People Spotlight: Jacqui Cook

08 March 2023

In our latest People Spotlight, we chatted with Financial Accounting Team Leader, Jacqui Cook. Destined for a career in accounting from an early age, Jacqui also uses her skills to help her local community. She’s a big fan of the hit BBC drama ‘Happy Valley’ (and luckily didn’t have to wait 13 excruciating years for the final series…).

Hi Jacqui, tell us a bit about your career journey so far…

I know many people who inadvertently became an accountant but for 12-year-old me, it was a conscious decision as I’d always enjoyed maths – and money! A week of work experience (aged 15) with Colne Valley Water confirmed this was the right career for me.

My first full-time job was as a Purchasing Assistant for the Agricultural and Food Research Council where, amongst other things, I purchased and issued licences to research institutes for office software including the relatively new MS Office for Windows.

From there I took jobs as a Purchase Ledger Clerk, an Assistant Accountant and then an Accountant; all the time studying for my professional exams in my spare time.  Shortly after gaining my professional qualification I was offered the opportunity to lead a new team and jumped at the chance to relocate to Scotland.

A Management Accountant position with Network Rail followed thereafter, then onto Scottish Water, before ultimately landing the role of Financial Accounting Team Leader at Horizons.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m not sure there is a typical day.  There are regular tasks like approving the weekly pay run, monitoring debt plus less frequent activities such as forecasting and budgeting.  Most of my role centres around managing and forecasting the company’s cash flows and arranging loans to fund our renewables capital programme but I also provide guidance and support on our financial processes.

What do you love most about your job?

I think there’s nothing more satisfying than resolving a problem, making processes work better or just helping someone get their job done.  Making sure there’s enough money in the bank at the end of the month to pay salaries is also rewarding in its own way!

Jacqui’s loveable and very cute pets

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy spending time with my family, going for walks with the dog and snuggling up with the cat to watch TV.  I’m also known to like puzzles – crosswords, sudoku, jigsaws – anything to challenge the brain. I enjoy reading and listening to music in equal doses too.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m not sure if people would be surprised, but many don’t know I have a second job as Finance Director for Citizen’s Advice Bureau West Lothian.  I’ve been able to donate my skills and experience to support a local charity which helps people in my community. I’ve gained a better understanding of the types of issues faced by people, particularly the vulnerable, in our society and the help that’s available.

What’s the last TV Show you binged watched?

Happy Valley. I watched series one and two just before the final series started and then waited until I could watch it in one go.  I hate the suspense of waiting a week to find out what happens next, so I much prefer on-demand TV or streaming services.

What’s your favourite food?

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate…because it tastes great but don’t just take my word for it, I’ve also got the figure to prove it!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve had so much good advice along the way but one that sticks in my mind is “trust your first instinct, it’s usually right”.  That was my driving instructor when I was 17, and it’s served me well over the years, especially if I start to doubt myself.

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