Different pathways to success with our CIMA students – Reed Business School

This week, we caught up with two of our current CIMA students (Megan Bowmar, Management Accountant at Vocovo and Ashley Andrews Management Accountant at Co Op) about their journey so far, and why studying for their CIMA exams at Reed Business School works for them.

Entry points

Everyone’s journey into accountancy is different, and both our highlighted students this week show that not going to university needn’t be a barrier to success in the profession.

When Megan left school, she wanted to start working straight away, securing a junior role in practice, and beginning her AAT qualification in a local college part-time. She found early on that it was the management accounting topics she enjoyed more – such as budgeting and forecasting, rather than learning the ins and outs of specific regulations.

After moving to a role within industry, she began working towards her CIMA Operational Level, but lost some of her motivation in juggling work and study, meaning it took her longer to complete than she wished. But after securing a new job, and bumping into someone on a CIMA apprenticeship, Megan gained a new perspective on her training, and the boost she needed to continue.

Similarly, Ashley left school at 18, knowing he was good at, and enjoyed Maths, and found work as junior accounts clerk to see whether accountancy might be the right career for him. He really enjoyed it, and a year later, started working towards his AAT in the evenings.

After completing his AAT Ashley took a break from studying, but when the company he worked for began to perform really well and was in a position to support his studies, Ashley was able to undertake his CIMA qualification and begin his pathway to becoming fully qualified.

He began studying at a local college once a week, but as the schedule of classes didn’t really suit him, he conducted further research into training providers and came across Reed Business School.

The Reed Business School way

After doing further research into apprenticeships and deciding it was the right course for her, Megan spoke to her employer, and they agreed that she could transfer to a CIMA apprenticeship with Reed Business School as her training provider.

This gave her the structure and guidance she was looking for to complete each paper, while allowing her to keep earning money, and develop professionally.

Megan particularly enjoys the interactive classroom teaching we provide, allowing students to really engage with each topic, and ask any questions they have of our tutors.

Reed Business School has been excellent – you can contact the tutors any time, and they are really knowledgeable about their specific subject areas.”

As an apprentice, in order to complete her qualification, she must demonstrate various professional skills and behaviours in a project report following her final exam. She gets coached throughout this in order to make sure she is meeting the relevant criteria, and looks for opportunities to develop herself where she can.

“My role is relatively junior and our department is small, so I don’t get to lead on many projects as that tends to fall to my manager. But together we’ve worked out opportunities for me to take the lead on some things (a key skill I need to demonstrate as part of my learning), which I might not have had if I weren’t on the apprenticeship scheme.”

Ashley’s research also led him to Reed Business School to complete his CIMA training, where he too preferred the structured nature of our courses.

Opting to study towards one paper at a time in a slow and steady approach, the weekend classes enabled him to balance his work and home life, especially around the births of his two children.

“The main challenges for me were having young children and trying to fit in the study time. I was able to arrange support for my family in advance of my weekend classes, then do my own personal study in the evenings.”

Ashley’s career has also progressed alongside his training – when a role opened up at his company for a management accountant, he was the obvious choice for it, and his CIMA training has been useful since day one.

Now he’s almost finished his qualification, he’s secured a strategic role within the finance team, and is also on the leadership team. He’s been an instrumental part of the growth of the finance department, and his company has been going from strength to strength.

I can’t fault Reed Business School at all. It’s a great experience every time, I’ve passed every paper first time, and the staff are all excellent.”

Advice for future accountants

Both Megan and Ashley agree that you need to find your own path and work out what’s right for you when it comes to training – there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Megan says: “I know that I don’t learn as well sat in front of pre-recorded content, so going to a classroom was really helpful for me. The apprenticeship structure suited my level of motivation and I’m really glad I took that pathway.”

Ashley was glad he didn’t feel pressured to go to university like many of his peers. He says “I always enjoyed numbers and discovering how businesses worked, so it made sense for me to start doing it as soon as possible, and I found a company who were willing to support me in my continued learning while I worked.”

He encourages every junior accountant to make sure they ask any prospective employer what support they provide to trainees – in terms of paying for study, time off for exams, and professional development within the workplace.

Megan also stresses the importance of having a support structure and community of people to reach out to. Our classroom environment fosters good working relationships between students, but Megan also says “Make use of the tutors, they are there for you, and are amazing at answering all your questions!”

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