Why I Work In… is a regular feature where we ask people about their jobs and the industry they work in. This time it’s Carolyn Atkinson, director at Sheards Accountants in Huddersfield.

Tell us a little bit about Sheards

We are a local firm providing accountancy and taxation services to businesses and individuals, largely in the Huddersfield area, but also further afield. The firm was established over 120 years ago and has developed into a digital-age firm providing cloud accounting with a team of 18. We provide a large range of services including annual accounts, management accounts, forecasts, payroll services, self-assessment tax returns including property landlords, and general business advice.

And what’s your role there – how would you describe your job to an alien?

I am a director and shareholder so as well as looking after and advising clients, I run the business alongside my business partner Kevin. To an alien I would say I run the show, but with lots of help!

How long have you worked in this sector?

38 years, since July 1985. I began my accounting career after completing A levels at Colne Valley High School followed by a Foundation Course in Accountancy at Huddersfield Polytechnic – now the University of Huddersfield.

What skills make someone a good accountant?

You need to be a people person and a good listener and adapt to how clients want you to work with them. Attention to detail is vital, as is the willingness to keep learning. Whilst the basics remain the same, the tax rates and rules and accounting standards change at least once a year. Clearly being great at numbers is essential, but also you need good skills in English language, as there is a lot of report, letter and email writing involved too.

What’s your advice for people looking to start their own accountancy firm?

Train at a well-respected professional firm and learn all you can from the owners and managers before trying to go it alone. The business is highly skilled and regulated so you need a good grounding. Personally, I would also have a business partner, as going solo puts all the responsibility for decision-making onto you, and there are a lot of decisions to make almost every day. Accountancy is not as black and white as you may imagine.

If you could describe your job in only three words, which would you choose?

Interesting. Challenging. Technical.

What do you love most about it?

Talking to my clients. Learning about their businesses and helping them achieve their financial goals personally and professionally.

What word would your colleagues use to describe you?

Dedicated – I asked my team! I work very hard and have not missed a day of work this year despite two cycling accidents, one of which put me on crutches for over two weeks.

Where do you hope your career may take you?

I am now working towards the end of my career and looking forward to winding down over the next few years to retirement. I am proud of what we have achieved at Sheards and want to leave a legacy for the future.

If someone is reading this and thinks, I’d love to work at Sheards, what should they do?

Apply! We have a friendly working environment and a lovely team of colleagues to work alongside. Sheards also have a fantastic range of interesting businesses and clients to work with. We offer first-class training and experience and a career path only limited by a person’s ambitions. We also are strongly involved in the local community and fundraising for local charities every year, so there is a lot of personal as well as career satisfaction.