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Gail Sterio, Corporate Accountant
Sales, Retail & Purchasing

Gail Sterio, Corporate Accountant

Gail Sterio works as a Corporate Accountant in McDonald's. She holds a Marketing Degree from DIT and recently completed her accountancy exams with the ACCA. It was while she was working part-time in McDonald's during her studies that she went for the interview for a full time position in the accounts department and was successful.  McDonald's encouraged and supported her to take her ACCA exams.

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first question!

What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?

There are two main Career Decision milestones in my life so far. The first was coming to work for McDonald's part-time while studying full time. Little did I know that the part time job would have more to do with my future prospects more so than the degree I was studying for! Secondly was qualifying as an Accountant. This time working full time in McDonald's and studying part-time.

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

1) My older brother.  McDonald's initially started for him as somewhere to earn money while studying.  My brother was working in our local restaurant and it was somewhere that would be flexible regarding his college hours. Needless to say - this ended up being the same route taken by my younger brothers and sister, all 5 of us worked in McDonald's at some stage. Only myself and my older brother are still here...he has progressed to having his own Franchise with his wife.

2) My manager in work.   When I moved on to work in the McDonalds' head office my manager in the Accounts Department suggested studying for accountancy - with the support of McDonald's.

How did you go about getting your current job?

I was working part-time in one of the restaurants while finishing my studies and there was a position advertised on the notice board in my restaurant. It was suggested to me to go for the interview and needless to say I got it.

Describe a typical day?

We can work between the hours of 8.00am and 6.00pm. It suits me to start work at 8.00am and finish up at 4.00pm - this means that I miss all of the bad traffic. This is also facilitated by the fact that I can avail of breakfast in work - usually a bowl porridge that is provided free of charge by the company. Our Accounts department consists of 9 people which means that we work closely as a team.

My day depends on where we are in the accounting month. I run the close of the accounts at the end of the month which puts pressure on the whole department to ensure that all the numbers are correct. I am also part of facilitating the control environment. This is ongoing and gives us a sense of security that our bottom line figures are accurate and allows for all of our procedures to be clearly outlined. As with all Accounts departments, we are governed by the Irish Accounting Standards and local legislation. It can be challenging at times to update new practice into our Accounting System, a recent example of this was moving the VAT Rate from 21% to 21.5%.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

I work as a Financial Accountant therefore financial reporting is a major role in my job. I have to be aware of the current accounting standards. This allows me to take the lead in the annual statutory audit.

McDonald's is made up of company owned restaurants and franchised restaurants. I would have a key role in the franchising element of the business. This would relate to the the franchise accounts relationship and financial reporting.

What are the main challenges?

The main challenges are the systems accounting element of my job and the keeping to dealines when adhoc issues have to be dealt with.

What's cool?

The cool things about my job would be: - Full Irish Breakfast on Fridays  - Casual workwear on Fridays. - Department nights out, which helps to socialise with the different members in the team outside work. - The Christmas Parties to which you can bring your partner and is normally a stayover in a hotel with the meal and drinks free.

What's not so cool?

Not so cool - the obvious thing would be working as an Accountant. Most people would see this as being a boring job. - Another thing that may be seen as uncool would be the response you get from others when you mention that you work for McDonald's, however when I mention the cool things...it seems to change their mind somewhat!

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

I am a qualified accountant - this is quite beneficial to my job. I have good communication skills. I have to work with a close knit team, but I also have to work with a number of of external people, so it is important to also communicate in a professional manner.

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

I took German, Biology, Accounting and Business Studies along with English, Irish & Maths. I think it is very difficult to choose subjects in school. It feels like the world is on your shoulders and that this choice will have a huge impact on your future career.

The reality these days is that people change and mature at different stages in their life. Many people I know are not working in the area that they studied for in College - let alone school.

In hindsight - I think it is important to study what you are good at as this will enable you to get the points you need for your desired college course. The college course normally does not assume prior knowledge in these subjects and will start with the basics.

What is your education to date?

Secondary School St. Louis Highschool in Rathmines. I took English, Irish, Maths, Biology, German, Accounting & Business Studies for my Leaving Certificate. 

College - I studied full time for 5 years in DIT Mountjoy Square where I received: Certificate in Marketing,  Diploma in Marketing and a Degreee in Marketing.

 I also studied with the ACCA part-time, to qualify as an Accountant. You can attend a number of colleges to persue this qualification such as BPP College & Griffith College.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

Studying to become an Accountant with ACCA.

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

Becoming qualified as an Accountant.

What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?

Personal qualities would be attention to detail, self motivation, organisation skills and patience.

What is your dream job?

My dream job would be a primary school teacher. A strange choice, but you never know I may still take that route in years to come.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

In short - yes. My job has allowed me the security in these times of recession. Since I have started working for McDonald's I have gone from moving out of home and into my desired location. I am currently pregnant, but happy with the fact that McDonald's provides individuals with good maternity benefits. McDonald's has also afforded me career progression within the department I work in.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

You need experience in the accounting function for this particular job, especially financial accounting. You have to be able to work closely with others in a team and within cross funtional teams. You need to be qualified as an accountant. and to have to have numerical skills.

What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?

Patience, attention to detail, numerical skills and an understanding of the business environment

What is your favourite music?

I like all types of music

What is your favourite film?

Shawshank Redemption

What is your pet hate at work?

Mondays, after what seems like a short weekend

What is your star sign?


Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?

I have recently qualified as an Accountant. As part of the required professional development with ACCA - I must continue to complete a certain numbers of hours in relation to accountancy.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Work in any accounts department. This will allow you to see the different functions that are needed i.e. payroll, accounts payable and receivable, treasury, different types of reporting. Work experience in your local Credit Union - this will allow you to see the importance of accuracy when counting and inputing of cash.

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