aspects of the practice is diverse client portfolio, it spans various business sectors, including retail, building and construction, developers, artists, professional services, restaurant, pubs, auctioneers, rental income, foreign properties, farmers, with all the business structures - sole traders, partnerships, limited companies and charities and organisations. In this regard, no day, no set of financial statements, no Revenue audit is the same and this ensures ‘Variety is the Spice’ in the practice daily.

“The client geographical spread is predominantly Mayo, with clients in Dublin, Sligo, Galway and Kildare also.

“With my involvement in voluntary organisations, (Network Ireland, Network Mayo, Castlebar Chamber, Swinford Chamber, Western Care and St Anthony’s Parents Association ), I recognise the importance of organisations and networking to business, as they are essential for survival and business success, at local, national and European level.”

Look beyond Ireland

Caroline acts at executive officer level within these business organisations and makes a significant contribution to their progress and development, being a key contributor to executive decisions affecting the strategy of the organisations.

“A recent highlight for me was being one of a delegation of four from the Network Ireland National Executive [she is national secretary of the organisation] to participate in a three-day trip to the European Commission Offices and the European Parliament, Brussels to meet Catherine Day, secretary general, European Union; Maire Geoghegan Quinn, European Commissioner; Joanna Drake, director, SMEs and Entrepreneurship European Commission; and Marian Harkin, MEP. This involvement at European level enabled me to bring information to clients from Europe and I now encourage clients to look beyond their existing Irish customer/business bases to Europe and internationally to source/seek new business.”

According to Caroline the downturn in the economy over the last few years reminds us all of the importance of work life balance, the key areas being work, home and social life and the need to maintain that balance. When operated smartly, being self employed complements family life, so that you can have the best of both worlds.

Caroline is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland.

Her practice is an ACCA Approved Employer - trainee development and practising certificate development and a CPA Approved Training Partner.

Caroline Gordon, FCCA, CPA., Chartered Certified Accountant and Registered Auditor, 1, Chapel Row, Swinford and Breaffy, Castlebar.

Telephone 094 925 2600 / 086 239 2365, email [email protected]


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