Your Career Journey as a CA with Rutherford Cross and ICAS

Earlier this month, Rutherford Cross ran its second ‘Your Career Journey as a CA’ virtual event in conjunction with ICAS.

The key theme of the evening’s session was to discuss the importance of having a mentor or mentors throughout your career to help guide you through multiple junctions and provide a sounding board when making a career change either internally or externally.

Rutherford Cross hosted the evening with three guest speakers: Lisa Thomson of Weir Group, Jason Cohen of PwC, and Darren McCallum of William Grant & Sons. ICAS’ Bernard Dunn also discussed the importance of having a mentor and how this has helped him through his successful career to date.

All three of our guest speakers excelled early in their careers following their ICAS qualification and felt mentors had helped them achieve this.  Here we share some of their career tips and insights following the event.

Lisa Thomson – Weir Group

Lisa actively sought out a mentor when she first moved to Weir Group, working closely with her predecessor in the role she came in to carry out in the Group Accounting team. Lisa felt that the support from her mentor allowed her to get up to speed quickly in a new role in what was a very busy department.

Lisa’s key career tips are:

  • Look to widen your experience whenever possible
  • Say “yes” to opportunities early on in your career- Lisa’s move to the US with Weir on a secondment allowed her to better her system and stakeholder management skills
  • As well as advising on your current roles, mentors can also introduce you to new opportunities –


Jason Cohen – PwC

Jason’s key career mantra throughout his career to date has been “find your niche and be well known for it”. Jason began his career at EY and still has mentors he is in touch with there who he can reach out to for advice when required.

Jason splits his mentors and career development into four categories:

  • Internal
  • External
  • Wider Network
  • Profile in the Market

Jason recently joined the board of children’s charity, Children 1st.  He was able to differentiate himself from other more established non-execs by showing passion, drive, and enthusiasm, all traits which individuals can demonstrate early on in their careers to help balance the need for additional experience.


Darren McCallum – William Grant & Sons

Before joining William Grant & Sons, Darren spent time at EY, joining the EY volunteering panel early on in his time with the business, in part to build key relationships moving forward. His career at EY afforded him the opportunity to work across a number of different industry clients, ultimately allowing him to focus on the drinks sector which he was really passionate about.

When Darren joined William Grants, a previous EY audit client, he was thrown into the deep end in terms of dealing with senior stakeholders due to the flat structure of the organisation. Darren’s focus on building these relationships this has allowed him to progress into his more senior role in Bellshill HQ.

Darren has actively looked to broaden his knowledge and skill set by initially carrying out an Operational role in Girven before moving into a Commercial role at HQ.

Darren found his experience with mentoring at William Grant & Son to be key in progressing his career to where it is today.  His mentor in his original role helped Darren focus 2-3 years ahead in his career, and build the skills required in order to progress to more senior roles.

Darren’s key career tips are:

  • Push yourself to speak up and share your ideas even when relatively junior as it can help get you noticed and progress in your career
  • If you don’t have access to a mentoring programme, eek a mentor out yourself as working closely with someone you can confide in, and trust can provide opportunities you may never have come across
  • Working closely with a mentor in a senior position in your organisation can provide access to new projects at an early stage
  • Think ahead – demonstrate you can take on the additional workload which is associated with the role above you


It was fantastic to bring together our panel of speakers to share their career journeys and experience of working with mentors with our audience.  If you are interested in finding out more about working with a mentor, ICAS provides a mentorship programme in each of its local areas.  For more information visit the ICAS website.

For a confidential discussion on your career in finance or to find out more about Rutherford Cross’ events, contact [email protected] or [email protected].