Why did you choose to work in public services?

How does the CIPFA certification help you in your day-to-day tasks? Long-term?

The diversity of public service provision and the need to develop alternative non-financial performance measures presented particular interest, otherwise I had no particular bias either between the public or private sector.  In fact, I quite enjoy the application of commercial disciplines in the public sector so the opportunity to now study for the joint CIPFA/ICAS audit qualification will be excellent for new trainees.
The CIPFA qualification gives me the professional authority to perform my function as statutory external auditor and to issue reports bearing my name along with the (Chartered Public Finance Accountant (CPFA) designation.

Full case study

Why did you choose to become CIPFA certified? 

I was among the first cohort of graduate trainees to join the Audit Commission at its inception in 1983.  The Audit Commission was a major sponsor of professional trainees studying for the CIPFA qualification because of its excellent fit with local government and the National Health Service.

Why did you choose accountancy as a career? 

I graduated university with a Science degree so I was used to applying investigative techniques, analysing large data sets, and communicating technical findings. A career in audit presented an opportunity to develop these research skills and become a professional accountant. It also provided an economically viable alternative to the conventional post-graduate scientist options.

How long have you been qualified as a CPFA?

I passed my final CIPFA examination in 1986 and became a member of the Institute in 1987. I have been a qualified professional for over 28 years.

Why did you choose to become CIPFA certified? 

I was among the first cohort of graduate trainees to join the Audit Commission at its inception in 1983.  The Audit Commission was a major sponsor of professional trainees studying for the CIPFA qualification because of its excellent fit with local government and the National Health Service.

What’s your specialism – please give a brief overview of your role?

In my current role I am the Statutory External Auditor for the British Overseas Territory of St Helena.  My office is protected through the country’s constitution so I may independently audit and report to parliament on the financial affairs of government and public bodies including their economic, efficient and effective use of resources.

Can you briefly explain your career journey to-date?

 I started as a professional audit trainee with the Audit Commission in 1983, initially in Manchester and then moved across to Merseyside.  Just five-years after graduating and now CPFA qualified, I left to join Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) as an Audit Manager in their public sector division in Norwich. In 1990, with three years post-qualified manager experience, I decided to venture overseas and secured a top-tier appointment working for the Development for International Development (DFID) as a Director of Audit, initially in St Helena and then the Turks & Caicos Islands. I had a few more posts after that and after a gap of 20 years, I was invited to return to St Helena again as statutory auditor to promote good governance and accountability. It was an extraordinary time for the Island with the construction of a £250m UKAID funded international airport, due to open in 2016. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed a fabulous career with my CIPFA qualification – I wonder where I will be heading next?

Do you believe that your CIPFA certification created opportunities for you that would have otherwise been unavailable?

There is no doubt that the understanding of public sector finance and accountancy within the CIPFA qualification provided that added-value insight in my role as external auditor in the public sector. It also enabled me to step-up when new opportunities presented with professional confidence and expertise.

How does the CIPFA certification help you in your day-to-day tasks?  Long-term?

The CIPFA qualification gives me the professional authority to perform my function as statutory external auditor and to issue reports bearing my name along with the (Chartered Public Finance Accountant (CPFA) designation.

What do you like most about your CIPFA membership?

Being a member of a professional body which carries the hallmark of quality and excellence in public services within which I operate.

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

Take a serious look at the new CIPFA/ICAS audit qualification for corporate audit and public audit. This dual designation will give you the ability to provide expertise right across the public/private continuum and will take your audit career in whatever direction you desire.