Becky’s story

July 2020

PQ magazine chats to recently qualified ACCA Becky Hennessey
about her journey, and asks if she has any tips for fellow travellers.

Becky Hennessey’s LinkedIn profile says it all. She is “an adaptable, resourceful and enthusiastic accountant” who is now both AAT (fellow member) and just recently ACCA qualified.

We can confirm she is all those things. PQ magazine first came across her when she created the UK ACCA Distance Learning Students Group on Facebook in September

The group even has a PQ magazine trophy to its name; it picked up the Editor’s award in 2019. But, let’s let her tell her story…

Hello, I am an ACCA member who has just qualified after five years of studying ACCA. To tell you the truth, it has been a journey of ups and downs throughout. If you are a student just starting out, on your ACCA journey it is difficult, but I can assure you it is totally worth the time and effort at the end.

The hard part of the ACCA journey is to open the book!

I attended university but did not finish my course for various reasons. After feeling a bit lost I did AAT and then ACCA.

While many of my friends had been awarded exemptions on ACCA, I was starting again.

It was disheartening, but also exciting to embark on something new. I was lucky to get a temporary job during the summer after leaving university that gave me a lot of exposure to accounting and operational issues. It was a business that had been through a takeover and had joined a new group; I was left with eight boxes of paperwork, a copy of the Sage accounts and six members of staff – none who were involved in the finance or operations, so I hit the ground running. This role enabled me to study AAT in the evening and allowed me the seek progression to other roles.

It’s not a race

Studying ACCA is not a race. I received a few fails along the way and I am proud to admit I was not defeated. A Henry Ford quote has always stuck with me – “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”. The ACCA exams are as much about approach as providing an answer.

Studying while working full time, and having other commitments, is difficult and can be a lonely journey if you do not know anyone else studying the course. It is also difficult to fit exams in, while doing a busy month end and working crazy hours.

I set up the ACCA Distance Learning Students group on Facebook in September 2014.

As I was studying at home I didn’t have any contact with fellow students, and it provided a perfect platform to share questions – and get some answers! The group has now grown to over 2,400 members, and I have seen fellow travellers gain qualifications, joined in their success, helping to motivate others to ‘get qualified’.

“have sat on the beach
with my study books, on
at a concert a few days
before the exam”

Life’s ups and downs

Families do not understand the pressures that students put on themselves. We often miss out on events and family time to study. The most heard quote is, ‘you will be fine’; but secretly you are in a panic and feel guilty you are not studying.

I have sat on the beach with my study books, on trains/planes/buses, at a concert a few days before the exam – torn between not missing out and putting in the hard work. The best comfort is to see, via the Facebook group, that you are not on your own. There are many other students who feel the same!

This journey has not always had a positive impact on my mental health, and sometimes I have felt isolated. I am pleased to see this has now been recognised as an issue and many accountancy bodies are now providing wellbeing support.

The highs on this journey have been winning a PQ magazine editor’s award for the Facebook group, being invited to observe on an ACCA members panel (an honour as a student), and also to work with ACCA to give feedback on student views. The biggest high, though, has to be receiving that last result to say you have finished!

I’ve met some fantastic people and made friends on this journey and received some amazing support from tutors and work colleagues, both past and present.

I am looking forward to seeing ACCA from the other side of the fence and what opportunities it may bring in the future, as well as celebrating once lockdown has finished!

Some final advice

ACCA is a professional qualification. It takes hours of commitment, sometimes sleepless nights, and it will be a rollercoaster of emotion.

If you are able to plan to study effectively, lean on study support networks, be honest with yourself and look after yourself mentally.

And remember, it’s not a race to the finish line – you will be able to achieve ACCA status!

• Becky Hennessey is a management accountant at Coventry University.