The path to my career in accountancy started when I chose my A levels, it was a choice that was designed around a business degree of some sort. I went to university open days and decided Accounting and Finance was the degree for me, and accountancy was the profession I wanted to specialise in.
Why the ACA qualification?
I wanted to be the best that I could be and ACA delivered that. There was no other accountancy qualification that I wanted to get.
I was extremely lucky to train with KPMG in Leeds. They made it as easy as it could have been, with the study programmes and time off that we were given.
Is it tough working and learning simultaneously?
Training to be a chartered accountant is demanding. You are suddenly thrust from being in university where you have all the time in the world to study, to holding a job down and then managing to fit your study around that, but irrespective of time off and support you get they are an incredibly demanding set of exams and there were some very dark days where I wondered if I would get through them.
What has been your career path to date?
I left KPMG in 1998 and I went to work for a smaller firm in Manchester. Since then I have spent some time in the Middle East working for Ernst & Young and within the internal audit department of United Utilities.
I moved into the sport media and entertainment industry via a large advertising agency and now work for Manchester United within their finance department.
Who is suited to chartered accountancy?
These days anybody, you don’t have to be a bookworm or heavily into your numbers. The great thing is there is a position for every type of personality.
What skills do you need?
Apart from having a good understanding of numbers, communication skills are absolutely vital. Increasingly we deal with non-financial people, such as heads of departments. We need to find a ways of communicating effectively so they understand what we are trying to get across.
What is it like working for a football club?
The morale in the office if we win a game is incredible, particularly if it’s an important game like when we proceeded to the semi-final of the Champion’s League. It was a great atmosphere in the office the day after!
How do you deal with stressful situations?
You are facing a situation which you have never faced before, but you draw back on experience you had when you were training and you build up a resilience to dealing with difficult situations, either technical, financial or even personal. The ACA qualification has given me the ability to understand and analyse situations that you deal with on a day to day basis.
What are your main responsibilities?
As financial controller, my main day to day role is managing the finance department, everything from making sure suppliers and players get paid, to making sure everything from a transfer fee or hospitality ticket sales are invoiced. Although the pivotal part of my job is to make sure that our financial reporting is done on time, to the right level of accuracy and delivers what our shareholders and the Inland Revenue require.
We want to be the best both on and off the pitch. Each season is different and this gives unique challenges. Part of my role is to get involved in financial appraisals for new ventures, it may be upgrading our facilities, hospitality boxes or catering. Being involved in operational issues at the highest level is very exciting.
What do you need to be successful?
Being numerate is critical but I think you just need to not be afraid of numbers. It’s an obvious point, but you have to be looking for what the figures are telling you. I look at my monthly accounts and it tells me everything I need to know and they also tell me what questions I need to ask about the business.
You have to be prepared for hard work, it is tough but when you get qualified the rewards are there. When approaching your career, I think it is important to show how you are different. Something that sets you aside from others, like getting some relevant experience, trying it for yourself will get you those CV points and make you stand out.