Mixing it up - meet a selection of our team

French Duncan



Sunday 8th March 2020 is International Women's Day, so we thought we would celebrate by interviewing five of our female colleagues from very different parts of the business. We celebrate all of our staff every day here at French Duncan but couldn't resist this opportunity to get some information out of a few of them!

We will be publishing one interview each day this week in the run up to the day itself, starting with Eileen Blackburn, our Head of Restructuring & Debt Advisory.

 

 

 

Eileen Blackburn is our Head of Restructuring & Debt Advisory and has worked for French Duncan for over 16 years.

Click here to see Eileen's profile.

Who has influenced you most in the workplace during your career?

One of the partners in a firm where I formerly worked. His standards were extremely exacting and I learned a lot from him technically. As a result of working in a male dominated environment, I also decided I would adopt a different management style in dealing with my own team.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

It’s all about the people. I love getting the opportunity to meet new people and in many cases with the directors I meet, being able to help resolve the issues they are having in business. This frequently leads to the demise of a business, but this is often a positive step for the business owners involved, as they feel a great sense of relief when someone takes the burden away from them. I am lucky enough to work with a fantastic team, and we support each other when it gets tough.

What do you think is the most important quality in a leader?

I think resilience is very important – to keep a clear head when all around are losing theirs is vital. You also need self-belief and an empathetic approach.

Who has inspired you most in your personal life?

My maternal Grandmother. She was part of an immigrant family who settled in West Lothian in the early part of the last century. She possessed personal integrity which never faltered and taught me about working hard and taking responsibility from a young age.

Any advice for your younger self?

Trust your instincts and always go with your gut feeling.

What was your dream job when you were at school?

I wanted to be an air hostess!

What do you do to relax after a busy day at work?

When I get home, I am firstly overwhelmed by the welcome I receive from my West Highland Terrier Mollie. My husband Tom has usually prepared dinner and I like to sit down with him while it cooks and to have a glass of wine and chat about the day. 

 

 

 

Linda Kelly is Director & Head of Payroll Services and has worked for French Duncan for over 18 years.

Click here to see Linda's profile.

Who has influenced you most in the workplace during your career?

A partner once told me it was all about the service but the biggest influence you could make was what he called “the likeability” factor.  If you built a relationship and the client liked you then you were more likely to gain their trust and have a long term partnership – still think that is a valuable lesson……and everybody likes to be liked!!

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

My team, the “buzz” from growing the department and the variety – no two days are the same.  I remember when I was approached regarding the role of payroll manager, I seriously asked the question “do you think there will be enough to keep me busy?”  I shouldn’t have worried!!

What do you think is the most important quality in a leader?

Listening, encouraging, fairness and not asking anybody to do something that I wouldn’t do myself!

Who has inspired you most in your personal life?

My dad always instilled in me that nobody was any better than me or worse off than me and that if you treated people with respect, it would be returned.  I think that value is so important. Listening to the client, no matter how big or small, and providing them the same level of service has helped us develop the payroll department.  It’s all about the client relationship, and that likeability factor is so important.

Any advice for your younger self?

Totally believe in yourself, work hard and show respect to everyone – regardless of position.

What was your dream job when you were at school?

Policewoman or history teacher.

What do you do to relax after a busy day at work?

Feet up and a glass of wine!

 

 

Ann Gracie is Senior Partner Assistant and has worked for French Duncan for over 28 years.

Who has influenced you most in the workplace during your career?

I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by, and influenced by, strong women throughout my career, particularly going back to when women didn’t generally have such high profile roles. It has been inspirational seeing this change over the years.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

The variety of work – no two days are ever the same.

What do you think is the most important quality in a leader?

Empathy, and the ability to work alongside their team.

Who has inspired you most in your personal life?

My mum – she was a strong character and had a Good Life Lesson Quote for every situation! This is a habit I have inherited and have passed on to my own children – I guess mother really does know best!

Any advice for your younger self?

Have more confidence in your ability and don’t be intimidated by your peers – I used to assume that just because someone was older and had more experience they would be better suited to a role and therefore more likely to be promoted, not always the case!

What was your dream job when you were at school?

I wanted to be a nurse, however when I was leaving school I was put forward for one of six secretarial trainee roles so here I am! At least I have my first aid certificate…

What do you do to relax after a busy day at work?

A long soak in the bath, followed by a few pages of a good thriller or real life story.

 

 

Jen Kinnear is an Assistant Tax Manager and has worked for French Duncan for over 5 years.

Click here to see Jen's profile.

Who has influenced you most in the workplace during your career?

The current team I work with – we are a close knit team and it’s great knowing that support is on hand if you need it.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

The variety of work and queries I deal with, and the variety of clients – I enjoy getting to know them all and building relationships.

What do you think is the most important quality in a leader?

The ability to treat everyone equally, regardless of their position, rather than there being an obvious hierarchy. 

Who has inspired you most in your personal life?

My parents – they have always encouraged me and haven’t allowed me to give up when I might have felt like it!

Any advice for your younger self?

Don’t get so stressed about exams – everything will work out. But I appreciate that’s easier said than done, even now!

What was your dream job when you were at school?

I wanted to be a music teacher, mainly because I played several instruments but also for the long holidays! Plan B was to become an accountant so here I am…

What do you do to relax after a busy day at work?

I have a good Netflix/box sets binge, the most recent of which has been The Stranger, occasionally accompanied by a glass of wine.

 

 

Natasha Gibson is an Accounts Senior in our Hotel Accounting team and has worked for French Duncan for nearly two years.

 

Who has influenced you most in the workplace during your career?

During my time at French Duncan I would have to say that Ian Bremner has been the biggest influence. What he has been able to achieve in hotel accounting within a short period of time is remarkable. And the opportunities that this is bringing for all the staff is great. 

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

My current role has expanded quickly over the last 2 years but I am enjoying learning more about the accounting sides of various different hotels and interacting with the general managers. 

What do you think is the most important quality in a leader?

I don't believe that there is one main quality in being a leader, I believe this is achieved through a number of things, communication, confidence in the work that is being completed and the commitment and passion to complete the job in the best possible way. 

Who has inspired you most in your personal life?

In my personal life I would say my mum is my biggest inspiration, sounds cheesy but she is the reason I am the way I am today and I will be happy if I can make her proud of me.

Any advice for your younger self?

Any advice to my younger self, don't date idiots. No I'll be serious, I'd tell myself not to worry as much about small mundane things and live each day by enjoying it. 

What was your dream job when you were at school?

My dream job, I chopped and changed between two (an accountant and an air hostess) turns out I chose one and my sister chose the other. 

What do you do to relax after a busy day at work?

I usually spend time with my partner and his two little girls, or enjoy a few nights at Ibrox, but most nights you would find me cosy on the sofa with tea and friends. 

 

 

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