Earlier in the year we launched our first Graduate Scheme, which resulted in bringing Sarah on to the AFP team. We chose Sarah from a very high standard of applicants because she has brilliant social skills, that's not to say she doesn't also have the technical and accountancy skills needed, but more to say that our focus recently has been on Relationship Management. We consider the ability to get on well with others - clients and colleagues alike - and to prioritise communication in all circumstances, to be a very valuable AFP quality.
So far Sarah has been doing very well, despite taking on a lot very quickly! We managed to find time in her busy new schedule to take her aside and ask a few questions:
1. You’re approaching the end of your probation period, how have you found work at AFP so far?
My work at AFP has been enjoyable, I feel like I have learnt a lot over a relatively short amount of time. The varied client base means the skills and experiences I have gained have accumulated quite quickly.
2. What has been the biggest change from University life?
I think the structure of my day to day life is probably the biggest change, getting used to a set start and finish time and actually using an alarm clock has probably been the most noticeable. Luckily my time management skills can be transferred.
3. What is the most useful thing you learned at Uni?
At De Montfort they really drilled in presentation skills and almost every module had a presentation aspect to it. This emphasised the importance of clear and confident speaking as well as the delivery of information in different forms. Although I haven’t had to make any presentations at AFP yet, being able to talk confidently and communicate clearly with people I'm not familiar with is definitely something I'm grateful Uni taught me.
4. What is your plan for the next 12 months?
Within the next 12 months I intend to continue to develop and broaden my knowledge. I will also be starting my CIMA qualification and so look forward to continue studying. The idea of continuing to develop beyond university increasing my skills and knowledge on a professional level is quite exciting.
5. Are there any skills you have needed to use, that you didn’t realise an Accountant needed?
The level of interpersonal skills needed as an accountant is something I wasn’t quite prepared for. Not only working in an office and maintaining work relationships through sharing clients but the level of contact with the clients themselves from a very early stage too. There’s a lot of trust at AFP with regards to client contact and responsibility.
6. What advice would you offer someone thinking about a degree in Accountancy and Business Management?
The accounting side of my degree provided me with a good understanding of the theoretical side to accounting and its processes. At AFP we use at least three different pieces of accountancy software, and although I didn’t gain practical knowledge of using this kind of software at Uni, having some knowledge of ledgers and a good understanding of most accounting terminology meant I was able to pick up the processes easily and the pieces fell in to place quickly. It’s been quite interesting applying the knowledge I gained at Uni in a real life situation.
The business management side of my degree gave me a broader understanding of the processes behind a business and the patterns in decision making. I developed an understanding of basic business law. All of which I can apply to my role as well as try and understand from the client’s side of things, the decisions they may be making and challenges they are likely to be facing, in the day to day running of their business.
Combining the two subjects has left my options much more open giving me the chance to learn more about business in general before choosing the direction for my career and so I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is still a little undecided and would advise that they take advantage of every opportunity offered during their time at Uni, the experiences and memories you can gain at University are invaluable.
7. Have you managed to take any time off since starting with AFP, and how have you spent it?
I have taken some time off recently in order to move in to a little flat closer to work, I feel like I’ve settled in to the company very well and so this has been a big step towards developing my career and stepping into adult life.