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Working at the Society: Apprentice to Accountant, Noah

Written by Jack Rayner

29 Nov 2022


Working at the Society

6 min read

A career can take you to a lot of places, and we think it’s important that we support our people to develop in their roles wherever we can. Many staff move between branches and head office, and within their own teams. Some people even choose to take on extra studies and training, which can help them to find out more about themselves and where their career can take them.

We spoke to Noah, our Financial Planning and Analysis Analyst, to get the story behind his journey so far, including a career path starting as a paint sprayer before a big change into the world of financial services starting in 2016. With the small matter of completing the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification along the way….

Noah joined the Society as an Apprentice in 2016 and completed the AAT qualification in 2018. In March 2019 he started his qualifications with Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). In July 2022, after great perseverance and a lot of hard work, Noah successfully achieved the full accounting qualification, became a chartered accountant, and now has the letters ACCA after his name.

Read on to find out more about Noah, his experience of studying alongside his day-to-day role and some invaluable advice for those in similar shoes or seeking to study in the future.

When did you start working at Suffolk Building Society and what was your journey like up until joining?

I joined the Society’s finance team in February 2016. Before I made the move to the financial sector, I was working as a paint sprayer for a bespoke cabinet maker.

What made you decide to study alongside working and what was the experience like?

I initially began studying alongside working whilst I was still at the cabinet makers. I attended an evening course at First intuition, Chelmsford, studying AAT level two.

I made the decision to begin studying as I wanted to improve my career options going forwards. Thankfully I worked alongside many other likeminded individuals who also wanted to progress themselves. So naturally we all pushed one another to pursue our ambitions.

How did Suffolk Building Society support you during your studies?

Suffolk Building Society has been great in supporting my studies. Upon completing the AAT qualification, I was offered the opportunity to progress onto either the qualifications offered by Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). This was a big commitment for myself but also for the Society.

There has always been flexibility surrounding time off for study which has been crucial. The finance team revolves around a month end structure. So, with ACCA exams being held quarterly, on the first week of the month, timing wasn’t ideal. But there was always an understanding for the bigger picture and there was never an issue with me sitting an exam.

Thankfully I have had support from the team when I have needed it most. Some of the exams are extremely challenging, so in the build up to an exam I could see some of my workload being covered by others at times. And being continuously reminded “Don’t burn yourself out.”

What sort of skills do you think you’ve gained as part of your studies?

Other than the financial side of the qualification, which applies to many areas of my role, completing the qualification taught me a lot of life lessons.

-Plan everything. Being Military with your plans will make it a lot easier in the end.
-Persistence is the key.
-Remain dedicated and remember why you’re doing it. In the words of my brother-in-law “think of the end result.”
-Take a chance.

I could continue to list the lessons I learned along the way, but a list of positivity can quickly become overwhelming!

Did you surprise yourself along the way with what you learnt and what you feel you’re able to do now in your career?

The actual learning wasn’t overly surprising at all. It was more of a tick box exercise. It was a case of I need to know this in order to pass the exam so there’s no time to take a step back and be surprised.

However, now I am able to look back and it is surprising. I think I’ve come a long way.

What would be your advice to people who are considering their career path?

Never underestimate yourself and always back yourself when it comes to hard decisions. Very little is learned in a comfort zone.

What are your plans for the future?

Firstly, enjoy a little down time from studies. But then decide on the next challenge. I may continue onto the ACCA Oxford Brookes degree or potentially explore something entirely new.

Like what you hear? We’re always looking to grow the family, so stay tuned to our careers page and social media channels for any current vacancies.

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