Alumni interview: A varied career

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Mary Stenson joined the firm in 1984 as a newly-qualified account and left 35 years later as Finance Partner. In this interview, Mary talks about her time with us, picking out some of the highlights from a varied and interesting career.

Mary Stenson

Tell us about your time at PKF

I joined a predecessor firm, Littlejohn & Co, as a newly-qualified accountant in December 1984, having qualified with one of the ‘Big 8’ at the time, and was immediately struck by the friendly approach among the whole team. I was appointed to the Partnership in 1988 and was lucky enough to be involved in a whole range of activities during my 34 years. I started in mainstream audit, covering commercial and insurance clients, developed a significant involvement in expert witness and regulatory work, assisted on the firm’s audit contracts with the EU and finished as Finance Partner.

What are the highlights from your time here?

There were many highlights during my time at the firm, including being part of the teams providing expert witness support in a number of very high profile fraud cases brought by the SFO, in particular the Maxwell and Wickes fraud trials. These provided a fascinating insight to the workings of major court cases. Visiting areas of Eastern Europe while working on the firm’s audit contract with the EU was very interesting and rewarding, as I got to see first hand as those countries emerged from Communism. Fortunately for us, meticulous record keeping seemed to survive the transition!

Are there any other project that you are particularly proud to have supported?

I was pleased with the way in which we managed the move from our Park Place offices, our first in Canary Wharf, to new premises in Westferry Circus in 2008. It was a great example of how well we can work as a team under real pressure, particularly when the removal team got stuck in the goods lift for several hours on the last day!

What have you been up to since you retired?

I retired in March 2019 on what was going to be Brexit day, so my departure was coined ‘Mexit’ well before it was associated with anyone else! I’ve always been interested in travel and managed an amazing trip to India in late 2019, but further plans were stalled somewhat by Covid and subsequent travel uncertainties. I’ve spent more time exploring the UK instead, which has been wonderful. I’ve also taken on a role as Chair of Trustees of my local Citizens’ Advice Bureau, which is both interesting and challenging but still allows me time to travel and plan further adventures.

What do you miss most about the firm?

The people, undoubtedly, but also the intellectual challenge in a fast-changing environment.

What’s next?

I’ve recently had a hip replacement and the recovery is going very well indeed, so I’m starting to think about travels further afield again with Egypt, Vietnam and Cambodia and South America on the list at the moment. Let’s hope no more pesky viruses get in the way!