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Abbie’s school leaver journey

What’s it like to start your training straight from school? How does it feel to study whilst working in a big busy firm? Jane Walker spoke to Abbie Yule to find out more.


We asked Abbie about how her career’s evolved, what made her choose accountancy and what a typical day is like for a trainee getting ready for the final case study exam.

All about Abbie

Abbie attended school in the East End of Glasgow and is currently a Corporate Tax Senior at Mazars LLP after having joined the firm in June 2014. The biggest decision when leaving school is to determine a career path and how you are going to join the path whether it be by university or straight to work.

As Abbie explains, she wasn’t sure whether to go to university or straight into the world of work:

“I never had any real interest in going to university, so looking for a job was my main priority. I did apply to various universities in Glasgow, but deep down I knew that if I got offered a job first I would take that instead. 

“University didn’t feel like the best option for me, as once I completed my degree, I would still need to sit my professional exams to become a Chartered Accountant.  

“Personally, on-job training seemed more logical and valuable to me as I could be applying what I learned on a day-to-day basis, rather than hearing about what I should do from sitting in a lecture hall.”

“Shortly after school ended in May, I got offered two positions; one with Mazars LLP and one with a small accountancy firm – however surprisingly both were tax roles – something which I has never really considered as I had no idea what the job entailed. I decided to accept the school leaver role as a Trainee Tax Technician at Mazars, as it was a bigger firm and I thought I’d have more opportunities to grow my career and complete my professional qualifications with greater support.  

“At first, I thought the job would be a foot in the door to an accountancy firm after which I could then move from tax into ‘accounts’ which is where I thought I would like my career to be, but once I started to develop a wider skillset I felt that corporate tax was a good fit for me as I enjoyed facing new challenges and solving problems.”

What made you choose this career?

“I always wanted to work in accountancy, even in high school most of my best subjects were those that involved numbers and business, like maths, physics, accountancy and business management. However, I didn’t go out of my way to work in corporate tax, it was something I fell into after being unsuccessful in obtaining an accountancy role.”

How has your role changed since you started with Mazars in 2014?

“I started out as Trainee Taxation Technician and, as you’d expect for a first role, it had very little responsibility. I spent most of my time doing very small jobs such as basic tax computation, or carrying out a small task which was part of a bigger project. My workload was managed by senior team members and I was closely monitored. 

“As training is an essential part of the job, I completed regular training with my manager, which helped me build my basic tax knowledge. When I first started working at Mazars, my role involved a mix of both personal and corporate tax work, so I was able to gain experience of both which would assist me in my exams, however I then moved into the corporate tax team as a permanent position.

“I started the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) qualification about a year into my career and passed my first exam in November 2015 before becoming ATT qualified by the summer of 2016. I then took a year off studying to concentrate on work before I began the ACA/CTA joint programme, which allows me to obtain two qualifications at the same time. 

“As I progressed through my professional qualifications, I changed roles from Trainee, to Corporate Tax Assistant and I’m now a Corporate Tax Senior with the aim to work towards a management role once I am professionally qualified.

“My current role involves greater responsibility compared to when I first started my career; I manage my own workload together with maintaining client relationships and work on a range of things for a number of managers and partners. My role is exclusively in corporate tax and I complete complex Corporate Tax Computations. I’ve also recently moved into the Tax Advisory team, which again brings into test different skills with the aim to broaden my tax knowledge further and potentially specialise in a specific area of tax.”

What’s your typical working day like?

“My day is more intense now than when I first started due to the higher levels of responsibility I have. I have a bigger workload, so time management has become a big part of my daily working life!  

“I attend more meetings now, which helps me to developing different skills such as communication.  I’m also building on things like soft skills, which has enabled me to improve my writing skills – as a member of the Advisory team, keeping things clear and concise is essential. 

“On a typical day I go to the gym on my way to work – I aim to be at the office before 8am so that I can get started. 

“My work usually involves completing various assignments for clients including dealing with enquiries from HMRC, advising on potential R&D claims, calculating R&D claims and Capital Allowances claims.

“I’m also responsible for admin duties such as preparing emails, booking travel and processing fees, so I have to be really organised.

“There’s a great sense of being part of a team at Mazars, so although we’re all busy, I catch up with colleagues throughout the day and I know there’s always someone on hand to offer advice if I need it.      

“I usually head home right after work, as with my exams coming up, I’m studying most evenings. If I do have any spare time, I like going swimming as I find it relaxing to just zone out from daily life and get away from all the stresses!”

What it’s like getting ready for your case study?

“The Case Study is a very different exam compared to the others, due to the lack of technical content and intensive studying. 

“It is difficult to adapt to a different way of learning as generally your answers will come from the information provided in the exam on the day.  

“It tests a different skill set and is a challenge but I also know that overcoming these challenges will broaden my skillset and will make me more adaptable in the future as well as giving me other ways to approach problems. 

“This is my final exam, so it is also a nice feeling knowing that the end is in sight!”

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