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My ACA Experience: Mariee

Mariee started working at Mazars four years ago on their school leaver programme and is now nearly finished with her training contract sitting her final exam in November 2021.

Mariee Payne

Mariee Payne Audit Senior, Mazars LLP

ICAEW route: School-leaver programme

Industry: Audit and assurance

Location: Poole, UK

Mariee's story...

Tell us about your career journey and what you do day-to-day in your role. 

I started working at Mazars four years ago on their school leaver programme and am now nearly finished with my training contract sitting my final exam in November. It still doesn’t feel real that by then end of the year I could be a chartered accountant!

The last four years have been an absolute whirlwind and I’m so glad I chose to join as a school leaver. Besides completing my standard audit work I’ve been given opportunities to get involved with other areas within the firm such as being a part of the diversity and wellbeing committee, as well as the social committee which I both enjoy in very different ways. I’ve been invited to careers fairs, schools and colleges to help talk about apprenticeships and the accountancy profession and it’s great to go out and represent Mazars.

Four years ago I didn’t know school leaver schemes existed. When I was originally applying no one around me had heard of the scheme and pushed Uni as my only option available. Now, I get to tell people all about it and how it has benefitted me. I definitely think more people are becoming aware of alternative options to uni, but it is still not advertised as much as I would like. As I’m about to qualify, I would recommend the 4 year ACA school leaver route to anyone who wants to do accounting. 

My day-to-day does still vary largely from week to week. But I love this as it keeps things exciting, I would hate to be doing the same thing every week!
I currently senior a variety of clients and each job will typically start with a client planning meeting I’ll attend alongside the manager and partner. These are super interesting and can definitely mix up a week if I am attending one. It’s great to get knowledge from the partner as well. Generally my week involves supervising 2/3 others on an audit, coaching and answering questions, whilst looking at some more complex areas myself. Some weeks can be completely focused on one client, whilst some weeks I may be juggling three clients at once as deadlines approach.

Mix this up with a few internal calls for the committees I’m on, as well as planning any events I’m leading and a week flies by. I’m planning our Christmas party this year and super excited that we can be in person this year after the struggle of planning a virtual event last year which was never going to be as exciting as our previous celebrations. My head is already overflowing with ideas after a year out.

I’ve also just taken on the role of my office’s green champion and can’t wait to get more involved in ways to make Mazars’ and myself more sustainable.

Why did you choose the ACA over other accounting qualifications?

The ACA is highly regarded across a range of industries and sectors. Although I have trained in audit I know that with the ACA I now have so many other options available to me because of the skills and knowledge I’ve gained.  

Do you think there is such a thing as a stereotypical accountant? If so, how do you challenge this stereotype?

Not at all!! Even just looking at my local office everybody is completely different with different ways of working. I think from within the profession the stereotype is going but it’s people from outside the profession who place the stereotype. 

I speak to people who think accountancy is a ‘boring’ career but don’t realise the amount of other opportunities I get to get involved in different things, and the amount of variation in my day to day work.

Why did you decide to go down the route you did?

I’ve always been interested in finance and accountancy, so when I learnt I could gain the ACA without needing a degree first it made sense to go straight for this route. 

I’ve never been treated any different as a school leaver compared to graduates. From my first week in the office I was thrown into going onsite at clients and having conversations with the finance teams of companies we were auditing. This was a little nerve wracking at first but your confidence quickly grows.

What do you love the most about what you do? 

Definitely building up relationships with clients. I have some clients where I have now worked on them for ¾ consecutive years and it’s great going back out each year and getting more involved in the audit process, especially now as I attend planning and clearance meetings. 

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