#SBSCareerReady: Mentoring Scheme with Larking Gowen

Professor Atul K. Shah launches a new mentoring scheme for students with Larking Gowen – showing how the University supports students in becoming career ready.

The employment market is very competitive. Quality jobs require quality people, and the first step onto the ladder can often be very tough for new graduates.

For our pioneering degree in BA(Hons) Accounting and Financial Management, we at University of Suffolk take care in preparing students for the competitive world, and give them a rounded experience – we go on field trips to the City of London and to meet employers, invite visiting speakers, and give students challenging assignments and projects to stimulate all-round development. Throughout the degree, culture, ethics and communication are emphasised alongside technical skills and training.

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(From left to right) Final Year students on the BA(Hons) Accounting and Financial Management programme, Professor Atul Shah, and managers from Larking Gowen. 

With this in mind, this year, we launched a new Mentoring Programme for our graduating students, with the help of Larking Gowen, a top accounting firm in East Anglia. Accounting professionals gave generously of their time and advice to support our students. A special launch meeting was held in April 2018 with final year students, and they were matched to their mentors. There was ample opportunity to chat and discuss career options. The feedback received from the mentors was very positive:

“It’s great to see the University of Suffolk providing this mentoring programme for their students which shows how committed they are to helping their students, not only whilst they are enrolled but even after they have graduated the course.  The students I met were all determined to go and find jobs that would build on the studies they had undertaken at the University and in some cases already trying to get some practical experience via internships.  Our advice was met with much gratitude and appreciation and I hope to be able to guide them and provide as many useful hints and tips that will allow them to find the best employment to put their studies into practice.”

Louise Dean ACCA, Manager, Larking Gowen

When meeting the students, what shone through more than most was their passion for the subject and enthusiasm to get into the world of work.  The modules learned will provide an important level of knowledge into the world of accounting and finance and sets the students in good stead for wherever their careers take them.  The student’s next step will be to research their chosen careers and scope out a pathway to achieving this – we will help wherever possible with guiding them on this journey.

Steven Burgess ACCA, Manager, Larking Gowen

The introduction of a mentoring scheme from the University of Suffolk on the Accounting and Financial Management course shows the passion they have for their students in not only wanting them to succeed at their studies, but also to succeed in their chosen career. From our initial meeting it was clear that the students all had aspirations to apply their knowledge from their studies and build on this as they embark on the next stage of building a successful career. I look forward to being able to help the students with advice and guidance when needed.

Samantha Meadows ACCA, Manager, Larking Gowen

Our students had this to say:

I have really enjoyed to be part of this great meeting. The accounting professionals that we met were very kind in giving us valuable advice and sharing their personal experience. I feel more encouraged now, knowing that I can always be supported of people who have already walked this path.

Kameliya Yankov – Final year student

Another great and helpful event, which is going to help the students – myself included – through their professional journey.

Teodor Georgiev – Final year student

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My Data or Data Mining?

By Associate Professor Will Thomas, Suffolk Business School 

We’ve all experienced the wonders of data-driven marketing campaigns. Search for a new mobile phone on one site and you will see a stream of targeted advertisements promoting special offers and the latest handsets as you continue to browse. These can be useful – I often get interrupted in the middle of searching and find an advert reminds me what I was doing earlier, or I see a good offer on a product I know that I want to buy. Equally, they can be annoying – continuing to appear even after you’ve made your purchase or starting to feel like you are being pestered or hounded into a purchasing decision.

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Recently though, we’ve heard about other uses of our online data – how companies might use it to profile us, to make predictions about how we might act, not just in terms of which trainers we might buy, but also about how we intend to vote or what issues are most important to us. Stories such as those about Cambridge Analytica and Facebook or about the use of data by the Gold Coast council highlight the importance of the personal information we keep online. In a world where our data is increasingly ‘out there’ and searchable many questions are raised about how companies should behave.

For marketing professionals, these questions are an ever-present part of their day-to-day practice. As they act to advise clients on the creation of marketing campaigns these questions about the appropriate use of data come up regularly. Those starting a career in marketing need more and more knowledge about where data comes from and the ways in which data can be used in creating personalised content. This is one of the reasons that the new BA (Hons) Marketing course at the University of Suffolk contains modules that will develop skills in data manipulation and the creation of online content as well as those that discuss marketing theory and practice – and we also discuss Business Ethics! We understand that the marketing world isn’t about understanding ‘digital’ but it’s about understanding data – and this course will ensure that our graduates are ready for a career that will be dominated by data.

#SBSStudents: Finance for all? An insight into the world of money, power, and poverty

By Anna Hinds, BA Accounting and Financial Management Student

Last week was a real eye-opener into the true world of finance for both the first and second-year students at the University of Suffolk. The true identity of finance was revealed in the form of two field trips for the second-year students, one of which we were accompanied by the enthusiastic first-years, who rekindled our excitement for the subject that we are studying.

The week started off with the second-year students paying a visit to the Ipswich Citizen’s Advice Bureau, a UK charity specialising in advice and support for people in all kinds of difficulty, from debt to bills to unemployment and benefit support. A detailed and informative workshop was delivered to us by Nelleke, who quite clearly explained to us the role of the CAB; their aims as a business; and what they help their clients to achieve. It was also made explicitly clear that they are non-judgemental and confidential, which is of particular importance to their clients, so that they feel confident and have no shame in asking for help when it is needed. The CAB is a free advice service (a charity), which is indirectly funded by taxpayers to provide a free service to the user. The two main aims of the organisation are to: give help to people advice for any problems that they face; and to seek change and influence decision makers. In a modern society where we are continually fighting for equality, should a charity organisation have to beg those in government etc. to change the laws to make things fairer for those who are at the bottom of the social hierarchy? I wonder.

PHOTOS: Left to right: students at a CAB workshop; students at the ICAEW listening to Martin’s presentation; on the City of London tour, taking in the scenery and architecture.

We were also given a task on debt to complete, which highlighted serious consequences to us that we were unaware of – including the fact that a £1,000 fine is incurred for not paying a TV licence. Leaflets and budgeting programmes were also received which is used for clients to help maintain their money; this was particularly useful for us as well.

The second field trip, despite starting out on a dull, cold, and wet journey into Liverpool Street Station, was soon turned around with the awe-inspiring buildings and architecture of the City of London as we embarked on our tour of the square mile, giving us a brief, but informative overview of the City’s history and quirky facts too. The guide was the talented historian Marilyn Greene, who used to work for the Victoria & Albert Museum and is a professional historian. The huge sky scrapers and modern yet historic feel of the city oozed out the feelings of wealth, power, and knowledge, making us students feel somewhat medicore in comparison. Our trip to the City was further extended by a visit to the ICAEW, where they kindly provided us with lunch and refreshments, before delivering presentations to us, one of which by Dominic Sheehy explained what it entails to embark on our journey to becoming a fully-fledged ICAEW Chartered Accountant. This was followed by another presentation by Martin Martinoff, which even though it may have been less formal, definitely left food for thought, and much room for discussion and debate about the culture and ethics of modern day finance, including: what is our goal? Why do we want to be accountants? Is there room for accountants in the future?

The day ended with a brief but relaxing meditation session with Professor Atul Shah, the organiser of the whole experience, which enabled us to reflect on our journeys in life, ranging from our school memories, up to the present day. This exercise helped us to think about our futures after graduation, and what it is that we are striving to aim for.
Overall these two field trips have given us invaluable experiences, and have undoubtedly taught us a lot. On a personal level, it has struck a huge reality check for me; the stark contrast between organisations such as the CAB and big central banks in the City, where it is extremely clear that more than ever before, the contrast and gap between the rich and the poor in this country is huge – and what can we do about it? Will we ever see the time when a bank opens its doors to teach the financially illiterate how to understand mortgages, APR rates, and even the basics of finance, or will we have to keep relying on small charity organisations such as the CAB to pick up the pieces that these larger organisations have created and dumped onto society?

For more information on our Accounting and Finance degrees, please see our website.