My Accountancy Career Path: Freelance Bookkeeper & AAT Tutor Lisa Leonard
In our new 'My Career Path' series, we interview our tutors about their career history and what helped them succeed in their field.
AAT tutor and Freelance Bookkeeper Lisa Leonard details her rich and diverse career history, including her starting role as an Accounts Clerk, her progression to a Training Consultant for an accounting software firm and her transition into teaching and freelance work.
Could you give us an overview of your current job?
I work as a self-employed bookkeeper and provide a full bookkeeping service to a number of clients working remotely, managing their accounting process and systems. I also offer a service completing self-assessment tax returns for sole traders.
I'm also an AAT tutor for ICS Learn students who are studying online. This involves me providing them with support and advice as they work their way towards their exams.
In addition to both these roles, I also work as an independent assessor for AAT providing end-point assessment for apprentices.
What made you choose accounting as a career?
My first job after college at the age of 18 was in an office as an Accounts Clerk. I quickly found that it was an area I enjoyed as it was logical and methodical and suited my attributes.
This is what helped me to decide that a career in accountancy was for me and I decided to gain a recognised qualification.
How did you get started in accounting?
Having a job in a busy accounts department within a commercial company gave me the opportunity to learn the different aspects of accounting.
This gave a great foundation to my career as the department was relatively small I had the opportunity to learn and cover my colleagues while they were sick or on holiday. This gave me a broad overview of a typical accounts department.
It was during this time that I decided to study AAT which put the theory behind the day to day transactions I had been undertaking.
What were your next career steps, and how did you progress to these roles?
In my role within an accounts department, I showed initiative to learn as much as I could by shadowing colleagues and asking lots of questions.
When I decided to study AAT, I felt that it was time to move on and I found a job working for the local council who would also support my studies and offered day release to go to classes. This taught me a different side to accounting as I worked within pensions and treasury.
When I qualified as an Accounting Technician I moved into an assistant accounting role within the council. I soon realised that I had a keenness to teach and train and landed a job as a training consultant at a company who provided accounting software.
From here I worked my way up into senior management. Some years later I decided on a career change and took a job teaching AAT to apprentices at a local college and this is where my tutoring career began. When I had a family, I decided to become a freelance bookkeeper and joined ICS Learn as a tutor.
What helped you most in your career progression at each stage?
I would say that getting my AAT qualification boosted my career and salary expectation. Having the qualification on my CV made me more desirable to employers and I was definitely invited to more interviews.
When I decided to go into teaching, I was fortunate to receive the training and support to gain the qualifications required to become a tutor and assessor.
Why did you become an AAT tutor?
I have always enjoyed working with people and training people in accountancy. It’s something thatI'm passionate about and is a huge part of who I am. Being methodical and logical' it inspires me when I can pass this onto someone and watch them grasp a concept and understand it too.
There are not many people that I can talk to about accountancy as their eyes soon glaze over! With teaching people, I am able to share my enthusiasm and keep my knowledge fresh.
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