My unexpected ACCA journey: Aleks Mainka an associate at Azets
As a little girl, when people asked me who I wanted to be when I grow up, my answer would change every time - I’ve always felt like life was too short to pick one thing.
My concerned parents tried to convince me to become a doctor, but I ended up going to law school. Although I did enjoy it, I changed my degree to art history a year later and eventually moved to the UK from my native Poland as an exchange student at University College London. Soon after, London began to feel like home and so I decided to pursue a master's degree in Art Market and Appraisal. That was the first time I'd dipped my toe into the finance world. Although I loved art, finding a relevant career proved harder than it seemed and so I found myself making use of my first language and working as a video games translator.
For the first time in my life, I felt like I needed more direction and stability. After weeks of weighing my options and scrolling through job adverts, I came across an ACCA graduate scheme at Azets. A few weeks later, I started my accounting journey as an associate in Accounts & Business Advisory at a small office in Sutton just outside London.
In the last two years, I have passed eight out of thirteen exams. The practical experience that the ACCA Qualification offers has given me a solid understanding of the financial world and a set of skills I can use. When I first joined the company, I was terrified - not sure what I'd got myself into and if I'd stay long enough to find out. Today, there are still questions I can’t answer and concepts I struggle to understand, but I’ve earned the rare privilege of enjoying my job.
My everyday work includes a multitude of tasks, from simple bookkeeping, to accounting and audit. When people ask what I do for a living, I say it’s solving client’s puzzles every day. What I like most about my job is the freedom it offers. Since Azets operates flexible working hours, I don’t have to clock in at 9am. I also get to work remotely, so I've worked from my garden, and even a small cottage in the English countryside. However, I still enjoy the days I get to spend working with my team in the office the most.
Although Azets is a large company, it doesn’t feel like one. I have only about fifteen colleagues, which includes Ember, a cable-eating office beagle. There are busy days filled with the clicking sounds of viciously typing hands, but also days when we get to grab lunch together or finish the week with a well-deserved pint in one of the local pubs. Over the last two years, we have shared lots of great memories both in the office and outside work, and I have been lucky to be guided through my journey by an amazing manager who has always been there to answer all my questions (some of them more than once).
Of course, studying is also a big part of my life and sometimes it’s tough to squeeze it in between work and personal life, but with the right strategy, it’s possible to space the exams in a way that leaves time for other things. Before every exam session, my life goes on pause and I eat and breathe accounting, but the rest of the year I spend travelling (my colleagues can’t believe I have any annual leave left), frequenting galleries and museums and going to the theatre and opera. I haven’t forgotten the years I spent studying art history either and I found a creative outlet in writing about the financial side of the art world for an art magazine.
I’m still not sure what the future holds and the thought is not any less scary, but ACCA opens so many different paths, I’m sure one day I’ll be able to find my niche. It feels good to know I’m on the way there.
Go to Azets dedicated recruitment page on ACCA Careers to see the job opportunities live today