A career in Finance doesn’t have to begin with 5 A*’s

A career in Finance doesn’t have to begin with 5 A*’s

Let me introduce you to Oliver. A professionally qualified Financial Controller working in Staffordshire. He is our latest Guest Writer on the H2 Blog. In this post Oliver shares his experience of leaving School without GCSE’s grades A-C. And how in doing so hasn’t hindered his career.


Over to you Oliver…


I never really enjoyed school. I just knew I enjoyed tasks that involved numbers. I left school without any A – C grade GCSE’s! Following school I began a Youth Trainee Scheme (YTS) at a local pottery firm, this experience was invaluable and I learnt that hard work can pay off as I quickly progressed to experience many departments within a large finance department. Over the following 8 years I gained experience in a variety of roles and learnt a range of finance functions, from Credit Vetting, Credit Control and Management Accounts.


Hard work pays dividends


I really feel like I progressed well at the start because of my hard work, dedication and uncompromising approach to ethics which meant I’ve always had the trust and backing from my superiors, the fact that I didn’t have the higher graded GCSE’s really wasn’t an issue.  In fact, my hard working approach gave them the confidence that I was capable of much more and with that came financial support towards the Association of Accounting Technicians qualification (AAT).

As soon as I felt I had reached my ceiling of progression given my qualifications, I decided to undertake the Chartered Institute of management Accountants (CIMA qualification). CIMA really isn’t easy – you and your family have to be prepared for the mental capacity and personal time required to dedicate yourself to the courses and exams but once completed it can really help to accelerate your career. I have never looked back.


Having CIMA on your CV instantly opens doors!


Since qualifying I have held Financial Controller/Manager positions in some highly regarded businesses in the local area. Widened my skill set to include a variety of additional duties such as being responsible for IT and Human Resources including GDPR implementation, duties which are becoming more expected in senior finance roles. I’ve always seen these as a positive as they’re an opportunity to grow personally whether that be to learn new skills or techniques or as a chance to demonstrate that there’s more to me than just a number.

It’s important to remember, finance is a small world and making a good impression and keeping positive professional relationships will benefit your career further down the line. I certainly found this to be the case with one role I left.  The Company was being sold and so I took this as a great opportunity to look elsewhere for employment.  The acquiring company already had an Accountant who happened to be my very first manager who employed me as a YTS some 15 years previously!


And lastly…

To anyone considering a career in finance I would say don’t be put off if you didn’t leave school with the best qualifications. Hard work and the right attitude can get you a long way and provide invaluable experience. That said, if you want to reach the top of the profession I would recommend the completion of an Accounting Qualification whether that be ACA, ACCA or CIMA.


My tips for progressing your finance career:

  • Get a good understanding of the business and how all the functions operate and interact with each other
  • Work hard and be committed – the right attitude goes much further than you think!
  • Always approach enforced change as an opportunity (structural or organisational)
  • Build and maintain the right bridges, Finance is a very small world and you never know who you will meet again!
  • Study towards a professional finance qualification


If you are thinking of making a change or looking to progress your career in finance then Say Hello to our dedicated finance recruiter Kerri-Ann Hargreaves today.