Affiliate in 60 seconds – Danielle Scott

Danielle Scott, financial controller at Speedferries in Dover, UK, talks to student accountant about her route to a dream job, about taking nine years to complete the ACCA exams, and how sometimes you need to take a step down, to move up in your career

ACCA affiliate Danielle Scott started work young and has gradually worked her way up to the top – her most recent career move meant a deliberate step down, but this strategy has led to an even bigger step up and the experience of a new industry sector.

‘I left school at 16 to work in a supermarket – I wanted to join the management training scheme, but a shoulder injury prevented me from doing much manual work and so my chances of progression were slim. When I became a mother at 20, I realised that I had to get a ‘proper’ job – while at the supermarket I had taken an accounting A-level at evening classes, got an A grade and was hooked. I gained the AAT qualification, found a job in a solicitor’s office, and within three months had become an accounts manager.

‘After a year of legal accounts, I decided I needed more experience and so moved to an electrical manufacturing firm where I worked my way up to financial controller. My FD said it was vital that I became qualified, as he thought I had the potential to do well, so I chose ACCA as it was his qualification of choice and also because I could work full-time and study with a nearby training provider, BPP Maidstone.

‘My employer then became part of a much bigger group and we stopped manufacturing and started importing, which gave me the experience of working through a major restructuring. I then decided to change jobs, just before my final ACCA results came through.

‘I swapped my financial controller role for a management accountant position at Speedferries. Although this appeared to be a demotion, I wanted a change of industry, some leisure and retail experience, and some longer-term challenges. And as it happened, within four months of my joining Speedferries the financial controller who recruited me moved on and I was asked to step into the role, which I did with pleasure!

‘Speedferries is a relatively young company which started trading in 2004. We run a fast catamaran car and passenger ferry service from Dover to Boulogne, setting new standards for high speeds and low fares. As financial controller, I report to the CEO and CFO who are founder-directors of the company and who are based overseas. I produce management accounts and other information, run the finance department, and – as one of only four senior managers – get involved in any and all aspects of the business.

‘My new role is much more commercially focused, as I help identify new revenue streams and am proactively involved in strategic and long-term decision making. Next year we plan to list on AIM and it will be my responsibility to see this project through from start to finish.

‘It took me nine years to pass my ACCA exams but during this time I also worked full time, was a mum, and was a school governor – and still never failed an exam.

‘As well as an ability with numbers, my ACCA studies have given me a good feel for the way in which operational decisions can affect a business, and an all round awareness of commerce and business management. There may be areas in which I’m a little hazy (such as tax) but I know when to call on expert help.

‘I may study further but currently my job is quite demanding and as my son moves into secondary school his education will take priority. However, I see myself eventually becoming an FD or even an MD or CEO. I’m 31 now, and was a relatively late starter so I think I’ve done pretty well. And, most importantly, I love my job!’


"My FD said it was vital that I became qualified, as he thought I had the potential to do well, so I chose ACCA as it was his qualification of choice"