#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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#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.

Secrets of Jain Business Success Revealed

By Dr Atul Shah, Course Leader in Accounting and Financial Management at Suffolk Business School.

One of the world’s most successful business and finance cultures, the Jains, revealed their ethics and culture in a new research study completed by Dr. Atul Keshavji Shah and Dr. Aidan Rankin, based on thirty years of community work, engagement and dialogue. Titled ‘Jainism and Ethical Finance – A Timeless Business Model’, this 176 page book published by Routledge was launched globally at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich at a special event on Tuesday 25th April 2017. Speakers at the launch included Dr. Bharat Shah, the CEO of Sigma Pharmaceuticals, whose business history is featured in the book, and Jain Nuns Samani Pratibhapragya and Samani Unnatapragya from Jain Vishwa Bharti.

Book display

The book elaborates on the Jain theory of business, showing that the focus is on good and sincere efforts and service, with conduct which is not selfish or greedy and founded on building good long-term relationships with customers and suppliers. In his speech, Dr. Atul Shah, who has a PhD from the London School of Economics and is a Senior Lecturer at Suffolk Business School, explained how modern accounting and finance education is divorced from faith and culture, and as  a result is the cause of untold damage and inequality in the world. Given the huge urgency of sustainable business, the world needs to learn from ancient wisdom traditions who have a multi-generational track record of success. The Jain Nuns explained how Acharya Tulsi and Acharya Mahapragya constantly emphasised ‘anuvrat’ the need for clear vows and discipline in business conduct. Dr. Hedley Swain, Director of the Arts Council, chaired the event and explained how critical it was that Britain learnt from diverse cultures, and allowed them to speak in their own voice. Dr Bharat Shah explained how Sigma’s business growth was organic, and respect for customers and suppliers is critical to their culture. Key strategic decisions were taken after a dialogue with the inner soul, which is different from rational calculation and logical analysis.

The book has already received outstanding testimonials from academics from all over the world including Professor Prem Sikka, Professor Dan Ostas, Professor Janette Rutterford and Professor Al Bhimani of the London School of Economics. Mr Dhiraj Shah, General Secretary of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh explained that this book makes a profound contribution to the western crises in business ethics, opening a new dawn of research drawing from the vast ocean of knowledge that is India. Prof David Collins, Head of Suffolk Business School explained, ‘Dr Shah’s account of finance and ethics is both, unique and interesting because it builds upon an appreciation of the knowledge and experience of the Jain community. The book, therefore, offers a fascinating account of the Jains and builds upon this in-depth appreciation to demonstrate the ways in which this practical philosophy secures an holistic appreciation of the ecology of business and finance’.

The book is available as hardback or an e-book from Routledge or Amazon.