ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

Student Insights

Meet your ICAEW Student Council (ISC) Chair and Vice Chair, 2024-2025

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 02 May 2024

Jas Rayat and Kim Kreutle, ISC chair and vice chair Two young women corporate portraits on green background

Jas Rayat and Kim Kreutle are this year’s ISC Chair and Vice Chair. They tell us about themselves, what they get out of volunteering, and what they hope to achieve in their new roles.

Tell us a bit about your career and training so far.

Kim: I started out working in event management, but during the pandemic I began to reconsider my career choice. I wanted something with more progression, and I’d always found accountancy interesting. When I looked into the options, the ICAEW qualification seemed to offer a lot of support, so I decided to progress towards becoming a chartered accountant. I’ve now completed all my Professional Level exams, so I only have the Advanced Level to go – although six months ago I switched to the ACA CTA Joint Programme, so I have my taxation exams too. I hope to be exam qualified by May next year.

Jas: I went down the school leaver route – I didn’t want to rush into doing a degree because the classroom can be completely different from real life. I thought I’d see what it was like to be an accountant, so I applied for an AAT apprenticeship to get some experience – and I really enjoyed it. It made sense for me to stay on the apprenticeship route towards the ACA – as you’re learning, you’re earning, and you’re gaining a network early on, which has proven to be really valuable. I’m very happy to say that I qualified at the end of last year.

How did you get involved with the ICAEW Student Council?

Jas: I joined the Birmingham Chartered Accountants Student Society as an ICAEW Student Council (ISC) representative. I came from a small firm where I didn’t really know many others in my position, so I was looking to build a support network and develop my soft skills. I started putting myself forward for things, speaking up for things I was passionate about, and it just snowballed from there.

Kim: Like Jas, I was looking for networking opportunities. Starting out in my accountancy career, I didn’t know about a lot of things going on in the South West. I saw that the Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the South West England Chartered Accountants Student Society was hosted here in Exeter, so I decided to go along and see what it was like. I became Treasurer, then ISC rep, and it went from there!

How do you find time for volunteering alongside studying and a busy job?

Jas: It’s all about trying to be as organised as you can, but also about being kind to yourself. I’m someone who likes to plan ahead, but one of the key things I’ve learned is to be flexible, too. And letting people around you know what’s on your plate so they can do their best to work around it. 

Kim: It’s important to take breaks, and I find that the time I spend at meetings or events actually helps me focus better when I’m back at home and studying again.

Jas: I think when you have a genuine interest or passion for something, you find the time for it. It doesn’t feel like a chore because it’s something that you’ve chosen to do and want to do.

Kim: I agree with that. Volunteering doesn’t actually take up a lot of time – it’s odd hours here and there, rather than something you have to think about or work on every day.

Has volunteering made a difference to your own skills or development?

Jas: It’s made a massive difference. Part of it is just being around people in similar positions to yourself, and being in an environment where you can be yourself. The opportunity to practise speaking up and being a leader isn’t one that you come across that often in the workplace when you’re a student. The skills I’ve developed from volunteering have been easily transferable to my role at work.

Kim: Stepping up and taking on more roles and responsibilities outside of work has definitely helped me feel more comfortable doing so in the workplace. It also gets recognised – people at my firm know what I’m involved in outside of the office and appreciate the extra work I put into it. It’s a win-win.

Jas: I really agree with that. Even at my workplace, people I haven’t met will recognise me from things I’ve been involved with, which has helped me grow my professional network even more. My managers have positively commented on my networking skills which I developed from volunteering.

What have been the stand-out moments in your year as Vice Chair, Jas?

There have been quite a few! I love seeing posts on LinkedIn from other student societies saying their events have sold out, especially seeing how strongly they’ve bounced back after Covid. Another highlight was bringing everyone together at BDO Birmingham’s office to host a Student Council meeting – which is where I met Kim in person for the first time. Being able to host everyone at my office was really nice. A more personal achievement was becoming qualified, and looking back and thinking ‘Wow, I finally made it!’ It took about a month to sink in!

And what’s on the agenda for the coming year?

Jas: Something I’ve always been passionate about is social mobility. I want to make sure there aren’t any barriers to entry to the accountancy profession and that the various pathways are visible and accessible for all. Another thing I want to do is make the student experience better – whether that’s exams, societies or the training file side - and that’s where I’ll be working closely with Kim, because she’s got a lot of hands-on experience. When I was a student, I didn’t know how to speak up or where to go, and being in this role gives you that platform to speak up on behalf of students. The final thing is promoting ICAEW and the ACA qualification itself, because it’s such a fantastic career path to go down. 

Kim: I definitely agree with what Jas says about social mobility and bringing in people from different backgrounds. Having gone through a career change myself, I’m really passionate about promoting accountancy to other people who might be in a similar position. I also want to help promote the student societies – in the past year I’ve seen an increase in people coming along to events, and I’d like to see that continue. Apart from that, as Jas has already mentioned, ICAEW is just such a fantastic institute with lots of different opportunities and services. In terms of student support, there are different things you can access – like caba, for example – that I don’t think everybody is aware of, so I’d like to promote awareness of those. 

And finally Jas, if you could give Kim one piece of advice for the coming year, what would it be?

I’ve actually got two! The first thing I’d say is that this is an absolutely golden opportunity, so use the platform as best as you can for what matters to you. Don’t hesitate to raise any ideas or suggestions you have, because you’re at the forefront of the student experience and it’s a real opportunity to make change for the better. Capitalise on your community and the network you’ll develop, because you’ll meet a lot of interesting individuals who can help you achieve the things you’re passionate about. 

The second piece of advice is to prioritise your wellbeing. Alongside the ACA and CTA exams, you’ve got a full-time job, this role as Vice Chair and no doubt personal commitments as well, so try to look after yourself. You can only give yourself to others when you’ve had the time to look after yourself, so take time to rest, recharge and recover.

The ICAEW Student Council and Student Societies bring together ICAEW students from around the world, providing a voice and a feedback mechanism for you and thousands of training students.

Related articles