Matthew Sensier, a Certified Chartered Accountant, graduated from BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance and has established a successful career at GM Financial, the financial services arm of General Motors.
“In my final weeks of university, I sent my CV to a local job agency. I took my last exam in university on a Thursday, and started at GM Financial the following Monday. I got a six-week contract and I’m still here, nearly four years later! I’m now the Accounting Supervisor for UK and Sweden.
“I’ve had lots of opportunities within this company. I’ve had four roles in the past year, including a promotion when my secondment to a higher level was made permanent. I then also become a manager of a team, which is a whole new experience.
“My degree has helped massively, especially what we learned about financial reporting – it gives you that basic understanding you need. It was clear to see what I learned from the course in my job. Laws and ethics was another useful module because you learn how to conduct yourself professionally, which is important.”
Professional recognition and exemptions
“The accountancy professional body exemptions were a really big part of me choosing the course – it’s huge. I couldn’t find a degree with a higher number of exemptions anywhere else. When you’re in full-time work, you don’t want extra work on top of that to gain qualification, so it’s good to have them already under your belt. Plus you know you’re much further ahead when you’re applying for jobs. Employers know they can get a fully qualified chartered accountant after just five professional exams.
Work placement opportunities
“I would really recommend doing a placement. For me, the placement is an extension of the degree. Mine was perfect and lasted 15 months. I know 100% that I wouldn’t have this job without the placement on my CV. I didn’t have an initial interview at GM Financial. My CV spoke for itself and they needed someone who had used certain systems before. The agency put me forward and I was asked to start as soon as possible. It’s the same for my friends and people I know from the course – all those who did placements are doing really well and have done further study for their exams. It’s also a good test of whether you want to be an accountant or not.
“When I knew I would apply for a placement, I went to a practice interview session at the University. They also checked my CV and helped me put it together – getting it reviewed is a good thing to do. Before coming to university I had just worked for Next, so that was all the experience I had on there.
“The work I started doing at GM Financial was exactly the same as the work I did on my placement as part of my course. I worked on internal expenses as part of the UK accounting team. By administering daily payments I could start seeing what I’d learned in university come to life. I’ve then gone on to complete the statutory accounts for the company and deliver month end result presentations to senior management.
“Before the placement, I was on course for a middle 2:2, but after it I was 0.5% off getting a first. You also get into a professional mind-set. You learn that you’re not just at university because your mates are or because you’re good at maths, you’re training for a profession and your career.”