Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

Sara Kearney: Trainee Accountant, the Royal British Legion

Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

Sara Kearney: Trainee Accountant, the Royal British Legion

Article excerpt

Sara Kearney was the first CIMA graduate trainee to be employed by the Legion. She tells Camilla Berens how she has benefited from its recent elevation to CIMA Training Quality Partner status.

I understand that you played quite a big role in securing Quality Partner accreditation for the Legion.

By chance, I got talking to a CIMA representative during a training event. When I spoke to my manager afterwards, we realised that we could meet or even exceed the Quality Partner requirements with a bit more effort.

So what does the enhanced training programme offer?

Trainees can study using the method that's most suited to them. All study materials and revision courses are paid for. You are given 1.75 days' study leave for each paper, plus time off for the exam itself. Each trainee now has a supervisor and a personal development plan. This provides consistency, particularly on soft skills development over the three-year scheme.

The plan can include more practical experience. For example, I've helped to deliver volunteer training courses and I've developed and presented a budgeting course for staff. There's also the chance to get involved in major Legion events.

Helping to introduce the new scheme must have been a challenging developmental experience for you in itself.

Communicating the idea was harder than we had imagined. We didn't do enough early on to tell people about the scheme's aims. This led to a view that trainees were being given special treatment. But one of our biggest lessons has been that everyone must be ready to accommodate training. It can be confusing when trainees are being moved around so much. In a small department it can be a real upheaval to lose someone you've spent a year training. Because CIMA requires 18 months' management accounting experience, I asked if I could stay in that department for an extra six months. …

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