Five minutes with Kayleigh Lewis, Senior Audit Manager
What made you join MHA MacIntyre Hudson?
I qualified at a top 5 firm in Milton Keynes before moving away from the area and subsequently, 3 years later, I was back again! In my time away I had got married and gained a new family member for whom I was now responsible. The easiest route would have been to continue with what I knew and reapply for my old role, but the change in my circumstances changed my focus somewhat. I was only 27 and not ready to accept that my career was going to be on hold while I waited for my child to grow, but I also had to recognise that I did (together with my partner) share additional responsibilities that would not have fitted the work life balance I experienced during my training contract and of those of my peers who had remained in the office and were now progressing. It was really important to me that wherever I went offered a good work-life balance, but absolutely zero compromise on audit quality and the growth and development of my experience. Technical challenges have always been something I have enjoyed and that motivated me. My research showed that MHA MacIntyre Hudson shared this ethos. Upon meeting my interviewers, and being absolutely challenged and engaged by the interview, I knew they shared this same goal. I was thrilled to be offered the role.
So, you had some requirements when you chose your next employer. Did we tick the boxes once you started?
For me, I was looking for a work-life balance and that is a very abstract ideology; there is always a concern that your own ideas do not match those of the firm. In my case, knowing I was being interviewed by a father of 3 and a father of 2, I knew they understood the constraints on my time. They were open and honest when I asked what a “peak week” and a “usual week” might look like and that has been absolutely the case. Of course, there is always going to be the odd last moment issue, or a week where the hours worked were more than you had hoped, but this is the exception rather than the rule. It’s really very difficult to put into words, but the unique team I work with and the great relationship I have with the Partners has meant the reality of working for the firm exceeded any expectation I may have had. We are one big team; we have a shared goal of excellence and providing outstanding service. This definitely ticks the boxes for me!
How has the firm supported your career development?
I joined the firm as an Audit Senior in 2014 and worked predominantly for a Director in Northampton who was nearing retirement. This shaped my future and I soon progressed to Supervisor and then to Assistant Manager. By 2019 I was Manager and then in 2020, Senior Manager, as my original mentor retired. In that time I went from working on his jobs, to running his jobs, to them now being my jobs! I also managed to squeeze in a 13-month maternity leave in this time and a couple of months working part time hours around my little ones’ needs!
How has the firm supported you, as an employee and a Mother, during the pandemic?
Agile working and working from home has always been an option for me, but it’s not one I have ever taken up, other than the odd boiler breakdown or childcare emergency. Being in the office with my team is one of the absolute best things about my role. Then in walks the COVID-19 pandemic and all of this has to change overnight; the office is no longer deemed a safe place or appropriate place to be. Add into that the issue that schools and day care we're closed and, as any parent can probably understand, you have the potential for a working/home-schooling nightmare. As soon as this issue arose, I spoke with the Director and Partners who I work closely with. I explained the constraints on my time, and conflicting priorities, and they left me to come up with a plan to make it work that fitted with the needs of my family. Agile working became very agile! Often, I would work early morning or late evenings around my husband. My Audit Partners and my team worked so hard to facilitate this. The Partners accepted that if we needed a 1pm call, then my son was also going to attend with me on video! We pulled together and not a single client deadline was compromised.
What is the culture like at MHA MacIntyre Hudson, in your opinion?
The culture here is very progressive, forward looking and values people as its key asset. The culture in my local office is open, honest and there has never been a problem I couldn’t share with my Partner; never an instance when I doubt that they “have my back”. We all work a lot with people, we are people-people and that absolutely shows. I have an amazing amount of support in my role. This might include my mentor checking in on me outside of work, the secretarial team checking all is working as it needs to, my Audit Partner making sure my workload is manageable (and offering support if I need it), or my team keeping morale high.