Education in the UK: Meera Patel, ACCA student and assistant accountant at Kaplan International
Almost every ACCA student will recognise the Kaplan name. Recent prize winner Meera Patel not only studies with Kaplan but also works there. We find out more about her career so far.
‘Having always had an interest in business and economics, I decided to follow an accountancy career as I felt it suited my skills. It would give me the opportunity to use the knowledge I’d gained in my economics degree course, which had included a couple of finance modules that I’d enjoyed.
‘In 2014 I finished university and began my career as an accounts assistant at Kaplan International (the division delivering English language tuition), mainly doing accounts payable. I applied for the position because it seemed to be a well-rounded junior accounts role that did not require previous accounting experience.
‘I had heard of Kaplan, and a relative was already working there, so I knew it was a good place to start my career. I liked the fact that Kaplan was in the education sector, as I wanted work for a company that makes a positive impact on society – and Kaplan does this by teaching students a language that can lead to new opportunities.
‘I chose ACCA for my professional qualification as it’s internationally recognised (if I ever want to work in another country) and covers a wide range of areas within finance and business. I didn’t want to study for a qualification that would limit me in any way, especially as I had not studied finance before and wasn’t sure how I wanted my career to develop. I also knew people who had studied with ACCA, which made me more confident in my decision.
‘I enrolled as an ACCA student in 2016 – I receive full financial support from Kaplan International, study for my exams with Kaplan Financial, and am actively encouraged by my department to develop my career.
‘In 2015 I had been promoted to assistant accountant, where I gained more experience of finance and accounting, including tasks such as profit and loss analysis, balance sheet reconciliations, prepayments, fixed assets, accruals, budgeting, cash flow forecasts and intercompany reconciliations. In 2019 I took on the additional role of accounts payable manager.
‘I now manage a team of three, and oversee four accounts payable ledgers in Kaplan’s Languages and Pathways business streams. I oversee and sign off all payment runs, ensure ledgers are kept clean, implement quarterly KPIs and resolve any internal or external issues that have escalated, such as payable or supplier issues.
Gaining workplace experience
‘Together, these roles have enabled me to complete almost all my practical experience requirement (PER), but I’ve also worked with my manager to gain experience of areas outside my day job, such as tax. In fact, my PER manager is also my line manager and is an ACCA member, so knows what’s involved in gaining relevant workplace experience. She has given me lots of advice, and as Kaplan is also an ACCA Approved Learning Partner, the PER process is very easy and fast.
‘I aim to achieve ACCA membership this year and, once qualified, I believe my career goals will be clearer as a result of my studies, as these have helped identify my strengths and preferences. Eventually, I’d like to move into a more senior position, ideally involved in management accounting as this is an aspect of accountancy that I currently enjoy.
‘I think that accountancy is a good option for anyone with an interest in finance, and who believes they have the skills needed to succeed in the profession. It involves a lot of hard work and determination to become qualified, but it can lead to a wide variety of career paths.’
This article was first published in Student Accountant in May 2020