Rachael, Partnership Accounts Associate; CIMA Level 7 Apprentice
Maths has always come naturally to me, but I hated studying it in school. When I was 18, if someone had asked me if I wanted to be an accountant, I would have laughed. It’s funny to think about that now as I’m currently doing a CIMA Level 7 apprenticeship with hopes to become a Chartered Accountant. It turns out you don’t have to be good at Maths to be an accountant – logic, analysis and reasoning play a much bigger part.
I’ve worked at Vets4Pets for over three years and am currently in the Practice Accounts team. Our team produces the management packs for our Joint Venture Partners, which are the financial summaries of a period’s trading. I first started in the Sales Leger team and then moved to the Compliance Team before coming to the Practice Accounts team.
When I was younger, I took an accounts role working in the sales ledger team, but I had always been interested in teaching so after a few years, I decided to go and work for a Children’s Centre where I ran groups for parents and children and ran parenting courses. I did that for a number of years and started an OU degree in early education, and although I enjoyed it, I decided I was better suited to accounting. I think it’s a good fit for how my brain works. I need a job that challenges me in a way that I enjoy, and accounting does that.
When I started at Vets4Pets, I had already completed level 2 AAT, then went on to complete Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Accounting, and Level 4 Professional Diploma in Accounting. When our Learning and Development team shared details of the new government apprenticeship initiative, I decided to apply for the CIMA Level 7 apprenticeship. I thought it was a really good opportunity to study CIMA in a different way.
I started my CIMA Level 7 apprenticeship in April 2018 through Bristol First Intuition, which our Learning and Development team worked with to develop a tailored apprenticeship programme just for us. Several times per year, I go to Bristol for a skills day that covers a specific topic such as leadership or project management. These are really great learning days that I wouldn’t get the opportunity to do if I wasn’t completing CIMA through an apprenticeship. I also spend roughly five hours per week studying, so I need to be organised and conscientious because besides my full-time job, I have two small children, a husband and a Zuchon puppy.
It can be hard to juggle work and studies and even booking your exams can be difficult depending on what’s going on at work. It could be period end or even year end. My manager is really helpful though, and we work together to balance the time off that is permitted by the apprenticeship scheme with work deadlines. He also tries to make sure the tasks my apprenticeship requires are integrated into my every day work so I’m not doubling up on my work load and I have the opportunities I need to fulfil the requirements of my apprenticeship. He’s been really good.
Because I’m completing CIMA through an apprenticeship, I get to rotate within three of our finance teams so I get experience in most aspects of finance. This is really good as you wouldn’t normally get the chance to do this. This was one of the key things that helped me to decide to do the apprenticeship. I get to spend one year each in the Compliance team, the Accounting Services team and the Commercial Finance team. When I complete my studies and become a CA, I want to move into the Commercial team; forecasting and budgeting interest me as it’s forward looking.
I would definitely recommend the apprenticeship route to anyone as it opens up a wider range of career options. Here at Vets4Pets, they want colleagues to qualilfy and progress. They promote it, and they make sure they provide the opportunities.
To find out about available apprenticeship training with Vets4Pets, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.