#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.

#SBSStudents: Charlotte on how her degree has helped build confidence

Graduation 2017 - Prize Giving (Charlotte Bale)
Charlotte with course leader Prof. Atul Shah. Photo (C) Suffolk Business School.

Charlotte graduated with a 1st Class BA(Hons) Business Management and Finance degree from the Suffolk Business School.

Job title, and organisation: Project Co-ordinator at Adnams plc

What will you be doing in the role?
The main responsibility of my role is to ensure that the project is running smoothly – this includes tracking the budget, managing the project calendar and Kanban board, and maintaining all project documentation. I am also responsible for all project communications.

How has your degree prepared you for the role? 
My BA(Hons) Business Management and Finance degree gave me the financial knowledge I need for my day-to-day tasks, as well as giving me the confidence to involve myself in discussions and question current ideas and processes. Communication is an incredibly important part of my role, I did not realise at the time but writing my assignments really strengthened these skills. Moreover, before university, I would get so nervous giving presentations but now I love them!

What was your favourite experience of your course?
I really enjoyed all of my time at the University of Suffolk, and I have some fantastic memories. One of my favourite experiences was working on my dissertation. My supervisor was incredibly helpful and put me in contact with several local businesswomen. I was able to meet and interview some really inspiring women and attended a Suffolk Business Women event at Seckford Hall. It was an incredible experience I will never forget.

Do you have any advice for current and prospective students?
As cliché as it sounds, hard work pays off.
But that doesn’t mean you have to hide away in books for the next three years. Stash up on snacks and work with your friends in the library – working together and bouncing ideas off each other really helps.
Go and see your lecturers if you’re struggling, they want you to do well too – they’re on the same team as you! They are also usually very passionate about their subject (once you get them talking, it’s hard to get them to stop) and they will make sure you’re on the right track.
And lastly, there will be times when it seems hard but getting your degree is such an amazing achievement – you will not regret it!