Elizabeth Munnelly lives in Wisonsin, but got there via Dublin, London and Kilkenny. Read more about her journey from rural Mayo to the USA here.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in a small rural village in North Mayo called Ballycastle which is home to an iconic landmark on the Wild Atlantic Way. I attended college in Dublin City University to study Accounting & Finance and stayed in Dublin for close to 10 years before moving to London, Kilkenny and now finally the US to work across a variety of different roles for a number of companies. I currently work for Kerry Group based in our North America HQ in Beloit , Wisconsin as VP of Financial Control, Tax, Treasury & FPA.
What made you choose to become a Chartered Accountant?
My family run a small restaurant in our local village of Ballycastle, and so I grew up in an environment of understanding how business needs to run in order to be profitable, to always be able to pay your bills, minimise your waste and pay off your debts. The hospitality industry was a great place to learn about business as the margins in food and hospitality are minimal.
Also, I always loved maths and business studies in school so Accountancy did feel like a natural fit. Once I joined the Accounting & Finance degree in DCU it was clear to me that the Chartered Accountant qualification was one I wanted to achieve and so I did this via the route of completing a training contract with Deloitte in Dublin where I worked in the Consumer Business division with a variety of different clients.
Can you tell us a little about how you got to where you are today – both the geographical location and your career path?
While completing my training contract with Deloitte I became very interested in industries in the FMCG space such as retail and food as they are such an integral part of day to day life and I found this very interesting. I would advise people to try and be involved in a business in which they have some interest personally as this really will help to cement your connection with the company you work for and also hopefully create a sense of belonging.
After my training contract I joined Tesco in their Ireland office based in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin and worked in the Commercial division where I learnt a huge amount about the way retail operates at its very fast pace! I subsequently held another role in Tesco based just outside London before moving home to Ireland again and moving to Glanbia to work in both the Corporate Division and the Sports Nutrition division. After that I joined Kerry, initially based in Naas holding an Operations finance role which enabled me to visit a number of factories across the globe. I then relocated to North America, first completing a Commercial Finance role as Finance Director Beverage before moving to my current role as VP of Financial Control, Tax, Treasury & FPA.
One of the key learnings I’ve had in my career to date is to make sure to own your career planning and development as nobody else will have as strong a drive to make it happen as you do.
What do you value most about your membership of the profession and how do you think those benefits can be used to support the economy and society?
The key value I see in the accountancy membership is the professional, educational and ethical standards it sets and maintains for all its members; organisations are assured of certain standards when an individual has this qualification and this is very important for the economy and society at a wider level.
As a member living in the USA, can you tell us about how your membership has been of value to you globally and what do you value about it now that you’re living overseas (and what would you like to see more of)?
As I’ve mainly been overseas during Covid times, I have not utilised the in-person events yet. However I do keep abreast of updates and trends as highlighted by various updates and online courses.
I think the key piece for me is having a ready resource to access services and other professionals when needed and I do see this continuing to be very important for me as my career continues.
And finally, if you weren’t an accountant, what do you think you would have been?
I think I would have worked in the hospitality or tourism sector!
Elizabeth Munnelly is VP of Finance at Kerry.
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