Blog: From Modern Apprentice to
Chartered Management Accountant
Sian Jones

14 April 2021

Sian Jones talks about her journey from Modern Apprentice to gaining her CIMA Professional Qualification in Management Accounts

“Like many people who do well in their Highers, I’d never considered any other option apart from University.  If I’m honest, I didn’t even think a Modern Apprenticeship was a route available to me.  But after a few short months of starting Glasgow Uni, I soon realised it wasn’t for me. Although a difficult decision, I left Uni to explore other options (thankfully my parents were supportive!).

After scouring the internet for jobs, I came across an opening for a Finance Modern Apprenticeship in Scottish Water Horizons.  I’d always been good at maths and science at school and it sounded like an exciting opportunity.  Not only would I gain a recognised qualification, I’d also get valuable work experience – always a challenge for school and college leavers!

Sian worked hard to balance a full-time job and studies at home during the pandemic

A rewarding challenge

I started my apprenticeship in 2015 which was very daunting in the beginning.  I’d never worked in a business environment and had no experience of accountancy.  There was certainly a lot to get my head around – from learning a new business and understanding financial terms to getting to grips with new processes and systems.

I knew I’d be able to cope but I did find it challenging at times – balancing a full time job and several exams a year, not to mention a relationship and a social life!  Thankfully I had brilliant support from my colleagues who were always ready and willing to help.  

Working in a professional environment also helped build up my confidence.  I was very shy coming into Horizons but everyone made me feel really welcome.  Very soon I was visiting different sites to help with my learning and development, including the Faslane naval base in Argyll and operations at Aberdeen Harbour.

In 2016 I was runner-up in the BBP Level 4 Apprentice of the Year, and then again in 2017 which I was absolutely thrilled with.  In 2018, I was one of the finalists in Scottish Water’s Vision Awards which I never could have imagined! 

Gearing up for my qualification

Around two and a half years into my apprenticeship, I was promoted onto the Scottish Water graduate scheme and given a permanent role in the finance team.  I was over the moon – I’d secured a job I loved and got the opportunity to progress with my accountancy qualification.

That’s not to say it was all plain sailing.  The exam side was particularly challenging.  I always put a lot of pressure on myself as I’m scared to fail – in hindsight, I shouldn’t have been so hard on myself as I would’ve got there in the end.  

Throughout the five years, I got fantastic support from my assessor, my line manager and my colleagues.  Just recently I passed my final exam and became a fully qualified management accountant.  Although there was a lot of hard work, sweat and tears, it was all worth it. I still have to pinch myself to believe it!

I hope to work my way up to team leader and potentially manager level in the future, however I’m happy where I am for now and enjoying my study-free life – now that lockdown is easing I can finally make up for all the times I had to say no so I could study!”

Scottish Water  is now recruiting for its 2021 #Apprentice programme and have excellent opportunities available across Scotland.   Apply here before midnight on the 18th April:

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