Liz comes round to the lure of accountancy
A scrape with a scalpel sparks fresh ambition
"No-one told me you had to cut things up to study pharmacy"
Liz Blackburn’s life in accountancy began the moment she passed out in a university medical laboratory.
Until that fateful black-out she was set for a career in pharmacy, but that dream ended on the first day as a potential student when they told Liz about her dissection kit.
‘No-one told me you had to cut things up to study pharmacy and just the thought of it was enough to make me feel faint. It was all over,’ said Liz. It was then that she decided to study business instead.
‘You have to remember that in those days it wasn’t as easy to research things like degree courses and jobs,’ she said. ‘To get careers information at school we went to a little room in an annexe up a couple of flights of stairs, and if it was open you might find a pamphlet or something. Now you’d just Google it.’
Putting pharmacy behind her, Liz went to Dundee University in her home town to study accountancy. Her entry to the world of finance and to ACCA came via a personal contact, as it so often does.
‘Our neighbour was the CEO of a supermarket chain who suggested I apply for a graduate trainee role at Arthur Young (now EY),’ she said. ‘I got an interview and a job when I was still at university. It was the kind of start every young person needs.’
Liz now saw a future in accountancy, and once again fate intervened to direct her away from one professional body and into the welcoming embrace of ACCA.
‘I was studying with another organisation, and it was all based on lectures and taking notes,’ she said. ‘You might not know it if you met me, but I am deaf on one side and I sometimes struggle to hear in an environment like a crowded lecture theatre. I got on with it as best as I could. There was less support then than there is now, where we try hard to make education accessible for everyone. In hindsight it wasn’t surprising that those exams didn’t suit me.
‘I was determined to carry on with accountancy though. The ACCA studies were based more on textbooks which suited me, and I passed.’
"I have seen so many people gain their qualification, and they experience this surge of self-confidence. It transforms lives. That is wonderful to witness."
It paved the way to a life and a career in accountancy and ACCA which Liz finds endlessly fulfilling. For the last 10 years she has worked for RBS, now NatWest Group, in Edinburgh, most recently as finance controls relationship manager.
‘I joined ACCA Council in 2017, and I love the global perspective it brings,’ said Liz. ‘I now have close colleagues and friends all over the world. That is fantastic on a personal level, and it is really powerful for ACCA too of course.
‘I have been invited to speak at a number of events, and mentor students in my work. I am always keen to talk about the difference the ACCA qualification makes to a person’s life, just like it did for me.
‘I have seen so many people gain their qualification, and they experience this surge of self-confidence. It transforms lives. That is wonderful to witness.
‘It’s one of the reasons why I love being involved with ACCA,’ she said.
‘I enjoy making a contribution, but whatever I give, I get back so much more in the satisfaction it brings me.’