Meet the CIPFA members

CIPFA members come from all walks of life and have their own stories to tell. Below, we talk to a cross-section of our members about why they joined CIPFA, their careers and interests.

If you want to be share your experiences as a CIPFA member with us, please contact the editorial team on editorial@cipfa.org

Will Goodchild

Will Goodchild - Graduate Finance Trainee at Essex County Council


Will works as a graduate finance trainee, and is currently rotating onto a placement in adult social care. He has been studying with CIPFA for three years, and is President of the South East CIPFA Student Network, as well as the Vice President of the National Student Network. 

Why did you choose to train with CIPFA?

If you go into the public sector, it really is the gold standard for public sector accounting, so that was the main focus of my decision. It is CCAB certified and was specific to the kind of work I would be doing.

What have been the highlights/biggest successes of your career so far?

My biggest success so far is somehow managing to get my 2:1 in Mathematics from one of the top Mathematics universities in the world! That was a big highlight for me. In terms of my work with CIPFA, I’m very pleased to have secured these roles with the South East CSN and National CSN. It's a big challenge, but also extremely rewarding at the same time. 

What’s been the greatest challenge?

I undertook a short three month placement in management accounting just as we were beginning the budget setting cycle. That was a tricky one - I had to learn as I went and after three months I had completed setting a £30 million budget with next to no prior experience of that area. That was probably the biggest work challenge for me! 

What’s your typical working day like?

I have quite an untypical typical work day. I bought a flat very close to work, so I can move between work and home quite regularly. I wake up early and check emails at home, and plan out my day. I normally come into the office between 10 and 11, and then end the day playing table tennis with a colleague! Not having to commute means I can use that extra time to do lots of other things.


When did you first become interested in a career in public finance?

Both of my parents trained as social workers, so it was really instilled in me throughout childhood doing something more than just delivering a profit. Although I didn’t know it, I was probably always going to end up in the public sector. My mum worked for a charity helping disabled children and my sister is in a wheelchair, so I've always sensed the need to protect the most vulnerable in society. When the job came up, I thought it really fitted what I'd like to do.

If you didn’t work in public finance, what kind of job would you be doing?

My ideal job would be working as a crew member on a yacht in the Med. I learned to sail as a teenager, and for our family holidays we used to rent yachts for a few days and travel around the south coast. It’s always a bit wet and windy there, so going somewhere where it’s nice and warm seems nicer!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? And by who?

The piece of advice that stuck with me the most was given by Sir Tony Redmond. I was at the CIPFA South East Summer Conference and was seated next to him. I eventually plucked up the courage to ask him what kind of advice he could give me. He told me that although it's worthwhile having a long term goal, you should really focus your energy on the next step. You need to strive for that, otherwise you won't end up getting to the end result. Having a short term focus with incremental steps is really important. 

If you were given one million pounds, how would you spend it?

I would end up being extremely sensible and accountant-like! I'd probably take 90% and invest in some property and some other funds to diversify a bit. I'd try and set myself up for the future. It would be quite fun to go on some holidays with the remaining £100,000!




If you were Chancellor for the day, what would be the first change you would make?

Because I work in local government and am passionate about it, it seems to me like we've been hit quite hard in austerity. I'd immediately increase levels of funding for services such as adults and children’s social care. The NHS got a pretty big cash injection of 20 billion recently, so I think I’d try and do the same for local government. 

What book/film/TV programme would you recommend to anyone working in public finance?

A colleague lent me a book called Freakonomics – I read it recently and it really changed my perspective on serious questions, but all with a light-hearted approach. It helps you think about problems you face in your day to day work, by viewing it from a different angle. I thought it was really useful. 

Who would be your ultimate dinner party guests?

I've always been fascinated with Alan Turing - I have a relative who passed the legendary crossword and went to Bletchley Park and worked with him. She would never tell us anything about what went on, so it would be interesting to hear his side of the story. I love Science, so I’d include Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, and a games designer called Dave Haywood - he's a personal favourite of mine.

What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a CIPFA member?

There's something a little different about CIPFA which I don’t think the other accountancy bodies do quite as well. I think CIPFA really tries to look after its members and make them feel supported and welcomed into this community. If you're hesitating, I would say take the leap and join the CIPFA family! 




Darrell Hurtt

Darrell Hurtt - Senior Trainer at CIPFA Education and Training Centre


Darrell is a Senior Trainer with the CIPFA Education and Training Centre for students working towards their Professional Qualification. He has worked with CIPFA for over 20 years and is based in the CIPFA London office.

Why did you choose to become a CIPFA member?

Whatever I’ve done in terms of social activities, I’ve always been the one to eventually teach people how to do it! Maybe I have a natural inclination for it, and I definitely do enjoy it. I’ve got a fairly inquisitive mind, and there’s nothing that teaches you about a subject more than having to teach it to somebody else! You have to know it all inside out. The students have no knowledge at first, so you have to be prepared for any question they might throw at you.

What have been the highlights/biggest successes of your career so far?

It’s a continuous thing, because every time the exam results come out you can see if the majority of your pupils have passed. The students who are borderline, but are really determined and try really hard to pass – when they pass the exam it’s a real highlight. The thank you's and feedback from the lessons is nice as well.

What’s been the greatest challenge?

The greatest challenge is normally trying to work through the stuff that shouldn’t get in the way, but it does! Usually IT problems and stuff like that. It’s the little stuff like that that’s challenging.

What’s your typical working day like?

It depends whether I’m training or not. Training days are usually for six hours and one subject with the same group, either face to face in the training rooms here, or the ones in Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, and Cardiff. We now have a global training strategy, and now we have more students outside the UK than inside the UK, and that’s all done via the online training platform. When it’s not a training day, I’m usually preparing materials and getting ready for the next session. We also have to update the materials to keep up with the rule changes. There’s four exams a year, so we train pretty constantly all year round.



When did you first become interested in a career in public finance?

I started university doing zoology, but I dropped out after failing my exams. I worked in a bookies for a while, and then I did a retraining TOPS course in accountancy. I got really interested in the law part, so went back to uni and did a law degree. I then joined the National Audit Office, because I was interested in financial accountancy. That’s where I started training and really enjoyed that.

If you didn’t work in public finance, what kind of job would you be doing?

The policy and technical side intrigues me, but I’ve been in this job for so long that I’m not sure what else I would do!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given or been given? And by who?

My advice would be - Always read the question!

My dad was a teacher and asked a colleague for some advice on what makes a good teacher and she replied with ‘Hold them by the hand, and kick them in the arse!’ I’ve had classes where nobody’s been making an effort, so I tell them that if you don’t put the effort in, you will fail. The only you’re going to be able to do this is by actually doing it! You can’t stare at a page and expect the numbers to jump out at you – you have to get on with it!

If you were given one million pounds, how would you spend it?

I would buy my wife a VW campervan, and I would buy both my children a kayak for playing kayak poloing. They both recently got heavily into it.

If you were Chancellor for the day, what would be the first change you would make?

The one thing that really irritates me is the child benefit taper, where the benefit allowance is measured by person instead of household. It’s really bad for stay at home mums and dads.

What book/film/TV programme would you recommend to anyone working in public finance?

There’s one film I found fascinating called the Billion Dollar Bubble, from the 1970s. It’s about one of the earliest examples of computer fraud by a mutual equity insurance company. They created a ficititious account to balance the numbers and added fake insurance policies to it.  A book which I would recommend to anyone who’s not interested in Maths is Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh. It’s a real page turner.

Who would be your ultimate dinner party guests?

Stephen Fry would have to be my ultimate dinner party guest. One of my bucket list ambitions was to get on QI!

What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a CIPFA member?

Bear in mind that CIPFA is vocational, and is something you are going to use in your chosen career. So if you are working in public services, it should be your first choice. Unlike other professional qualifications, CIPFA is about financial management in general, so there’s more scope to branch out into other things. Just see where it leads you!


Stephanie Donaldson

Stephanie Donaldson - Group Chief Internal Auditor


Stephanie works as Group Chief Internal Auditor at the Government Internal Audit Agency. She is the CIPFA North West Regional President and an Internal Audit board member for both TISonline and the Special Interest group. She has been a member of CIPFA since 2012.

Why did you choose to train with CIPFA?

I joined Internal Audit in local Government from the retail sector in 2006 and my Head of Internal Audit offered me the opportunity to train with CIPFA.


What have been the highlights/biggest successes of your career so far?

Working in Whitehall feels like an absolute privilege and is definitely my career highlight 

What’s been the greatest challenge?

Working full-time in Internal Audit, with 2 children under 5 and doing my CIPFA PQ was pretty challenging!

What’s your typical working day like?

I live in the northwest but spend two or three days a week in Westminster. A London day is quite hectic – I have lots of client and internal management meetings and tend to work quite long hours when I am away from home. But I often work from home on a Friday, which redresses some of the work / life balance. As Head of Internal Audit for five of our customers, I spend a lot of time in Audit Committees and various customer engagement meetings.


When did you first become interested in a career in public finance?

After I had my children I realised I could no longer continue with my retail audit job, as I spent a lot of time away from home. I applied for a job in Internal Audit for a local council in the northwest and worked in local government for 12 years before becoming a senior civil servant.

If you didn’t work in public finance, what kind of job would you be doing?

I studied Archaeology and Art History at University and had aspirations to work in museums or art galleries – so maybe I would be doing that?

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? And by who?

Remember your manners... my parents! 

If you were given one million pounds, how would you spend it?

I would splurge some, save some and use the rest to make other people smile... It would be nice to treat friends and family and support charities that are close to my heart.


If you were Chancellor for the day, what would be the first change you would make? 

As HM Treasury’s Head of Internal Audit, I think I’ll have to pass on this question!

What book/film/TV programme would you recommend to anyone working in public finance?

Sometimes it’s good to watch or read things that are not work related! 😊

Who would be your ultimate dinner party guests?

Michel Roux Jr. (and he could do the cooking!), Neil Armstrong, Salvador Dali and Michelle Obama. Should be an interesting evening!

What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a CIPFA member?

It’s definitely worth the hard work! I have found volunteering for CIPFA hugely rewarding and have made lots of friends and professional connections through CIPFA over the years. In terms of my career, I would not have the job I have today without my qualification.