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Sean McGrath is Reading the Tea Leaves… Seeking the Entrepreneurial Spirit in Every Accountant

In the first of a series of video chats, Iconic Resourcing’s Hannah Green picked the brain of Entrepreneurial Scotland’s Sean McGrath on the topic of Entrepreneurship in Accounting.

They discussed Scotland’s long history of innovation and invention, the critical criteria for seizing opportunities, and how accountants are the “rock stars of business.

Sean began his career working as a Brand Manager for companies like Red Bull and Monster, before retraining as an accountant and joining Deloitte, becoming a CA in 2014. Before long, he had become the Financial Controller at Scottish Investment in London before moving to his current role as the Financial Director of Entrepreneurial Scotland.

Entrepreneurial Scotland is an independent charitable organisation which aims to foster entrepreneurial action and leadership, helping others to unlock and unleash their potential for the benefit of all.

Listen on Spotify:

Key Ideas:

Here are the key points we’ve taken from our conversation with Sean:

  • Entrepreneur isn’t a job—it’s a mindset, a skillset, or an approach to business. Entrepreneurs are people who drive change.
  • Accountants are ideally placed to be entrepreneurial: they work with different types of organisations; get to see ‘under the hood’; understand the numbers that drive business forward; and this understanding conveys credibility when proposing new ideas.
  • Entrepreneur in Latin means ‘first to do.’ Entrepreneurs recognise a good idea and act on it, this doesn’t mean the idea must be their own.
  • Sean introduced us to the term ‘intrapreneur’ – someone inside an organisation acting in an entrepreneurial way – but said that, to him, there’s no difference between intra- and entrepreneurs.
  • Small firms grow and large firms expand into new markets only when those inside them act in an entrepreneurial way. An accountant working with in an industry has enormous scope to innovate.
  • The three critical characteristics to access in order to be more entrepreneurial are: confidence, resilience, and connectivity.
  • Organisations look for commercially-minded accountants capable of out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Accountants working in small and mid-range firms sometimes get to see more of a business as a whole, and gain a deeper understanding, than those working for larger organisations.

Sean was an excellent guest for our inaugural video, and he certainly gave us a lot to think about. You can find out more about Entrepreneurial Scotland and becoming a Saltire Scholar here.

We’ll leave you with our favourite quote from Sean:

‘There are accountants that brew the tea, and there are accountants that read the tea leaves’

So, at least we know who not to ask to put the kettle on.

For any questions on this topic please don’t hesitate to reach out to Hannah Green or Sean McGrath. If you would like to work with Iconic Resourcing and for support on how to attract and retain the right people for your business please contact Hannah at