Don’t feel the only route to a career in accounting is via the Big 4

Roisin is a 2012 Business Studies graduate and currently works as an Upper Manager in Finance Strategy & Implementation at the Royal Bank of Scotland.  Since joining RBS on their graduate scheme she has held a variety of roles and credits getting valuable internship experience as pivotal in choosing her career.  Read her story here .

What was your degree?

  • A (hons) Business Studies – 1st Class (2008-2012)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) (2012-2015)

What is your current role?

Upper Manager – Finance Strategy & Implementation at Royal Bank of Scotland

Talk us through your Career History…

  • KPMG Audit Internship (2009)
  • PwC Audit/Tax/Advisory Internship (2011)
  • RBS Finance Internship (2011)
  • RBS Finance Graduate Scheme (2012-2015)
  • RBS – Personal & Business Banking – Lower Commercial Manager, Mortgages (2015-2016)
  • RBS – Group Finance – Finance Strategy & Implementation Upper Manager (2016 – Present)

How do you feel you have used your degree skills and knowledge in your career?

I made use of many of my degree courses in my further studies with ICAS. This provided a great base for me to build on in my professional training. Courses such as financial statement analysis, advanced financial accounting and auditing were particularly helpful.

Which experience have you found most useful in your career?

The group work really helped me to prepare for the different working styles and personalities in the workplace.

I found the strategic management course in particular was helpful when presenting and making real business decisions, it taught me how to take a pragmatic and standard approach to problem solving.

A 3rd year Management Accounting course taught me the importance of abstract thinking and problem solving. We were tasked with placing a value (as a group) on the Exxon Valdez oil disaster. The task became much more about validating why we chose a particular course of action rather than what answer we provided,

I also still use the CV examples and tips I received at University.

How have you made decisions regarding your career?

I made the decision to train in Industry rather than in practice as I was very interested in the RBS Group and its journey back to safety and soundness following the financial crisis. I applied to an Internship within RBS to see how it compared to my experiences in Audit internships in PwC and KPMG.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at RBS and decided that training in industry was the right decision for me. I don’t regret this decision to this date and feel that I have positively grown in breadth and depth constantly throughout my time at RBS. Completion of the RBS Finance Graduate scheme allowed me to gain my professional qualification whilst rotating around 6 different Finance business areas in both London and Edinburgh. This experience really set me up for success in the future.

What advice would you give to students entering your field of work?

Persevere with ongoing studies, professional exams can feel near impossible at times when juggling studying with demanding working hours – but it’s all worth it in the end.

Do your best to secure work experience as early as possible via insight weeks and internships.

Don’t feel the only route to the profession is via Big 4 accounting firms – take time to research what it’s like to train in the industry vs. practice.

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