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Accounting Career Trajectories - Episode 5

In the fifth 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 Phil Dawson. Phil is a Director of his own firm Dawson & Co based in Bolton.


Despite appearances, Phil does take his job seriously.

Which route did you take to become an accountant?

I did it the hard way; I left school at 16 and went to college full time for 12 months. At 17 I got a job as the dog’s body and went to night school two nights a week to study for the AAT as well as working full time and working two other part time jobs.

How have the career routes changed since you were a trainee?

People weren’t interested in training, all they wanted was an office junior to do all the menial tasks.

Has the standard of candidates changed over the time?

The standard of candidate hasn’t changed but what I am critical of is the way they are considered to potential employers. I’m not interested in what qualifications they have to a certain extent; what is important to me is the ability to communicate with peers, clients and 3rd parties.

What made you start up your own practice?

Starting my own practice was hard. It was difficult as I was negatively talked about by a well-known firm in Bolton as I was studying at the time of opening up. I was unfortunately made redundant at age 29 so decided to start my own practice, I worked hard in networking doing the job correctly and providing the clients what I thought was better advice. I was working 70-80 hours a week at one point, that certainly defines you when you have to put food on the table.

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 am a big fan of the apprenticeship opportunity as I think it’s a great way to learn right from the bottom. If I could give any advice it would be to study for your GCSEs and then send your CV out to all of the firms. Don’t dwell on exam performance as at the end of the day it’s a piece of paper. Manners and respect and the will to work hard are massively important.

Why not read from episode 1? 

Ep 1, Ep 2, Ep 3, Ep 4 , Ep 6, Ep 7.




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