Achieving career and business goals – with or without a degree

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In the latest UK200Group blog post, Trevor Cook, Director, Baines Jewitt Limited discusses the different routes available to those who want to pursue a career in accountancy.

Hilary Bevan and Ashleigh Smith, Baines Jewitt
We’re often asked by those looking to start a career in accountancy whether they should go straight into the world of work, or go to university first. There are lots of points to consider and it comes down to personal choice.

Employees at our North East chartered accountancy firm are proof that you can build a successful career in the profession, with or without a degree. This can be illustrated by comparing the career paths of our VAT director, Hilary Bevan, with that of chartered accountant, Ashleigh Smith.

Ashleigh and Hilary both have professional roles within Baines Jewitt, but each chose a different route to achieve their specialist status.

Ashleigh joined Baines Jewitt in 2013, having gained a first class degree in Accountancy through the University of Northumbria. Earlier this year Ashleigh obtained chartered status from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), which involved three years of additional study alongside her full time job.

Ashleigh is also studying for accreditation from the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), the leading professional body in the UK for advisers dealing with all aspects of taxation. This involves a year of study in addition to her full time work.

As testament to her hard work and dedication since joining Baines Jewitt, Ashleigh was awarded the prestigious ‘Charles Urie Peat Prize’ in 2016 and again in 2017. The award - named after former Darlington MP Charles Urie Peat - recognises success in the Institute of Chartered Accountants qualifying exams.

Our VAT Director Hilary took a more vocational route into the profession and has also enjoyed career success. Having joined Baines Jewitt in 1998 as a school leaver, Hilary is proof that a degree is not a necessity to build a successful career in accountancy.

Having excelled at her professional training, Hilary is one of the few people in the UK who hold professional qualifications as an Accountant and a VAT Specialist. As well as becoming a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, a Chartered Tax Adviser and an Associate of the Institute of Indirect Taxation, Hilary has worked her way up within Baines Jewitt. She was appointed Director of VAT in June 2015.

Hilary’s role involves supporting businesses of all sizes and sectors with everything from VAT registrations and tax queries, to advice on land and property transactions.

As well as her work for Baines Jewitt, Hilary is Treasurer of the VAT Practitioners’ Group and a member of its North of England Chapter. Membership of the group includes specialists from the VAT profession, leading law firms, major retailers, industry and commerce, who meet regularly to share VAT knowledge.

Hilary started at Baines Jewitt when she was 18, straight after her A Levels and it has been great to see her progress and succeed. We like to think that Baines Jewitt is a forward-thinking company, which rewards hard work, dedication and promotes from within.
Everyone here is encouraged to fulfil their potential. In Hilary’s case, this involves continually learning and improving knowledge to keep on top of new legislation, changes in VAT policy and its interpretation.

And we know from first-hand experience, and the clients we work with, that creating a supportive training and development culture brings positive results for business too.

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