From AAT Apprentice to Managing Partner

At the age of 16 Vicky Wainwright had decided that she didn’t want to go to University but wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after school. When her gran spotted a job advert in the local paper for a trainee accountant at a local Bradford firm called Naylor Wintersgill, Vicky thought “it looked a bit boring, but out of respect for my gran, I’ll go along. To my surprise I got the job! And it opened this huge world of opportunity.”

And what a journey it has been…

From AAT Apprentice to Managing Partner

At the age of 16 Vicky Wainwright had decided that she didn’t want to go to University but wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after school. When her gran spotted a job advert in the local paper for a trainee accountant at a local Bradford firm called Naylor Wintersgill, Vicky thought “it looked a bit boring, but out of respect for my gran, I’ll go along. To my surprise I got the job! And it opened this huge world of opportunity.”

And what a journey it has been…

Vicky’s career highlights with Naylor Wintersgill:

  • Started training as an AAT Apprentice at the age of 16
  • Became the firm’s first ICAEW trainee at the age of 19
  • Winner of ICAEW Young Accountant of the Year at the age of 24
  • Appointed Partner at the age of 25
  • Joined ICAEW National Council at the age of 27
  • Youngest and first female President of Bradford Society of Chartered Accountants aged 28
  • Took over the firm as Managing Partner at the age of 37

First Intuition Director, Gareth John, taught Vicky during her ICAEW studies and caught up with her recently to ask her about the keys to her incredible success story.

Vicky, what would you say are the key skills that have taken you to where you are today?

“In accountancy it’s important to have the right technical knowledge and an appropriate professional attitude, meaning that you have to be true to your word and deliver on time. I think that you also need to have strong communication skills. I really enjoy people’s company and have spent a lot of time building my personal network both within and beyond the profession. I would say that the secret of my success is the relationships that I have with a wide range of people; colleagues, clients, strategic partners in other professions. You’ve also got to have strong leadership skills and be prepared to take centre stage when you need to.”

What big lessons have you learned over you career?

“Firstly, if you want something to happen, make it happen! When I finished my AAT qualification, Naylor Wintersgill were not a registered ICAEW training office so in order for me to achieve my goal of becoming a Chartered Accountant, I had to ask the Managing Partner to become a registered office otherwise I would have to leave to go to a different accountancy firm. I was their first ever ICAEW trainee but I had to make it happen! I also found in those early days that Bradford lacked opportunities for me to network so I set up a Young Professionals networking group which became really successful, we used to get over 50 people attending our lunches every month.

Secondly, as your career develops you have to learn to let go of some things. You start to realise that you are not indispensable in every area of the business and you should focus your time on your strengths, in my case advising clients, networking and building relationships. As well as allowing you to do what you are good at, the people you work with will flourish making their own decisions, and often get better results than you would yourself.

Thirdly, you have to appreciate that not everyone is the same. Not everyone has the same drive and ambition so you have to be patient in understanding other people’s motivations. We offer lots of training and support to our team and have structured career progression plans. Having a happy team in the office is really important to me and can be a challenge now that we have 63 employees. There were only 16 people when I joined!”

What do you most like about your job?

“It’s a bit of a cliché but it’s the people I work with. Our key to success is our people and we have a great infrastructure in the business to make sure we work together as effectively as possible.”

Can you give any advice to aspiring young accountants?

  • “Don’t be afraid to put your head above the parapet. A lot of younger people won’t take on extra responsibilities so those that do really stand out. Volunteer to go networking, stay a little late to finish a job, look for extra services that you can offer clients. A little extra effort goes a long way!
  • If you are ever asked to do something and you are not sure about whether you have the ability, just have a go at it! You will learn as you go along.
  • Start networking and building a wider list of personal contacts. I always got out there and it has made a big difference to my career. Being involved in ICAEW committees, local societies, networking groups and even the Lord Mayor of Bradford’s appeal has been a fantastic experience and exposed me to discussions involving lots of very experienced individuals who I have been able to learn from.”

So what’s next for you?

“I am excited about the future of the business and what we can do for our clients and the opportunities we can provide for our team.

I have been working on our five-year strategy which I am going to be sharing with the team in the near future. As the largest independent firm of Chartered Accountants in Bradford city centre, we are going to continue building on solid foundations we have created in our home city. To support our continued growth and reach across the Yorkshire region, we are also just opening a second office in Leeds to complement our wider business strategy.

In the last 5 years we have grown our annual fees by an additional £1m and we are still growing, still delivering and still staying ahead of the curve. I wouldn’t want to do anything else, I’m enjoying it too much!”

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