Living local, going global: Life in Audit at EY UK

eFC logo

Feasting on a ‘self-developmental buffet’, travelling to California, Portugal and the south coast of England, and feeling the power of EY’s career mapping. Rich Armstrong, an Audit Manager based in Southampton, lifts the lid on life at an EY UK office.


Never standing still

“One of the things that defines EY is the career development – it’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind, from the moment you join.

As soon as I joined in 2014 from a smaller, local firm I was paired with a ‘counsellor’ (a career coach) who helps me set my personal and professional development goals. We have bi-monthly meetings to discuss my goals and measure my progress towards them – the idea being that I’m never standing still and always looking to evolve, improve and progress.

EY operates in more than 150 countries and has almost 250,000 employees, which means there are endless career opportunities available. You want to go and live in Australia for two years? You could do that. You want to live in New York to see what it’s like to work in the United States? That’s possible.

Every individual at EY has a different set of goals, so having a system that puts you first gives it that personal touch that other organisations don’t have.”

Clear and supportive career progress

“In some organisations career progression can seem a bit spurious or opaque. EY’s system is the opposite because, although there are many paths you can take, the counsellor system clearly lays them out for you, so as soon as you set your goals you’re surrounded by support networks that help you achieve them.

I suppose I’m proof of this, having been promoted through three different roles already – and I’ve been at EY for less than four years.”

EY can be your passport to the world

“My portfolio of clients is really varied. I work in the Southampton office so a lot of my clients are based around the South Coast of England, which can be just a 10-minute commute away. But I also have some internationally-based ones too, including a food business in Portugal and a technology company in San Francisco, which means I spend two weeks in California every year. It’s that kind of variety – being able to travel internationally while also working locally – that keeps me motivated and engaged in the work I do.

EY’s broad international client base has exposed me to fast-paced industries like technology in the United States, and everything from private equity-backed companies to local owner-owned businesses in all sorts of other industries too. Seeing the sights in San Francisco after work during the week and at the weekend isn’t bad either!

It’s this side that really helps you feel the power of EY. The reason I love working in Audit in Southampton is because you get the global scale and opportunities that EY offers but not at the expense of that local, community feel. EY operates in so many places, it can be your passport to many parts of the world.”

A self-development buffet

“I have around seven client engagements, which means I work with between seven and ten team members more senior than myself – partners, directors, or senior managers. They all have a wide variety of styles, skills and strengths so, rather than being led by a single mentor, I can cherry-pick from this buffet of learning opportunities to develop myself and my own style.

I think this really helps me to maintain my own authenticity and that, to me, is what really sets EY apart – the level of exposure you get to these talented and bright senior people from the very beginning of your career is amazing.”

A people business – built on people

“It may be a cliché, but it really is all about the people at EY. It’s the reason I keep getting out of bed and going to work, and the culture that EY creates really allows people to be themselves. It’s supportive too – for example, going from a smaller regional firm to a multi-national company like EY wasn’t as daunting as I thought because of the help from everyone around me in making that transition.

The flexible working EY offers is a key differentiator, too. EY’s working procedures and technology mean I can work from anywhere so, having just bought my first flat, I can easily stay at home to let the decorators in, for example. The other bonus is that it has taught me to be self-aware and know what hours of the day I do my best work. EY empowers me with an unbelievably high level of autonomy so I can manage my workload around my lifestyle.

We’re a people business – we don’t manufacture or sell anything, we only sell ourselves and the services we provide. EY are acutely aware of this and they appreciate those soft skills because, by making it a great place to work, this filters down through everyone and therefore onto our clients. There’s no requirement to conform and people are encouraged to be themselves; this helps make EY the vibrant place it is.

Yes, it’s a tough job at times – and you will work hard – but I can honestly say I’ve never been bored and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else right now.”

If Rich’s story made you want to know more about building your career in Audit at EY UK, visit our website to find out more and apply for available positions with us now.