I finished school at a time when not everybody attended university. I chose to find work in my hometown to support my widowed mother. With glowing references from my Saturday jobs, I was offered a training position with a small firm of Chartered Accountants. The partners there had ambitions for me and sent me to study the Foundation Course in Accountancy at the University of the West of England in Bristol.


This intensive, one-year course was the equivalent of a degree and provided an alternative route into many accounting qualifications.

My course tutor referred me to KPMG who, at that time, took a quota of non-graduations into their training programme. I qualified with them as a Chartered Accountant with first time passes at the age of just 23, having spent four years working in their small business team providing accountancy and audit services to mainly owner managed businesses and a number of charities.

Since then my career has taken me into many different areas. From practice I moved into group finance with one of the UK’s largest Plc’s. As well as getting to grips with consolidations, group tax and the interactions with the stock exchange, working at a Group level also opened up a world of mergers, acquisitions and large, group-wide projects. So far, I have worked in five different group roles with four different Plc’s and one of the UK’s largest charities.
I found that my skillset suited project work. I particularly enjoy working with users to solve a problem and design and implement a new system. I get an immense satisfaction from handing over a solution to users, knowing that I have helped to make their lives easier. That experience of project work led me into contracting as many organisations choose to outsource project development.o support my widowed mother. With glowing references from my Saturday jobs, I was offered a training position with a small firm of Chartered Accountants. The partners there had ambitions for me and sent me to study the Foundation Course in Accountancy at the University of the West of England in Bristol.

This intensive, one-year course was the equivalent of a degree and provided an alternative route into many accounting qualifications. My course tutor referred me to KPMG who, at that time, took a quota of non-graduations into their training programme. I qualified with them as a Chartered Accountant with first time passes at the age of just 23, having spent four years working in their small business team providing accountancy and audit services to mainly owner managed businesses and a number of charities.

Since then my career has taken me into many different areas. From practice I moved into group finance with one of the UK’s largest Plc’s. As well as getting to grips with consolidations, group tax and the interactions with the stock exchange, working at a Group level also opened up a world of mergers, acquisitions and large, group-wide projects. So far, I have worked in five different group roles with four different Plc’s and one of the UK’s largest charities.

I found that my skillset suited project work. I particularly enjoy working with users to solve a problem and design and implement a new system. I get an immense satisfaction from handing over a solution to users, knowing that I have helped to make their lives easier. That experience of project work led me into contracting as many organisations choose to outsource project development.

The projects that I’ve undertaken and the problems that I’ve solved have included:

  • Implementing software to prepare statutory accounts for KPMG (Bristol office), Royal Bank of Scotland and Mitie plc, the latter two incorporating iXBRL tagging.
  • Controlling data integrity for new ledger software at Blick plc, Kleeneze plc and Aerosystems International and on the transfer of ledger balances from Nationwide Unit Trust Managers to Legal & General.
  • Training staff on new systems including Excel when it was first introduced at KPMG.
  • Developed systems to monitor compliance with controls at Mitie plc and Legal & General.
  • Developed new reporting for pay costs and resources at The National Trust, first using Excel and then Tableau, ensuring strict adherence to data security policies in compliance with GDPR requirements.
  • Year 2000 compliance at Kleeneze plc
  • Developing a model to forecast short and long-term reserves balances at over 500 properties within the National Trust.
  • Acquisitions and disposals, including:
    • Planned flotation of the European housebuilding division of Beazer plc and the relocation of the parent company to the US. Followed by assisting with the due diligence on the take-over of Beazer plc by Hanson plc.
    • £75m acquisition of part of Mercury Communications whilst at Blick plc (early 1990’s) together with acquisitions in France, the Netherlands and South Africa
    • Acquisition of The Wonderful Book Company and several smaller businesses whilst at Kleeneze plc.
    • Disposal of the Display Marketing Group at Kleeneze plc and wind-down and closure of Actebis Distribution (UK).

I was brought up by parents who valued honesty and integrity and, being an accountant, meant that I could maintain those values. Unfortunately, it has led me into situations where I have had to refuse to compromise those values. At Kleeneze plc I chose to leave rather than be involved in a company which was facing a bleak financial future. The collapse of Kleeneze and its subsidiary, Farepak, resulted in around 150,000 customers losing their life savings. Not wanting to stand by and watch those customers suffer, I organised series of activities to raise money for them in my local area and I volunteered to help those customers get the answers they deserved. It led to my being recognised by the Government for my contribution.

Outside of work I enjoy creative pursuits and am a published author, have exhibited in art exhibitions and run art and craft classes. I relax in my 1/3rd of an acre garden growing fruit and vegetables in a sustainable way in the company of a small flock of rehomed commercial chickens. I volunteer for the charity Coeliac UK as the local group secretary and support other Coeliacs as they get to grips with the major lifestyle changes their disease brings.

I am currently working at The National Trust. During my interview with the former Finance Director, I described the role of Management Accountant responsible for the long-term strategy of the Trust as being one of the most exciting jobs I could do as an accountant. Following a reorganisation of the finance team and that role now ending, I am looking forward to new and exciting challenges.

 
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