Interested in a career in Finance or Accounting but didn’t study a related subject at University?
With multiple pathways to qualification, ACCA is available to everyone, whether you studied maths, science or even history.
Increasing numbers of organisations are recruiting talent for the finance function from alternative degree disciplines. This stems from the need for well-rounded finance functions to evolve with the changing face of business. So, how can you have a career in accountancy if you have a non-related degree? Read on to find out more.
Sam Wragg has recently completed his ACCA paper F9 in Financial Management, matching the different areas of his rotational graduate scheme at British Airways to the areas of the ACCA syllabus that most closely relate to his different roles. Having graduated University with a degree in molecular genetics, Sam proves that you do not need a background in Finance & Accounting to get a highly sought-after graduate role in Finance.
How did you manage to develop the financial understanding required for your role?
Coming from a non-finance background, studying with ACCA was a key factor in understanding the role of finance in business. In my first role at British Airways, I needed to pick up basic accounting principles very quickly in order to contribute to my team and the ACCA courses really helped facilitate this learning.
Why did you choose ACCA?
The ACCA qualification is renowned for its strong technical aspects, and I really wanted and needed this for my role. I knew this would open up a variety of doors for me and allow me to make real contributions in whichever path I chose. I’d recommend ACCA to anyone considering a career in finance.
What does a regular day at work look like for you?
My first role was incredibly varied. I was a part of the British Airways Gatwick team which has its own dedicated finance team. This meant that in one day I could be dealing with the Marketing team, Ground Operations, Flight Control, varying aspects of the supply chain or the Commercial team. I was heavily involved in the forecasting, reporting and month/year end responsibilities. It even varied geographically, once or twice a week I’d be in the Gatwick office, the rest of the week in the airline’s headquarters near Heathrow. I was even given the chance to help with the training of new team members in Krakow for a week.
What advice would you give to recent graduates looking for their dream role?
The best piece of advice I received was to try and find a graduate scheme that gives you variety. In the British Airways Finance Graduate scheme, we move teams every year. Not only is this excellent experience and great for your CV, but it also gives you a broad understanding of finance. I’ve had several higher level managers tell me getting the varied experience early on in your career can really help you succeed in the long term.
What are your long-term career goals?
As I don’t have a background in accountancy, one of the key things I wanted to get from my time with BA was an understanding of the different paths I could pursue. Do I want to work in Management Accounting, or Financial Accounting? Would I rather work on system implementation/project work, or have the routine that month-end cycles bring? Once I’ve finished the graduate scheme I should have a much better answer, but for now my goal is to get as much experience under my belt as possible.
As a languages graduate in French and German, a career in finance was not Vicky’s original plan. Her interest in finance was sparked du ring an internship at Gu, an entrepreneurial pudding company founded in 2003 and from there she hasn’t looked back.
As one of the youngest Finance Directors in the country for Metcalfe’s Skinny, she says that you have to be ‘motivated and ambitious’ to get to the top. I’m very proud to have made finance director in the time I did. It’s come with hard work, though, so you can’t be afraid of that.
Tell us about your role
I joined as head of finance and recruited two juniors over the following six months. We started by bringing the bookkeeping function in-house, and then built a month-end reporting process and upgraded our IT systems.
With the explosive growth of Metcalfe’s Skinny Popcorn (we had a compound annual growth of 79% between 2013 and 2015) a large part of my role is being able to quickly respond to the wants and needs of our customers and consumers. I have to make sure I respond to what the business needs, which could mean cash if we’re looking to bring a marketing campaign forward in the year. For a company in high growth, we need to make sure we’re operating most effectively to keep up with the rest of the business and we’re continually reviewing our processes.
Why did you choose ACCA?
I chose it because of the breadth of the qualification and because it’s internationally recognised. There are more opportunities for working abroad, which I’d like to do at some stage.
What are your key tips for graduates?
My advice during training would be to move around and experience a number of different finance roles – from supply chain finance to financial reporting – whether that’s through internal roles or internships. The roles I experienced in both a small and large company before I came to Metcalfe’s gave me the skills I needed to build a finance function in-house. It is also important to enjoy your job as you spend so much time doing it. I love food. To be able to be passionate about what you are doing definitely helps.
To find out more visit the ACCA website