Since joining Nordens, the multi-award winning chartered accountants in 2010 as a trainee accountant, Panayiota Viglas has had the privileged to develop her expertise within Nordens fantastic training framework thus showing remarkable progress since qualifying in 2013.Following on from winning the British Accountancy Award: ‘Practitioner of the Year 2015,’ the most recent highlight of her career includes becoming an official partner of Nordens in 2016.
Panayiota loves to help clients achieve their dreams and smash their goals, so we interview her on what challenges she faced along the way and how she dealt with them, we also manage to grab some cool business building tips for all us aspiring female entrepreneurs out there.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role at Nordens?
I have been working in practice since leaving university 10 years ago and started my career as a junior in a two-partner firm. This which gave me a great foundation and I got to be involved in everything from bookkeeping, VAT prep, accounts production, auditing and of course learning which were the good biscuits to buy for clients. In 2010, it was time to move on which is when I joined Nordens. Within a year at Nordens I progressed to client manager, responsible for 100 of our clients and began training juniors; I became a team manager in 2013 responsible for 500 clients and was made a partner in 2015 in this amazing award-winning accountancy practice that I’m incredibly proud to be part of.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Growing up I knew I wanted to do something within the business and always loved helping my dad with the bookkeeping for his company (mainly because it made me feel like a child boss!) whenever he would let me. I chose to take Business Studies as one of my A levels which is where I decided I enjoyed accountancy – which is not something you hear every day I’m sure. But I loved the simplicity of learning the rules and applying them; you’re either right or not, but if you’re not, you can easily find out what went wrong.
I can’t say that I planned to become a partner, but I was brought up to try my hardest at anything everything I do and brought that with me into my working career; and I have been fortunate to have joined a company that allowed me to spread my wings and really grow in my career and achieve all that I have.
Have you faced any challenges along the way? How did you deal with them?
I’m naturally very shy, so when progressing in my career I would struggle with the thought of meeting clients. It was so severe that I would panic from the evening before and then secretly hope the client would call before the scheduled time to cancel; I knew I had to overcome this if I was to support my company to the best of my ability and fulfill my potential.
My way of getting over this was to be really prepared. I would research and find out about the industry the client was involved in. I would go over and over my workings, so I knew where every number in the financial statements came from, and what it was made of, and I always prepared an agenda for the meeting with a long list of things to cover (just in case I ran out of things to say).
I can safely say that I’m now actually my most comfortable in meetings with clients and giving business advice and the silent panics are no more.
I still, of course, get nervous before speaking to groups, but I don’t have to do that so often but when I do, I have to channel my inner Sasha Fierce to create confidence. I will also tailor what I’m going to say and how I get it across according to the audience I’m addressing. The audience should benefit from the time too and if I feel I am helping it contributes to me being able to say what needs to be said.
Congratulations on winning the British Accountancy Award: ‘Practitioner of the Year 2015,’ What would you say has been your biggest achievement to date throughout your career trajectory?
Thank you very much. Well, the award is definitely up there but becoming partner at 30 was a moment that I allowed myself to take a breath and feel proud of what I had achieved. I am also incredibly proud of Nordens’ successes and of our company culture that promotes respect, trust, and professionalism.
Passing my exams and getting qualified was also a great one as I struggle with exams; completing them, whilst working full time and trying to have a bit of a social life was tough, but I was determined to get them done as soon as possible. I knew that I just had to sacrifice my time and not go to every single thing I was invited to (and possibly annoy a couple of friends in the process), to fully enjoy the benefits once I had passed.
What would you say is the biggest advantage of having a mentor on board whilst building a business?
There is so much that can be gained from a mentor who has already been there and done it. I am a firm believer in ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’ and would encourage anyone to ask if they need to learn.
Learning from someone else’s experiences, especially their mistakes, can be invaluable. It can save you a lot of stress, not to mention money (or budget?). In many circumstances, you can learn from your contacts and that can help with getting the most professional suppliers or get the best deals.
Sometimes just having a mentor to use as a sounding board to test a new idea whilst you figure your next course of action is all you need to decide what needs to be done.
Can you give us 3 business building tips for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
1.Stick to what you know, focus on being creative and hire others to do anything that would take you away from that.
2.Make informed decisions! As an entrepreneur, you will need to take a few risks along the way but make sure you do your research first and find out what the outcomes of those any risks you may take are. A business plan may seem like a task that you only complete for a bank if you need finance but if you complete It correctly, and do it for your own purposes, then it could end up becoming the most valuable tool you have.
3.Don’t try to do everything at once. Pick the most important thing to focus on… tackle that and once you got to keep it moving on to the next idea or stage of the plan. Too many people get lost in trying to change the world all at once but if the challenge is too great, it’s unlikely to be achieved. Devote your time and energy on the most important thing at the time and then move on to the next challenge once that has been accomplished.