Stephen Bowen FCCA, lease accountant at the BBC’s Centre of Excellence for Accounting and Reporting, tells us about his career
I wanted to work in a finance environment since the age of 13. I have always been fascinated with money as a concept. Accountancy was not my first choice (economics was, being my degree subject), but I was convinced by my father that accountancy would be an excellent career choice. I began in internal audit working for the then recently privatised Welsh Water.
I stick by the motto ‘Don’t give up, as nothing worth achieving comes easy’. I say to ACCA students today, passing the exams isn’t easy – they are not designed to be. Juggling work, life and studying is a challenge. But having the right frame of mind, the passion for the subject matter and the drive to obtain a world-recognised qualification is what gets you through the long hours.
I am not afraid to take risks. After 11 years at Welsh Water (which by then had become Hyder), I left a job in which I had been performing well and moved to a smaller organisation (and a completely different sector) – Chepstow Racecourse. I joined as a financial controller in what was a challenging move, and from which I learnt a lot about the workings of small businesses. It also gave me a good grounding for my later move from Corus (now Tata Steel) to an owner-run container leasing firm.
It’s important to recognise that the job is more than just numbers. Today’s accountants also need to provide a strategic and risk-focused approach and always be open to continuous improvement. In my current role, we have implemented a lean/Six Sigma approach to our way of working, which has helped deliver a respected and high-quality service for our internal needs.
Giving something back is a rewarding bonus to the role I perform as a mentor to ACCA students. It is a pleasure to see younger employees growing in their roles, gaining in confidence and maturity as they progress through their studies and eventually becoming qualified accountants.
It is a constant challenge to keep up to date. Over the past three years I have been the BBC’s finance lease accounting specialist, overseeing the BBC’s finance lease accounting and offering guidance in readiness for the forthcoming accounting standard. This standard is set to radically change the way the business world accounts for all leases over one year, and I’m ready for the challenge.
Outside of work I am a student of the Martial Art of Shaolin Qi Shi Kung Fu. I am also a qualified BSAC scuba diver and an F1 enthusiast. Away from sport, I enjoy art collecting and solving Sudoku and other such puzzles.
This article was first published in the November/December 2015 issue of Accounting and Business magazine