Case study

Ruth Akindele — Trainee Auditor

Employer
BDO

Ruth achieved undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in psychology before taking on the role as trainee auditor for BDO, where she's studying towards the ACA Professional Qualification in Accounting

Tell us about your journey towards becoming an accountant.

When thinking about what degree to pursue while in sixth form, this wasn't an easy decision. In the end, I chose my strongest subjects of interest, which were philosophy and psychology.

This led me to a combined course that would allow me to pursue both subjects. However, things didn't work out at the university I was at, and the course would have required additional modules to be accredited.

I ended up switching universities in my second year and going to Aberystwyth University to study psychology, which was also a great opportunity to spend a year abroad. I found through my degree that I had a passion for research, health, and clinical psychology.

I then pursued a Masters within the area of research psychology, through a funded scholarship at The University of Sheffield.

Near the end of my course, I got a job with the National Health Service (NHS) as a trainee clinical associate psychologist. I had the opportunity to continue my love for studying and interacting with others by delivering therapy.

Although there may not seem to be an inherent link between psychology and accountancy, I would say that the principles I've learned both in my academic and working life are transferable for a career change from a psychologist to becoming an accountant.

What made you decide to become a chartered accountant?

One of the main reasons I chose to become a chartered accountant via the auditor route was due to the flexibility in meeting different clients and people.

With my psychology background, I've enjoyed engaging with clients and continuously learning.

What does the role involve?

I'd say that the common theme is that an auditor has a 'financial police' role. On a regular basis, I engage with my clients through meetings, while continually reviewing and testing the clients' financial accounts.

One thing I like about being an auditor is the continual change, by meeting a range of clients. This is a plus for me as I believe that as I grow and develop more in my role as an auditor, I'll gain more experience with different clients, as well as the opportunity to develop my skills in a specific sector.

There are also various opportunities to get involved with the things you may be passionate about, such as mental health, diversity, or religion. For example, as I have a key interest in the value of being yourself, I was able to partake in a video campaign that allowed me to describe what being myself meant to me within the workplace. Opportunities like this enable me to keep my passion burning.

How are your previous qualifications relevant to your current role?

My Bachelors and Masters degrees in psychology weren't essential factors for me being accepted in my job at BDO.

One of the great things about a career in accounting is that it isn't essential to have an accountancy background in order to pursue a career in the field. This means that those interested in a career change can pursue a career in accounting without having to start from scratch.

For instance, there are opportunities to start a career in accounting if you have a degree, and even if you haven't been to university, there's the graduate or school leaver programme to consider.

The field of accountancy is lucrative as it opens doors and opportunities, so even with a degree in psychology, I can still find my feet within auditing while working towards my ACA qualification to become a chartered accountant.

What would you say to others considering a career change to accountancy?

One of the things I'd really highlight in terms of looking at my life and my career is just to go for it - life can take you anywhere and it's essential to be open minded.

For example, I was on the journey to becoming a psychologist but felt it was time to move on and go back to an old passion of mine. As a child I loved numbers, and maths was my strong point. It was time for me to 'face the fear and do it anyway'.

It may seem crazy moving from psychology to accountancy but looking at the bigger picture and my future pursuits, it was the best choice I could make. I can now see the doors and opportunities accountancy will open up for me.

So, bearing that in mind, I'd echo that there are so many opportunities in this world, and you don't always have to stick to what you studied - you can change careers and find a place where you can grow.

With accountancy, there are always opportunities to develop your skills. For instance, going from an audit trainee to an audit senior to an assistant manager, to a manager, or the opportunity to go into a different sector altogether.

After joining a workshop at work, I saw how accountancy can open doors for working in tech. So, I'm grateful for the career change, as well as having a background in psychology. I know that with my experience as an audit trainee and working towards the ACA, there are bound to be plenty of open doors and opportunities. So, my advice is just to go for it, as the decisions you make today can open the doors for tomorrow.

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