Life as an ACCA Member – Abi’s story

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Abi Mckenzie, Senior in the Accounts & Business Advisory team based in Aberdeen, tells her accountancy career journey and why she chose to study the ACCA qualification.

Why did you choose accounting?
During my first job I really enjoyed the work I was exposed to. I was encouraged by managers to pursue a professional qualification and was recommended ACCA as they had the Foundation in Accountancy course which meant I would cover the basics of accounting before moving on to the more technical aspects.

As I worked and studied more, I found I enjoyed challenging myself with what I had learnt by applying it to my role and wanted to continue challenging myself.

Give a brief background on your career journey so far
I left Academy at 16 to undertake a Business and Administration apprenticeship in an international oil and gas firm in Aberdeen. Despite the nature of my apprenticeship qualification, I was placed in the internal Finance team. As part of this team, I learnt the basics of accounting surrounded by qualified accountants who were there to answer any questions I had. I also assisted with External Audits and learnt how to use different accounting software. The managers within the finance team encouraged me to pursue ACCA’s Foundations in Accountancy course.

Whilst studying for my first set of exams, I decided I wanted to experience accounting in Practice to expand my knowledge and assist with understanding the material that was covered in the exams. I moved to Johnston Carmichael in 2018 and started as a Business Advisory assistant, working my way up to Business Advisory Supervisor in June 2021. I worked on a variety of clients, within various industries and of various sizes during my time at Johnston Carmichael. From management reporting, and preparation of year end accounts and tax computations. During this time, I finished the ACCA Foundations in Accountancy Course and sat all Applied Skills exams and 3 of my Strategic Professional exams.

In January 2022 I made the move the Azets, realising what an exciting opportunity there was to expand my knowledge further, gain my own client list and work on developing office-wide standard procedures for the preparation of accounts. During my time at Azets, I’ve sat and passed my last ACCA exam, becoming fully qualified and an ACCA member. I’ve used the knowledge gained in my previous roles to support a varied client list across many industries and have been able to take on several rural clients, which I really enjoy being from an agricultural background.

How has the ACCA qualification supported and benefitted your career to date?
The ACCA qualification has allowed me to push myself beyond what I thought I was capable of. It’s allowed me to progress my career extremely quickly, to have my own profile of over 100 clients to manage just 4 years after starting the ACCA qualification.

I feel that I have gained the knowledge required to support these clients from studying and I have the opportunity to constantly learn from managers, directors and Partners at Azets.

What advice would you give to school leavers when evaluating different career pathways?
My advice to school leavers would be to find a career that they will enjoy showing up to, that plays to their own strengths and personal attributes. I enjoy my role so much because of its social nature and collaboration with juniors, managers, partners, and the clients themselves. I also enjoy supporting Associates and Assistants with sitting and passing their exams and furthering their careers, much like my previous supervisors and managers have done for me.

I would also advise them to find a career that suits their own career goals. I have a career 5-year plan that is shared with my manager that I’m working towards. It helps immensely having senior management aware of your career aspirations.

Finally, I would advise not to say “no” to any opportunities that come their way. 16-year-old me did not think I would end up a qualified accountant with 7 years of both industry and practice experience when we had applied for an Administration Apprenticeship, but I couldn’t be happier with how my career has turned out.

What achievement are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of becoming an ACCA qualified Accountant. In total I sat 17 exams over 4 and a half years. The exams were extremely tough and meant that there wasn’t much time for anything other that working and studying, but it has all paid off in the end.

Secondly, I’m proud of being able to share my story at several career events for School Leavers and inspire students to follow their own path. I enjoy public speaking and being able to connect with the students and give them an insight as to what to expect when entering the working world.



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