At the end of 2022 Lily Gammon completed the final three Advanced Level papers of her ACA apprenticeship with Reed Business School. Her average mark over the three papers is nothing short of astonishing – making her the second highest performer in the world. We caught up with her for National Apprenticeship Week 2023 to see how she did it.
Lily works as a Senior at Francis Clark – a role that gives her exposure to a wide variety accounting work, including accounts preparation, corporate tax and personal tax. She believes that this range of work has helped her understanding of how different elements of the profession fit together:
“My studying and my job have worked really well alongside each other, especially over the last year – what I do in one has helped me with the other – so now I have much more awareness of how everything intertwines.”
When it comes to her studying, Lily is the master of planning and hard work. She balances her time very well, and isn’t afraid to put the hours in revising – up to three hours in the evenings and more at weekends. Then when exams are around the corner, she somehow finds the time to do even more!
“I’m someone who panics a bit when it comes to exams, so I work really hard to get through it and make sure I can feel confident on the day. I don’t want the one topic I haven’t revised to be the one that comes up on the paper!”
As someone who lives quite far way away from The Manor, Lily opted to do most of her studying with us remotely and enjoyed being able to follow her own schedule surrounded by her home comforts. But that didn’t stop Lily making the most of time with her tutors, asking questions, and getting feedback on her mock questions and papers.
“I would spend the first few weeks going through my notes to make sure they were as good as possible, then I’d move onto completing practice papers and questions. I tried every single one available, and went through the mark scheme and tutor feedback carefully to see where I went wrong and what I could do better.”
It’s certainly a method that works for Lily, and her impressive results are more accident than intention: “I just wanted to pass, I wasn’t aiming to be the best in the world!”
As part of her apprenticeship, she’s also been successful in the Skills and Behaviours element, which she’s been working on with her coach throughout. Lily believes her confidence in talking to clients is what has improved the most.
“When I look at what I can do now compared with three years ago – I’m amazed at how far I’ve come. I’m more confident on the phone, sitting in on more meetings, and feel like I can help our clients much better.”
Lily is now helping to design and deliver an improved training programme for all new trainees at her firm. She’s really happy in being able to pass on what she’s learnt over the past few years, while the process has also helped solidify her understanding of various technical elements of the course.
Lily’s main advice to those starting out in their training is to ask questions to clarify anything they don’t understand.
“There’s no point sitting and struggling, so stick your hand up and ask. It will help everyone in the long run.”
And a note from Lilly’s manager
“We use Reed Business School as they are a well respected training provider and our students have always achieved excellent results studying with them.” Vicky Clancy, Technincal Learning Manager, PKF Francis Clark