Accounting career trajectories - episode 2
In the second of a series of interviews with Rebecca Wood of Fellows Finance with a focus on career development and career choices for accountants, Rebecca speaks to Joshua Ngeresa. Joshua is an ACCA qualified accountant who moved to the UK from Kenya.
Which route did you take to becoming an accountant and why?
I actually completed an information technology degree in Kenya before deciding to become an accountant. My first role after university was an accounts officer, this persuaded me to begin the CPA qualification. I moved to the UK with my wife not long after so didn’t complete that qualification
When you moved to the UK, what did you decide to do?
I knew that to get a job here I needed to do the ACCA qualification. It was an international qualification which is why I chose to do it. When I moved here it was very difficult for immigrants to get a job, no one wanted to employ me because they didn’t know how long I would be here. I tried to get a job in private practices but decided to keep studying instead. In 2013 I completed the ACCA but I couldn’t become a member because I didn’t have the experience.
What steps did you take to complete the experience needed to become an ACCA member?
It was very difficult to get a job because employers were saying I was too qualified for the roles I was applying for. I had to volunteer in different finance departments, practices and charities to get the experience. After two years I had enough volunteering experience to land a private practice role but I still had two years’ PER to complete. I became a member of the ACCA in 2018 so it had taken me 5 years to become a full member.
How has your career progressed so far?
After I qualified, I decided I wanted to see how different industry was. I have made good progress so far.
What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in the future and how do you plan to get there?
Both practice and industry require a different level of technical knowledge, I think it’s harder in practice. I plan to move back into private practice but I would like to open up my own firm. I need to get a practice license which you can do after 5 years’ experience. I only have 3 years’ experience in practice so far.
Would you have done anything differently? If so, what would it be?
I wish I had learned through studying at a big 4 firm instead. The experience is very important and it was difficult for me to gain this. I originally wanted to be an auditor but working in small practices didn’t give me any audit experience so I haven’t been able to do that.
What advice would you have for a 15-year-old interested in becoming an accountant? What do you think the best route to take would be?
I would advise people to keep studying, your first job might determine your next route. I would also suggest joining a big 4 firm straight from school and staying on for 5 years to get the training. Then you can move on to wherever you want to go.