Almost all of our June exam prizewinners are in full-time employment. We asked them more about the benefits of ACCA, their future plans, and their top tips for those just starting out on their ACCA journey
From the start of their accountancy careers, all our prizewinners recognised the value ACCA could add to a CV.
‘After researching various accountancy qualifications I felt that ACCA was the one that could follow me throughout my career,’ says joint F7 prizewinner Adam Sibley.
‘The ACCA syllabus covers a number of very valuable topics in great depth which will help me stand out in a very competitive jobs market.’
Breadth and flexibility also attracted F9 prizewinner Jenny Butler: ‘I prefer the ACCA syllabus coverage as it makes the qualification more rounded. ACCA is also a good fit for me as I don’t want to restrict myself to one sector or industry.’
As well as opportunity, ACCA is also seen as the ideal qualification for ambitious accountants wanting to progress. For Bronze medal winning affiliate Andrew Tate, ACCA can open the door to a ‘huge range of roles and responsibilities’. He says: ‘I firmly believe it can provide a solid foundation for anybody to progress towards their career goals. For example, I have never intended to become a "traditional" accountant but instead plan to use my ACCA qualification to help me become a business leader or even business owner.’
‘The fact that ACCA is also so well known is a great advantage when applying for a new position, especially in a smaller firm,’ adds Jenny Butler. ‘Owners or directors of smaller businesses may not know much about accountancy qualifications, but they will have always heard of ACCA.’
F7 prizewinner Poppy Taylor-Porter started her ACCA journey with PwC Southampton as a school leaver – and the firm is still her current employer.
‘All those on the PwC school leaver scheme take the ACCA Qualification as it’s open to those without a degree,’ she says. ‘Personally, I feel I have peaked academically later in life with ACCA giving me the opportunity to gain a well-recognised professional qualification.’
Natural ability was also the driver for Csilla Tóth, the F6 prizewinner from Hungary, and ACCA seemed the perfect route.
‘If you are interested in numbers and calculation, it is the ideal choice,’ says Csilla, adding: ‘I was good at maths at school but wanted to study something practical where I could also use logical thinking.’
Although undoubtedly challenging, many June prizewinners combine work with study – and find this route can deliver real advantages, as Srijana Gautam, P1 prizewinner explains: ‘I am an income accountant at M&G Investments and my role involves performing different accounting processes. I can therefore apply the accounting knowledge gained from my studies to my work, and this has helped me broaden my knowledge and skill set.’
‘Work experience is a huge help when taking ACCA exams,’ adds P6 prizewinner Elizabeth Barrett. ‘It makes the exams much easier if you already have a good basic knowledge of accountancy, so try to work in as many different areas of the profession as possible – this will also help you find the ideal position, one that interests you and suits your strengths.’
Joint F7 prizewinner Isobel Strong is also a strong supporter of working while studying, but recommends students find an employer committed to training.
‘Look for an organisation which can support you in your studies and which ideally also employs other trainees. A basic knowledge of accountancy, gained at work, will help you through the first few exams, and the support of other student colleagues can be very beneficial and a source of real encouragement.’
In common with many student accountants, Adam Sibley works for a small accountancy practice which, he says, can also be a real advantage: ‘I get to see a range of different clients and this has allowed me to gain invaluable practical experience.
‘A key advantage of working for a smaller practice is that you get to see how the whole business works, rather than being restricted to one practical area.’
While you may not be planning to travel far at the moment, you never know where your career will take you – and just how valuable your ACCA Qualification could become. Take F6 (UK) prizewinner Julia Oster.
‘Russia is the fourth country I’ve worked in as a management accountant,’ she says. ‘A globally recognised qualification is essential if I want to pursue a professional career and have the flexibility of choosing where I want to work’.
Piotr Gogolewski, P5 prizewinner, has always worked for big international corporations (he currently works for Coca-Cola in Poland) and, he says, ‘the fact that ACCA is globally recognised means it will always be valued and allows me to enter the global job market.’
Gold medal winner Fiona Schilk (who works for KPMG in Germany) adds: ‘Having a globally recognised qualification provides you with the international edge that both employers and clients are seeking – it opens up doors you never knew existed.’
‘It also demonstrates the fact that international accountancy boards are working together,’ adds Isobel Strong, ‘and means my qualification is transferable if I ever want to further my career in another country.’
For P2 prizewinner Sofiya Nikolova, ACCA’s international recognition ‘is like a business card that speaks equally to all clients and employers – at home and internationally – about your level of skill and knowledge.’
Craig Henderson, silver medal winner, is already finding this to be true; he currently works as an audit assistant for KPMG London, and says ‘the fact that ACCA is internationally recognised helps when discussing matters with clients based overseas, as I have to do in my current role, and it can provide a common ground for building strong relationships with them.’
As silver medal winner Craig Henderson so succinctly puts it: ‘If you work hard and gain your ACCA Qualification, an incredible number of opportunities will appear – from the businesses you will see to the places you can go, and the people you will meet’.
So what are our prizewinners planning to do when they are ACCA members?
Many are understandably ambitious.
‘I’d like to be the finance director of a thriving successful business, having contributed to its performance and growth by providing relevant analysis, foresight of potential gains, and all-round effective planning,’ says Elizabeth Barrett.
Andrew Tate has already mapped out his route to the top: ‘I want to gain experience in a number of different roles and departments, as this will help me choose the most suitable role to progress to at a senior level.
‘Ideally, in 10 years' time I want to be moving towards a partner role in an existing accountancy practice or consultancy firm, or perhaps starting to set up my own business.’
But accountancy is a surprisingly diverse career, and some of our prizewinners have equally diverse ambitions.
‘I am interested in fraud detection and forensic accounting,’ says F8 prizewinner Kateřina Červenková, ‘so as soon as I have gained my core audit skills I would like to move into fraud prevention, detection and investigation – I am a very curious person and always keen to figure out what went wrong.’
Prameela Elayadath, P4 prizewinner, also plans to specialise – but in a totally different field: ‘I currently work as a chief accountant for the Dubai Transport Company,’ she explains, ‘but eventually I hope to return to my home country to set up an educational institution to provide professional courses in the field of finance and accounts.’
We wish them all well!
|‘Use every opportunity to gather additional knowledge of your field, and show you have excellent competence and integrity’
Julia Oster, F6 prizewinner
|‘Accountancy is no longer just about ‘number crunching’ – to succeed, you have to think broadly, be keen to solve complex problems and clearly communicate your findings’
Kateřina Červenková, F8 prizewinner
|‘Focus on your goals and be prepared to work hard; when you don’t understand something that’s fine – it’s all part of the learning process’
Srijana Gautam, P1 prizewinner
|‘Combine work with study if possible – it’s then easier to understand the principles and rationale behind your work, and to see the bigger picture’
Sofiya Nikolova, P2 prizewinner
|‘Develop your analytical thinking skills – an inquisitive mind and the ability to adapt to any role are also vital for success’
Prameela Elayadath, P4 prizewinner
|‘Don’t be afraid to move job to gain different accountancy experience, and don’t be afraid of challenges that worry other people – they give you the opportunity to demonstrate your skills’
Piotr Gogolewski, P5 prizewinner
|‘You can’t pass an ACCA exam with minimal effort – they really do require hard work and commitment but if you put in the time you’ll reap the benefits’
Poppy Taylor-Porter, P7 prizewinner
|‘Understanding the bigger picture is much more rewarding – don’t just memorise the detail but think about how it fits together’
Fiona Schilk, gold medal winning affiliate