Case study

Group financial analyst — Amy Godwin

Amy completed more than half the ACCA syllabus through her Accounting and Finance degree at Sheffield Hallam University. She now works as a group financial analyst at Balfour Beatty plc

How did you get your job?

After my second year of university I undertook an industrial placement year, working at BMT Defence Services (a naval engineering firm) as an accounts assistant for 13 months. As my degree was accredited by the ACCA Accelerate programme, I completed my it with eight exemptions from the (then) 14 papers required to become an Associate Chartered Certified Accountant.

Upon graduation I joined Balfour Beatty as a finance graduate in their Major Projects business unit. While working at Balfour Beatty, I was able to sit my remaining exams quarterly, from December 2017 to March 2019, and my full ACCA membership was granted less than two years after graduating.

How was your qualification funded?

My degree was accredited by the ACCA Accelerate programme, which subsidised my fees while studying. When I joined Balfour Beatty, my learning was funded by the company.

What's a typical day like?

I'm involved in group management reporting - including reporting multiple entities and reviewing submissions across the business, verifying reporting positions and understanding ongoing operations. Depending on the time in the financial year, this extends to supporting production of Half Year and Full Year accounts, as well as involvement in the budget process.

I also undertake project work, which can include governing policy compliance, supporting system implementations, doing impact assessments on new accounting standards to be adopted and coordinating taxation and R&D Expenditure Claim submissions. I also produce both routine and ad-hoc reporting analysis for senior management and external stakeholders, which includes project progression for business portfolios, as well as business unit performance against forecast and other key performance indicators, considering risks and opportunities.

I am responsible for coordinating commercial resolution and managing progression of branch liquidations in overseas territories.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy how collaborative my role is. It requires me to constantly liaise with different business units and understand their sector and strategy. I am exposed to discussions and insights at senior management level because I produce reporting to support decision-making and ongoing operations.

Would you recommend Accelerate and why?

I absolutely would recommend Accelerate. Registering for it ensured that I left university with a developed skillset, meaning that I was ready to apply for the career I wanted.

Because my university studies were accredited by ACCA I knew the learning and content was comprehensive enough to match the ACCA requirements and expectations of an accounting professional, which also prepared me for the Strategic level papers.

What have been your career highlights so far?

  • At university I achieved one of the top ten marks for my degree in accounting and finance.
  • At Balfour Beatty, one of my best achievements has been leading the dissolution of my first international Joint Venture agreement with the JV partner.
  • An ACCA highlight was being a member of the working group, which attained the ACCA Approved Employer status for Trainee and Professional development at Balfour Beatty.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known at university?

If opportunities arise to develop your soft skills through extra-curricular courses, committee positions or by taking a leadership role in a group task- make the most of them.

Soft skills are valued by employers. They like to see that an individual is willing to develop and improve their skillset. In addition to your technical capability, soft skills reward you during both the recruitment process and in the work place.

What tips would you give those studying the ACCA qualification?

If you're studying alongside a job, try and complement your studies with your work to enhance your understanding or take the opportunity to spend time with people in the roles that cover the syllabus to discuss topics and learn. Understanding the business application can help visualise processes. The ACCA offers some degree of freedom in the order in which you sit your exams, so this can be advantageous if it can be tied to learning at work. For example, if the business is completing impact assessments on a new standard, the SBR paper would really enhance your understanding and enable you to actively contribute.

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