Toby Stanbrook, Partner (Audit and Advisory
When did you start your career at Mazars?
I was recruited in the first half of 2000 and started in September of that year. I graduated from Lancaster University in the summer and after a short break joined the Luton office.
How did you find out about Mazars and why did you choose them?
Mazars visited Lancaster University Management School as part of their graduate careers presentation and the lady who ran my university course suggested a few of us went along to their presentation. I wasn't really sure that I wanted to do accountancy at that stage (believe it or not) but the presentation was informal and the people very friendly and engaging so when they asked me to come for an initial interview the next day I thought why not! I had previously been looking around for a few months at other large, blue chip graduate schemes (including the Big 4) and did not really find anything that excited me despite being further advanced in their application process.
I decided that I wanted to get a further qualification and ACA seemed like a good step to open up options for a successful future in business. Once I had decided my career direction I then had to choose the right firm for me. Although I had offers to work with the Big 4 I felt that Mazars would be more varied and suited my personality (i.e. I felt that I would be more able to be myself). Everyone who I met at the first and second interviews were very friendly which really made me feel comfortable. I also felt it was a good opportunity for me to use my French language having worked for a year in Paris as part of my degree.
How long did it take you to find your place in the company?
I guess this depends from which perspective you look at this. In terms of feeling welcome and at home it was quite immediate. As a group of students we went to college together in the first week to start our studies and we got on really well. In about week 3 we attended a Skills for Business course where we met other peers from across the UK firm which was great. Although the studies were definitely a challenge there was certainly the sense that we would get through it and we did. In terms of finding my feet in the job it does take a few months as you need to take the time to allow what you learn at college sink in. This is where the other students and managers are really important and give you on the job support. They had been in my shoes and always took the time to help me out when I needed it.
How did your training at Mazars help to prepare you for your career journey through to becoming a Partner?
Your training really gives you your fundamentals. I would say that the more you put into it and get a really strong grounding, the more challenges you are able to take on both during your training and later on in your career. There are lots of skills that come from your official training but majority of the experiences (good and bad!) come on the job when you are working with clients. Once you have developed the more financially focused skills it is then the softer, people and client management skills that come to the fore. Whether you are talking to people at the top or the bottom of an organisation you have to know the appropriate approach and the language to use.
Tell me about the variety of work you’ve done, and the most important responsibility you have been entrusted with?
The work has been very varied from a group fully listed on the London Stock Exchange to a fast growing international owner managed business. I have also been lucky enough to work on due diligence assignments in support of acquisitions and a corporate finance completion. The greatest responsibility I had when I was training was working on an international forensic case worth around €500m. I had to work with lawyers and our specialist forensic team to prepare the client's case and report to the directors on progress (in French!). Given I was only in my second year at Mazars it was quite a stretch but it was fascinating and I learned a huge amount. My current role is varied in a different way, alongside working with clients, part of my role is to help Mazars develop its international Group. There is always something going on which means there is always a new challenge just around the corner.
What’s the benefit of staying with Mazars in the long term?
I think there are several. Firstly you get to see ideas that you have and projects that you have worked on develop out into larger initiatives within the firm. Mazars is still a place where you can directly contribute and feel part of a growing partnership. Secondly, it is great to see people who you have worked with or who have worked for you take on new or senior positions.
What advice would you give to anyone starting at Mazars to ensure they have a successful long term career?
Learn something from everything that you do and everyone you meet. Whether it is a good or bad experience there is something to take from it. If you can do things with a smile on your face as well that definitely helps.
What do you most enjoy about your role as a Partner at Mazars?
The people. Meeting clients and people from Mazars across the world is fascinating and helping them achieve their goals is a pleasure and a privilege