Cui is now Head of Finance for a card manufacturer, who operate in the finance and retail sectors. We caught up with her to talk about her journey through her accountancy studies with First Intuition Chelmsford and to find out what she’s up to now.
So, Cui, how did you get started in accountancy?
I started off working as an account’s junior in 2003 and by 2006, after I’d finished my AAT qualification, had been promoted to accounts supervisor. I then decided to take on ACCA and joined First Intuition Chelmsford in 2011, as one of their first-ever students.
But why accountancy and what inspired you to keep going with your studies?
I’ve always loved finance but looking back, I don’t think I really believed I could achieve everything I have to date. After I finished my AAT, I didn’t really have the courage to keep studying and didn’t think I could go any further in my finance studies. Particularly bearing in mind, that English is not my first language. But then I heard people at work talking about an audit manager who’d worked her way up from being an assistant to a manager. This really inspired me, so I took the plunge and signed up to start my ACCA studies in 2011.
How did you find your studies at First Intuition and were there any highlights for you?
I was lucky enough to be one of the first students to study with F.I Chelmsford. In some classes, there were lots of us and in others, it was just me. I did wonder whether I’d get a really detailed lesson, just for me or if they’d send me to the Cambridge centre instead to save on cost. What I found was that whether they were just teaching me or a whole class, the tutors were all so professional, really patient and had a real passion for teaching. I genuinely enjoyed studying at First Intuition with David, Kelley, Gareth and lots of other tutors. I keep in touch with some of them on LinkedIn and other social media channels.
Was there anything you found particularly hard or any challenges you had to overcome?
My strength has always been on calculation or rule-based subjects and less on analysis and evaluation. I passed all my F papers, first-time round, with the equivalent of a 2:1 across all subjects. P2 and P6 were also first-time passes for me, with good marks. When it came to P3, I had to resit it twice and P5 became my Achilles heel, as I had to sit it four times. I remember being tempted to give up after failing P5 for the third time. Nobody could understand how I could fail it this many times and it nearly destroyed my confidence. However, my family and friends supported me and showed lots of love and encouragement.
David, my tutor at First Intuition Chelmsford, has known me since day one and explained how I was getting lost in P5 and not answering the questions correctly. His advice was to take a step back, focus on the full picture and understand what the examiner is asking; then answer the question. I thought David would be disappointed in me but he showed me that I had his full support and truly believed I could pass P5. Finally, on my fourth attempt, I was delighted to pass.
Have you got any advice for anyone thinking of starting accountancy studies?
Accountancy and Finance is a core division in any business. It provides a supporting function to all major elements of industry. Becoming a good Accountant provides tremendous, intangible value to any company which is a really sought-after and valued quality. It’s a secure position to have in life but the journey requires consistent determination, resilience. You need to be a confident, independent person. I was fortunate to study with First Intuition Chelmsford, as I had so many fabulous tutors. The knowledge I gained was so valuable and much of it I still use on a daily basis. Many of the things I learned from my tutors, such as Kelly’s poetry explaining how to recognise an asset, I still remember now.
So, what does the future have in store for you?
For me, there’s now no end to learning. I’m still passionate about learning in my current role, as Head of Finance. Getting your qualifications opens the door for you. To be successful on your journey, you need an open mind and to grow as an individual. I believe you can do this as an Accountant. My aim is to continue working hard and one day to become a CFO.
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