“My career developed rapidly! I started AAT as an Accounts Junior. Within the space of two and a half years I progressed to a General Accounts Clerk and then an Assistant Management Accountant.”
After completing his accountancy apprenticeship, Ben was headhunted by a rival brand, which was then acquired by a company called Pendragon two-years later.
“I remained with Pendragon until I was made redundant at the start of the financial crisis in 2008 when my branch was closed. Despite offers to relocate I chose to find a role in a new industry,” Ben says. “I was looking for nine months prior to obtaining a two-week temporary assignment at Plymouth Argyle FC. Nine years on, I still look after their accounts, alongside other group companies.”
As Ben’s career progressed, he decided to become chartered with CIMA. “As I worked within industry, I thought CIMA was the most viable option for me. My father also studied CIMA” he notes. “As the general accountancy sector changes with the advent of automation and artificial intelligence (AI), I expect the skills instilled by the CIMA qualification will increase in demand from the accounting sector as a whole.”
Ben completed the operational level of CIMA in 2005, although it was not without its challenges. “Due to a series of issues, including being made redundant and my study provider ceasing in my local area, I ended up taking a ten year break from my studies after completing the operational level.”
He restarted his studies in 2015. “I ended up completing the management and strategic levels in 13 months, whilst helping my wife look after our newborn and 8-year old daughter,” he notes.
CIMA has an active branch network for members and students which Ben finds useful. “It gives me the opportunity to get involved with the institute on varying levels from volunteering in the branch network as I do currently, right through to assessing membership applications should I wish to apply for this responsibility,” he notes.
To assist with study, Ben also created a WhatsApp study group which initially had 56 members. “We helped each other through the course and the majority completed the strategic level within five months,” he notes. “Since qualifying I have kept the group running, focusing on helping Strategic Case Study students prepare for the final exam.”
Ben has recently become a CIMA Member in Practice (MIP) and has started his own management accounting focused business. As for the future, he hopes to eventually become a Finance Director/CFO. “It’s the next logical step for me. I enjoy the strategic element of my current role and this is something I hope to expand on in future years,” he says.