11 Mar 2022

International Women's Day - My story: Lynette Whitcombe

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Tell us about your career to date and how you got to your current role in Monahans
Maths was the only subject I really enjoyed at school, so trying to choose A level subjects was a nightmare! After many discussions I chose a BTEC National Diploma in Business Studies, much to the horror of my teachers. I really enjoyed this course and felt that I had learned so much about all aspects of business.

During the course, we had to go on work placement. At this stage, my aspirations were to become a Lawyer, but Accountancy was always in the back of my mind, as I still enjoyed numbers and logic. I did my work placement at a local solicitors’ firm. I was talking to one of the partners, who was interested in my next career move. I had plans to travel, and he explained that Law changes depending on location, but numbers stay the same. Mind made up, Accountancy it was.

No University for me, I decided to learn on the job. My first role was as an AAT trainee, with Ledbury Martin, which became Monahans Ledbury Martin, and is now Monahans. I progressed quickly and was soon heading up Audits. I thought I really enjoyed Audits, however on reflection, it was the client contact that I relished.

I worked my way up, gradually having more and more client contact. I became a Manager and then a Client Portfolio Manager in 2009, when one of the Partners left. Several years later, I am now a Director in the Glastonbury office. This shows that progression really can be made within the firm.

Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
The person who has had the most impact on my career, was David Stephens. David Stephens was the Partner at the Glastonbury office when I joined and interviewed me. I knew straight away it was the right firm for me to join.

Over the years David Stephens pushed me so hard. There were a lot of tears, but I learned so much from him. His expectation of me and my work was higher than the other trainees, which caused some resentment. I didn’t realise at the time, but it was his way of getting the best of out of me, and the lessons learnt from him, laid the solid foundations for my career.

All the staff in the office were women. Our managing Partner at the time, in our Trowbridge office, employed all men, so David Stephens employed all women. When the Managing Partner retired, the first woman Partner was elected. This was an iconic moment for the firm.

David is no longer with us, but there are so many situations, when I think about what he would have done and what advice he would have given me.

What do you wish you’d known about yourself when you were starting your career?
I wish that I had known that it is ok to show vulnerability. It is not a sign of weakness. We do not fail at tasks, we learn from them, and if we never fail, we never grow.

I also wish I had known how to control my passion for the job. I have never been afraid to voice my opinion, but at times I may not have had the correct delivery. This was purely due to emotion and frustration, but it didn’t always come across that way. This was a tough lesson to learn, as I couldn’t see what I had done wrong, and how it may have been received. It has gotten me into a little trouble over the years! I have worked hard with this as an individual, but the passion still gets the better of me on the odd occasion.

What advice would you give to someone who is in the early stages of their career?
Try to talk to as many people as you can, colleagues, clients, Partners, Training providers and try to absorb their experiences. Try to nail the basics and don’t compare yourself to your peers. It is important that you remember who you are and the qualities that you have. We all learn in different ways and at different rates. Don’t try to copy or do things the same way as someone else. You can listen to their advice, but make sure it is right for you. We are all different, and there is no right or wrong way to do things. Be yourself. Be confident that you are part of team or work family and that your part in that team is vital. Be confident to ask for help, make suggestions and come up with ideas. Most of all, be happy.

Lynette Whitcombe