Tell us about yourself and your Apprenticeship
I am Mahmood Ally and I am currently on a 4.5 year Accounting and Taxation degree apprenticeship with EY, where I am currently working in the Assurance service line. Assurance is where we would work with large household companies and the government to help them publish accurate financial accounts, for the purpose of ensuring their information is accurate and reliable which protects its reputation and reflects their performance. This involves getting to really understanding the client, learning how their business works and testing and analysing the data that is going into the financial statements.
What is the best thing about your Apprenticeship and what do you not enjoy?
The best thing about my apprenticeship is the people I work with and the people I get exposed to. Working in a ‘big four’ firm allows me to meet a variety of people where I get exposure to different opportunities which helps improve not only my career but my personal development.
In addition, I enjoy the fact I get paid to learn about knowledge that I am genuinely interested in rather than being forced to learn content that I am not interested in. This provides me with extra motivation when studying as I am enjoying what I am doing!
I guess what I don’t enjoy is learning how to adapt to working and studying. It is interesting keeping up the balance between delivering high quality pieces of work but also ensuring you are revising and passing your exams, which has taught me how to become more time efficient and organised. I definitely feel like working and studying has improved my organisation skill.
Did you always want to go into an Apprenticeship and why accounting?
Surprisingly I had my eyes set out for doing an apprenticeship since Year 11! This was because I attended a careers fair with my parents where I learnt I could earn a degree without the debt through an apprenticeship scheme. There was a whole host of attractive and reputable companies which offered these schemes such as Range Rover, Microsoft and Barclays which made me realise apprenticeships can put your foot in the door early and set you up for your future!
However, I never knew I would fall into accountancy as I had my eyes firmly set on the construction industry as I thought I wanted to be a quantity surveyor/ engineer growing up. This changed after gaining work experience at EY in Year 12, where I shifted my goals towards a business-related role where I have not looked back since!
How do I know if the Apprenticeship pathway is for me?
An apprenticeship pathway is not for everyone just like how marmite is not for everyone. The best way for you to know if the apprenticeship pathway is for you is to really understand who you are and what do you enjoy the most. Really understanding who you are and what you enjoy allows you to explore different routes to the career/future you would like to pursue which gives you the extra drive when applying for the apprenticeship pathway. Some people are motivated by the financial package whilst some people are motivated by the opportunity to travel the world.
For me it was starting my career early and becoming recognised as one of the best in my field as I would love to have the future where I am able to travel the world whilst working in an environment where I have to build relationships with people as I very much enjoy working with people.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
In 5 Years time, I would have loved to have passed all of my exams first time over the 4.5 year period in which I will then become recognised as a chartered accountant! This would be a fantastic achievement as my accreditation would internationally recognise me as one of the best in the field. It will allow me to work anywhere internationally as I have the relevant knowledge and experience to work in a business or finance related role, or who even knows maybe start up my own business with my knowledge in accounting and taxation!.
I can definitely see myself staying on at my current employer as the career progression is fantastic at the ‘Big Four’ and the opportunities are endless.
Any Advice for students looking to apply for an Apprenticeship
Never ever and don’t you ever give up when applying for an apprenticeship. I had multiple setbacks (around 20 to be fair), where I would fall short at the final hurdle or I would not pass their aptitude test. Looking back, I realised that I grew stronger and I have learnt so much through the rejections as at the end of the day I realised these two important themes. “What makes you different and genuinely why you”. It is an extremely competitive process but the way to make yourself stand out is to be yourself.
(And remember if I can do it, you can do it as well and you will do it better than myself! )
Written by Mahmood Ally, Accounting & Taxation Degree Apprentice at EY, Member of Pathway CTM Student Advisory Board