An insider’s guide to employer accreditation 3

Prasenna Balachandran is a prize-winning ACCA student and trainee accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Here he talks to student accountant about the benefits of working for an ACCA Accredited Employer

At school, Prasenna Balachandran originally planned to be a biologist, and considered accounting a second choice career. But once he started to study accountancy, he began to change his mind: ‘I realised that an accountancy career offered some distinct advantages, and one of the most important was mobility. Not only can you work in different countries, but you can also work in different industries – from a hospital to an agricultural firm. I can’t think of any other career which gives you so many opportunities. I was also inspired by other students I knew who had already gone into accountancy – I admired their style, they were certainly very smart, and they had already developed leadership skills and seemed to have an edge over other students.’

Prasenna first completed his AAT examinations but then looked to qualify with an accounting body which would offer him a real advantage: ‘I wanted a unique qualification, not one which every accountant had. I learnt about ACCA from my course tutors and I was attracted by two key factors. Firstly, ACCA’s role as a leading international accountancy body. Secondly, ACCA provides an opportunity, through its relationship with Oxford Brookes University, to gain both academic and professional qualifications, such as a BSc in Applied Accounting or an MBA. This meant I no longer had to go to university following my A Levels but could enter my chosen career straight from school.’

Prasenna joined PricewaterhouseCoopers in Colombo as a trainee accountant after completing Part One of ACCA’s Professional Scheme. ‘When I joined PwC my job was to assist senior staff when undertaking audits. Now that I have completed my first year, I am already being asked to undertake audits by myself, a great development as I find the whole process of audits, and meeting deadlines, very interesting and challenging. This has greatly boosted my confidence.’

Not only is Prasenna happy to be working in audit, but he’s also delighted to be working for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Colombo, an ACCA Accredited Employer: ‘My ambition is to become a forensic accountant, but there are no firms offering this service in Sri Lanka at present. Instead, forensic accounting is offered by audit firms, and so I decided to apply for a job with PwC, as it has an outstanding reputation. It also supports its ACCA students very well, especially allowing ample time to study for exams.’

Prasenna has already performed exceptionally well in his ACCA exams. He won the June 2003 Sri Lanka prizes for Papers 1.1 and 1.3 and December 2003 prizes for Papers 2.1 and 2.2. Prasenna also achieved second place worldwide for Paper 2.2. His achievements also won him a further prize from PwC. He is now looking forward to his future career: ‘Through my ACCA studies, and through my work for PwC I see myself becoming a good accountant, and also developing as a person. Already, my project management and communication skills are improving, and I am gaining sound technical knowledge from ACCA, further improved by the excellent hands-on experience I get in my role at PwC. My ultimate ambition is still to be a forensic accountant, and I know in order to achieve this I will have to travel abroad, but my ACCA qualification and my contacts in PwC will help me achieve my dream.’

"I realised that an accountancy career offered some distinct advantages, and one of the most important was mobility"