Driven to succeed
Car fanatic Dominic Hall FCCA, BA (Hons), is director of finance, financial planning and analysis for Aston Martin. He loves that accounting affords roles in every possible sector, ensuring trainees can follow their interests.
Dominic Hall decided he wanted to be an accountant during his A levels, as he was enjoying maths and saw it as a great way to use these skills and move into business.
‘I talked to large and medium accounting firms at the time and they said I didn’t need a specific degree, so I chose philosophy, a subject I was interested in, knowing there was plenty of time and opportunity through my training to cover the business and accounting knowledge needed,’ he says.
‘Although my view is that you don’t have to do an accounting degree to be an accountant, personally I found that through the graduate selection process, my degree seemed to help me stand out from other candidates.
‘The downside is you don’t get any exemptions and have to work to catch up with people who have covered bookkeeping, accounting concepts and business terminologies, although it is definitely possible to close the gap quickly in my experience.’
After studying for his degree at the University of Nottingham, Dominic chose the ACCA Qualification as it provided strong training and opened doors to a career in practice or industry.
‘It was the diversity of commercial finance and technical accounting that I found interesting.
‘I had a training contract with RSM (Baker Tilly) and studied at BPP in Liverpool. It was great to train in practice, due to the variety of clients and the excellent study support. When it was time to study for exams, all of the staff from partner down to seniors gave me space to focus on exams and pass them quickly.’
He passed all of his exams first time – until his final exam, Advanced Taxation: ‘This was the first exam I failed in my life and the last exam I was aiming to take. The retake was my last exam.’
Dominic left practice to work in a group finance and accounting role at McLaren Technology Group (Formula One, applied technologies and luxury automotive group), before moving into automotive finance roles.
He has always been interested in cars and jokes that he thinks ‘car’ was the first noun he ever learned.
‘I believe one of the great things about a career in finance and accounting is that there are roles in every company, charity, professional service or public service that are available to suit everyone’s interests,’ he says.
‘The great thing about working for Aston Martin is the variety of exposures. In finance you get to see end R&D, capital projects, manufacturing, operations, sales and distribution, retail and customer management with the associated commercial finance, budgeting and technical reporting/accounting challenges.
‘The company is also relatively small, so there is good exposure to CEO/CFO, executive chairman and the board, while keeping in touch with the key operations teams.’
Two Aston Martins – the Valhalla and DBS – appear in the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die, with Dominic leaning towards the DBS as his current favourite.
‘I think it looks beautiful and the V12 engine sounds very special. From history, I love the DB4 Saloon, although there are lots of fantastic Aston Martin cars.
‘I actually drive a Mercedes A Class – it is a very economical and it’s difficult to turn off my accountant brain! I did have an Aston Martin DB9, although with three children it wasn’t very practical!’
Best advice ever received?
From my mum: do what makes you happy. You will all be able to do great things with hard work and skill, although a career is a long time, so it really helps if you enjoy what you do and how you do it.
Top career tips
The best tip I have at the start is really focus on completing the exams
I know people have different circumstances, although if you can do two or three at a time, it really creates opportunities much sooner to follow your passions.
Then, where possible, get varied experience, which is easier in practice, or professional experiences to work out what your passion is.
- What area of finance or accounting do you enjoy?
- What kind of company and culture interests you?
- What size organisation suits your personality and ambitions?
Different experiences will help you make an informed decision. Many people may be pulled to a brand or a product/service that a company delivers.
I believe it’s finding the company that will help enable you to grow and develop quicker, while enjoying the progression, rather than wishing your career or life away.
Author: Alex Miller, journalist
This article was first published in Student Accountant in October 2021