What did you do before joining the training scheme?
I studied History at undergraduate level, and unfortunately the expected epiphany of what I wanted to do in life hadn’t appeared by the end of that, so I did a Masters in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine in the hope that I’d have established what I wanted to do by the end of the year. Sadly, there were no epiphanies after that either.
What attracted you to the scheme?
I’d been lucky enough to be able to study abroad in the United States for six months during my undergraduate degree, which had given me an appreciation of the differences between different higher education establishments. I was interested in seeing how these differences manifested themselves behind the scenes, and the Graduate Finance Training Scheme at Imperial offered the opportunity to do this, whilst also granting the opportunity to pursue a fully funded and globally recognised qualification in CIMA (Certified Institute of Management Accountants). I’m also very interested in science and technology, so being surrounded by academics at the pinnacle of their fields in these areas was also quite appealing!
What has been the highlight of your time on the scheme?
My first placement as a Finance Officer for the Department of Mechanical Engineering has been interesting in that it offers a real insight into the processes that keep key activities such as research and teaching going in a university. It has been especially satisfying helping academics prepare costings for their proposed projects, as it gives you the responsibility of helping realise their research goals, and thus Imperial’s aims of producing world-class research and education. It’s also a great chance to get an insight into their research proposals, which can be fascinating.
What has been the biggest challenge?
I have no accounting background, so I was somewhat concerned that I would end up swimming in new terminology and drowning in spreadsheets, but it hasn’t been as bad as I anticipated, and people have been very keen to help me out with any problems. The biggest challenge has probably been the need to ensure I can be flexible with a variety of tasks and perform them efficiently – I’ve found it’s not much use to a student who needs to rush off to another lecture if you have to go and look up how to find the information they need.