International Men’s Day celebrates the positive value that men bring to the world, their families and communities. 

Matt Child is a Trainee Chartered Accountant in our Barnstaple office. He reflects on his career to date, what drives him and his commitment to the local community.

1. International Men’s Day focuses on men leading by example. Has there been an important male role model in your life and, if so, how has he influenced your life choices?

I know it’s a fairly obvious one, but the most important male role model in my life has been my dad. He brought me and my brother up to have a strong work ethic, to be there for those around us, to always have a positive outlook on life and to make the most of any opportunities that present themselves. Why put off until tomorrow, what you can do today?

2. When and why did you decide to become an accountant?

At the age of 38, I have only just started my career as an accountant. For the last 10 years plus, I was a maths and business teacher and have worked in a few schools in North Devon and also at a school in New Zealand, when my family and I took up a chance to live and work overseas for a year. 

I made up my mind to become an accountant whilst I was in New Zealand. I thought that my mathematical skills and logical problem-solving mind set would be ideally suited to the job. I also have a couple of friends who are accountants and they really enjoy their work. Talking to them about it all convinced me that it was the right thing to do. I already feel that I have definitely made the right decision.

3. What are the greatest barriers you’ve faced in your career and how have you overcome them?

I’m actually quite lucky in the fact that I haven’t really faced any barriers as such. One of the more challenging things that I have faced has been starting a new career from scratch, but I have actually really enjoyed the whole learning process so far.

4. What advice would you give to your younger self, just starting out as a trainee accountant?

In hindsight, I probably should have made the switch into accountancy four or five years ago. I think it would have made learning all of the material for the exams a bit easier. Recollection definitely becomes harder with age.

5. Thomas Westcott is a firm that values being part of communities across the South West, not only being there for its clients but also supporting many local charities. Have you been involved with any charity events and how do you support your community?

For the last ten years, I have been actively involved in Ilfracombe Round Table, which is part of an international organisation set up for young men between the ages of 18 and 45. It focuses on encouraging high ethical standards in commercial life, promoting fellowship among young professionals and empowering each individual to make a positive impact at home, work and in his community. 

Each year, we (15 members of Ilfracombe Round Table) raise in excess of £10k for local causes, through events such as the South West Birdman in Ilfracombe Harbour during the summer and, lately, our drive-in cinema events across North Devon. Alongside the fundraising, we also have a great social diary, which enables us all to get together and have a laugh.

6. What drives you in your role?

I love being involved in team work. I am really driven to become a valued member of the Barnstaple office, who can be relied on to get the job done.

7. The theme for International Men’s Day 2020 is ‘Better health for men and boys’. What do you do to stay healthy and achieve a good work life balance?

Around eight years ago, as part of a bet, I ended up running the London Marathon. I had never run anything over 10km before, so at the time of taking this on I only had about four months to get ready for it (and the small matter of £2,000 sponsorship to raise). 

Once I had settled into training, I actually found that I really enjoyed the running and went on to complete another four marathons (Paris, Bratislava, North Devon and Exeter) over the next four years. When I moved to New Zealand, I was persuaded by a friend out there to give Ironman NZ 70.3 a go – again, with only about four months’ notice. This was a fantastic event and I am now training for the Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 and Ironman UK in 2021. Both events were due to take place this year, but were postponed because of Covid-19.

8. We have seen many changes in our professional lives over the last few years. Which positive changes would you like to see in the future?

I think that it is great how everyone has been able to adapt to working remotely. The chance to spend a bit more time with the family (even if it is just being in the house with them in a different room) has been fantastic and this, more flexible, way of working has been very positive for a lot of people.