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My ACA Experience: Daniel

Daniel knew that by completing the ACA he would be joining an industry leading professional membership body which would support him in his career and give employers confidence in his professional credentials.

Daniel Wilde

Daniel Wilde Regional Finance Manager, The HALO Trust

ICAEW route: School-leaver programme

Industry: Charity

Location: Dumfries, UK

Daniel's story...

Why did you choose the ACA over other accounting qualifications? 

I considered a few qualifications, but it was the ACA which ticked all of the boxes for me; an instantly recognised, globally relevant designation with a modern syllabus tailored to the skills and competencies needed by chartered accountants in practice and industry today.  I knew that by completing the ACA I would be joining an industry leading professional membership which would support me in my career and give employers confidence in my professional credentials.  It also helped that I was offered a training position with an ICAEW accredited firm!
Who or what inspired you to become a chartered accountant?

I had developed into a finance role at an SME quite organically and, wanting to upskill, I studied at my local college; after a couple of years, I obtained my Scottish Higher National Diploma in accounting.  I found I had an affinity with the subject and started imagining how far accountancy could take me.  It was at this point that I looked into becoming a chartered accountant - in my mind, the way to access the higher tiers of professional, rewarding careers - but being a mature student with a family at home I didn't feel that university was an option and so I thought I had reached the ceiling of qualification open to me at that time.  I was frustrated at being constrained when I thought I had what it took to go further, but had almost resigned myself to what I thought was my lot. 

However, my college tutor - himself a chartered accountant - encouraged me to push myself further and take a chance, and so I did; with encouragement from my tutor and family members, I approached a firm and, despite not meeting their stated entry criteria, managed to convince them to give me an opportunity to prove myself with the ACA exams.  Looking back, my college tutor was definitely the key influencer in me becoming a chartered accountant.
Tell us about your current role at The Halo Trust?

The HALO Trust is an international humanitarian landmine clearance NGO, removing the explosive remnants of war from over 25 countries and territories worldwide.  Within HALO, I am the Regional Finance Manager for Southern Africa and South East Asia.  Based in the UK headquarters, I am a professional finance business partner to my operations management colleagues who are responsible for the programmes within my portfolio. 

My role involves providing technical financial advice, support and guidance to colleagues to support them in decision making and business direction, and being the key interface between the programmes and other HQ teams such as donor management, corporate finance and strategy.  It is an exciting role providing financial leadership and direction which enable and support the operations on the ground, and those are making a real difference to peoples lives and economic livelihoods across the world.

What’s the most interesting/exciting project you’ve worked on?

The organisation is currently going through a management and finance transformation following significant growth in recent years, and I get to be a part of shaping the new direction, systems and processes being implemented or improved.  Recently I spent a month in Cambodia, where I had an opportunity to work directly with locally employed and expatriate colleagues and visit the minefields where we are doing the life changing work in rural and developing parts of the country. 

Now back in the UK, I am using the insights from that experience to guide our continuing progress through the transformation project and I'm excited to see how my role - as well as the organisation as a whole - will continue to evolve as this develops.
What do you love the most about your current role and why? 

The variety; there are such a wide range of country programmes, and situations that arise, that there's always a new challenge to tackle.  The interaction with different parts of the organisation also plays into this, as I need to adopt different approaches or think about things from a different angle, depending on who I am working with and what their needs and perspectives are.
What advice would you give to those considering the ACA?

It's going to be a challenge; it is designed to get you thinking like a business finance professional and equip you for the roles you might find yourself in at the heart of different organisations, so it doesn't go easy on you and you need to be prepared to put in the time and effort.  That said, with the ACA you are making an investment in yourself and your future opportunities, so it's absolutely worth it and each exam you pass is a real achievement. 

The best piece of advice I can give is that if you believe that you can go further, act on that and seek out the opportunity to study the ACA; it is accessible to you, even if it perhaps doesn't seem like it at first.  That was what I learned from my journey and acting on that was the catalyst that got me to where I am now.

Daniel Wilde

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