Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

Case Study: Carly Wilson

Carly Wilson
Professional Services Account Manager, CIPFA Qualified , Cheshire West and Chester Council

My Current Role:

"I lead and manage the provision of traded services to schools, council companies and external organisations. This involves meeting with partner organisations to share best practice and explore opportunities for collaboration and partnership working. It is part of the Council’s vision to enhance its commerciality."

Why did you choose the CIPFA Professional Accountancy Qualification?

What advice would you give to young people who are looking to pursue a career in public finance?

“CIPFA seemed to be the market leading institute for public services and was widely supported by public sector employers. It was also broad and covered topics like leadership and management, as well as finance.”

Don’t be put off by the term finance. Many people think that it’s all about numbers but accountancy is so much more than that.”

Full case study

My Career Journey: 

I started as a Trainee Accountant with NHS Wales in 2000. This gave me vital experience of the public sector, working across many of the traditional finance functions such as financial accounting, management accounting and systems management. During this time I studied for my AAT qualification and then in 2004 progressed onto the CIPFA qualification.

I left the NHS in 2005 but continued my CIPFA studies while working for an English Police Authority and later as a Senior Accountant for a Welsh Council. I eventually became Planning and Resources Manager for Education at a Welsh Local Authority. This was a key role in my career journey and provided a wealth of experience across a broad range of areas, including operational and financial management.

In 2015 I took up my current position with Cheshire West and Chester Council

Why did you choose accountancy as a career?

I had always been interested in finance and I was always better with numbers at school, than I was with words, so accountancy seemed a logical career.

Why did you choose to work in public services?

Initially I was drawn to the private sector. I didn’t really associate hospitals, councils, etc. with accountancy but when I was studying for my A-Levels I undertook a work experience placement with the NHS and it swayed me to public services instead. I was interested by the diverse range of opportunities.

How was your study funded i.e. were you sponsored by your employer?

All of my studying was supported by my employer which I’m very grateful for. I was lucky enough to secure a trainee position early in my career.

Do the things you learnt during your studies still help you in your day-to-day tasks?

CIPFA is so broad that it gives you a variety of skills to work in a senior position. People often ask me why I don’t work in finance, even though I’m a Chartered Accountant, but the skills that CIPFA taught me, coupled with the experience I’ve gained by working across various different organisations, has given me the versatility to be flexible and explore opportunities that you wouldn’t expect a Chartered Accountant to be able to.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

I love working on projects that transform the way organisations work and I’m very much a people person so my current role is right up my street.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I am always keen to develop myself and gain more experience. I’m not really driven by money, I’m more interested in being in a role that motivates me to make a difference and gives me the freedom to use my skills to improve things. I would definitely like to continue being involved in transformational type activities; with the way that the public sector is changing, I think there will be a lot of opportunities for this in the future.