We speak to Shamraiz Qureshi, a new ACCA member from Pakistan, about how he approached his studies and the practical experience requirement, and how he thinks students can develop essential employability skills
When I started studying for the Fundamental papers, I realised that the ACCA exams were designed not just to equip students with academic knowledge but also to prepare them for real work scenarios. I was working in a full-time job and pursuing my ACCA studies at the same time, and I particularly found F9 and P2 to be quite challenging. Both these papers are comprehensive and the exams test the candidates’ in-depth knowledge.
Being in a full-time job alongside studying requires maintaining a work-study balance. I learned to effectively manage my work routine alongside my studies. Managing one’s self could also be a challenge and, for the first time in my life, I was using personal planners and prepared to-do lists to make sure I did not miss anything important. Any students who are working while preparing for their exams should take care of their well-being: take proper meals and get enough sleep. Taking short breaks between long study hours lowers the stress level. I remember watching movies between long study hours in the days before the exam. It kept me going.
You might not realise it at the time, but working in a relevant role brings significant impact on professionals. From meeting deadlines and working under pressure to be able to communicate with financial institutions in a professional manner, I certainly felt I have learned several skills over time. I have been really fortunate as the roles I worked in required reporting to either a general manager or senior personnel. Whether it was writing a report or handling correspondence with financial institutions, it has been a worthwhile experience. Until I started working, I did not have a better idea of MS Office, especially Excel, which I am now proficient with.
It is often assumed that accountants do not require good communication and interpersonal skills since they are only concerned with number crunching, whereas it is contrary to the assumption in real-time. Apart from the obvious technical skills and knowledge that all accountants must have, I think that trainee accountants should be concerned about how well they are able to communicate in both ways, in writing and in person. Your achievements on your CV might land you in a job interview but securing the job depends on how well you are able to demonstrate your achievements. My advice to trainee accountants is to work your way up by ensuring you excel in writing as well as in your interpersonal skills.
I did the OBU BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting as soon as I completed the Fundamental level. I graduated in March 2011. The OBU BSc (Hons) enables ACCA students to not only enhance their academic credentials, but it also recognises their knowledge of accountancy and finance and gives them an opportunity to make a real-time application of what they have learned. The OBU degree significantly improved my writing skills, research methodology, problem-solving approaches, interpersonal skills, pressure handling capacity and personal/self-management.
Owing to the improvements in the banking systems and the application of IT solutions, the accountancy profession has evolved incredibly over a decade. Now the way we work revolves more around technology. This could be considered a turnaround move as the change has an impact and its adaptation is pivotal to the professional grooming of accountants.
Professional development is crucial to individuals today. It requires them to be equipped with not only the obvious desired skills but also the knowledge of the changing dynamics of this field.
Students can keep up with these changes by subscribing to ACCA’s emails, participating in discussions on platforms like LinkedIn and attend workshops hosted by ACCA, which are usually free of cost or have a minimal registration fee.