Case study

Finance manager — Shamaila Hussain

Shamaila developed a love for accountancy at university before studying the ACCA qualification. She is now a finance manager for IntraHealth, the NHS primary care service

How did you get into accountancy?

In all honesty, I fell into accountancy. My father recommended I did an accountancy and finance degree at university as I was unsure what I wanted to do. I enjoyed maths so thought that I would try it. Within my first year I was very happy with my decision.

What qualification did you study?

I studied accountancy and finance at Teesside University. After university I carried out work both within the private and public sector. I then took a gap year from studying to gain practical financial experience to help me fully understand my job.

Once I was comfortable, I enrolled on the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualification. As I had a degree in accounting and finance, I received exemptions from some modules which meant I only had five exams to complete in order to become an ACCA affiliate.

What did the course involve?

The qualification now has 13 exams which need to be completed alongside a PER to demonstrate three years works experience and an ethics module to qualify as an ACCA member. There are options to study the course via classrooms, online tuition/revision or textbooks. I chose the route of online tuition videos and self-study.

How was it assessed?

ACCA has four exam sittings in the year. Once you have sat the exam it takes six weeks for the results to be published. The PER is authorised by your supervisor who will approve your practical experience.

What did you enjoy about the course?

Everyone can work at their own pace as there is a lot of flexibility in how often you want to sit your exams. The last two exams are also optional. Therefore, I was able to choose the subjects that interested me the most which were advanced audit and advanced tax.

What did you find challenging?

The most challenging part of the qualification is finding the time to study after a hard day at work. Being able to draw a study plan and sticking to it was definitely the hardest part. However, the comfort of seeing the end goal was a true motivator for me.

How has it helped your career?

I was able to secure interviews for roles in companies which I wouldn't previously have received a response from. The qualification enabled me to stand out of the crowd.

What tips would you give to others studying for the ACCA qualification?

I can vouch that there's definitely light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes failing an exam can be disheartening but you should never lose hope. My advice is to take a few days off enjoying the things you love to do and then get straight back to studying as the biggest failure is giving up.

Draw up a study plan, focus on key points and especially your weakest areas. The biggest thing that helped me to succeed was past exam papers. I bought myself the Kaplan revision kit and completed it twice before the exams. My study plan consisted of the first month watching online tuition videos and using study notes, followed by a month of revision and finally a month of past exam papers. I would never sit more than one exam at a time. However, I know many people who have sat two or more exams at a time.

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