Sophie originally wanted to join the army, but when that didn't work out, she decided to become an accountant, and quickly worked her way up (without going to uni). She tells us how she did it.
Name: Sophie Tyler
Company: Dolan Accountancy
Job role: Team manager
Length of time in role: Two months (in current role)
AAT Accounting Qualitications (equivalent to A-levels and year one of a degree)
1. What was your very first job?
I worked part-time at a clothing shop. I got the job through a friend of my dad’s. The main thing I gained from the role was an increase in my confidence; I often dealt with customers who were usually a lot older than me.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
I wanted to join the army! I had it all planned out but then personal circumstances when I was finishing school meant I couldn’t go ahead.
3. How did you find out about the industry?
My uncle was a partner of a large accountancy firm and I asked him lots of questions about it. I like being challenged mentally so accountancy was a good choice for me.
4. How did you get to where you are today?
After I left the clothes shop, I moved into a cashier job at a bank. I didn’t enjoy this job at all – it was hard selling, the sales were demanding, and face-to-face customer interaction could either be very pleasant or very unpleasant! I started to consider accountancy, and was advised by a family member to start with the AAT qualification. From the bank I went into an entry-level role in a small accountancy firm; unfortunately though, it didn’t work out.
I went into another similar job role in a large accountancy firm and was there for around four years, working my way up from a support role to senior accountant. I wasn’t able to obtain further progression so I moved to my current workplace, where I completed my AAT qualification and have managed to be promoted to team manager in a year of working there.
5. What is a typical day like?
I check my to-do list; there’s usually lots of work to be done! And of course assisting my clients with their queries, plus working on VAT returns and year end accounts.
I have the opportunity for other things too – meetings with clients, team members, etc. It’s always very busy but that’s how I like it!
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
The people I work with – as a team we rely a lot on each other, and it’s always great to have a close team to work with.
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Time management – there are lots of deadlines to remember and lots to do in specific time frames.
8. What’s the number-one most important transferable skill needed for your job?
Teamwork is very important as there will be time your colleagues will need help with their work, or advice on certain technical queries their clients may have. You’ll need to be confident dealing with people – clients and colleagues! There are a lot of positive interactions with clients and colleagues, but if you do work in contractor accountancy alongside clients you’ll need to bear in mind that sometimes customer services isn’t easy.
9. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
There are different ways you could get into accountancy (one of them is to do an apprenticeship). If you want to work for the top accountancy firms, I would advise checking out their school leaver programmes – they will train you up while you study towards getting accountancy qualifications. If you don’t fancy this and would rather work at a smaller firm, they usually offer similar study support alongside doing the job. University is still also a great step for going into accountancy.
10. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
I wish someone had stressed the importance of being qualified! I took a lot of breaks in between studying AAT because my job at the time didn’t require me to be qualified – but in reality, I think the qualification is very important for learning the technical aspect of the work you’re doing.
11. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
I would like be a Chartered Certified Accountant with a large team of accountants. I would like to look at furthering my career by taking on responsibilities past those of team manager.
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