AAT Vice President elect: my journey so far
Christina Earls, CIPFA South West President, has recently been named AAT Vice President elect.
My story with AAT started with being tapped on the shoulder by the ubiquitous Trevor Salmon in 2012. He suggested I stand as a co-optee from the CIPFA Council to the AAT Council in the days when CIPFA had three co-opted members. I would be following a long list of people like Trevor, Mike Evans, Rachel Banfield and Mark McBride.
I never had the chance to study with the AAT myself all those years ago. After university, I got a job in Revenues at Leeds County Council and felt very lucky to be offered what was, in those days, the RVA qualification (now known as the IRRV). They refused to let me do CIPFA, so it was only after I passed my RVA exams and got promoted to work at Oxford City Council that my then boss David Magor (now Chief Executive of IRRV) and our Chief Executive at Oxford Mr John Patrick, who went on to become CIPFA President, agreed to sign me up for the Senior Officer Scheme with CETC.
Having been involved in volunteer activity through being a student, I eventually (after more than a few attempts) got onto the CIPFA Council in 2010, leading to that tap on the shoulder. I formally applied to become a member of AAT shortly after through having CIPFA membership and very proudly became a fellow after five years, awarded my certificate by Vernon Anderson, AAT President at the time, who is now an honorary member of CIPFA through his public service.
I have had the enormous pleasure getting to know some amazing folk through my AAT network and have heard some inspirational and heart-warming stories about how AAT has provided the opportunity for good, successful and deeply satisfying careers, not just from young people saving hard to study with the intent to work in finance, but also, for those embarking on second careers, the AAT qualification has given them the chance to work for themselves.
I have also had the great pleasure of supporting staff to give them the opportunity to study AAT and gain opportunity and promotions not otherwise open for them. When I worked for the Department for Works and Pensions, I got involved in supporting people out of work with the chance to gain AAT qualifications, as AAT is accessible to all, whatever their background and study attainment.
While at the DWP, I was also given the opportunity to represent the Government Finance Profession by my wonderful friend and colleague Alison Lally in developing the new trailblazer apprenticeship accounting for Level 3 Assistant Accountant and Level 4 Professional Accounting Technician. I am so proud to now be working for CIPFA as a work-based learning coach for AAT Level 3, Level 4 and Level 7 apprentices. The insight I gained from being Chair of the AAT Learning and Development Board for several years, which oversaw the AAT qualification, was so valuable. It allowed me to really appreciate the full extent of the importance of the AAT brand, so very similar to how we hold the CIPFA brand as CIPFA members. I was able to become a coach after standing down from the CIPFA Council in 2019 after nine years’ service. I’ve also been on the AAT Council for nine years, and in my final year, I was finally granted the honour of being elected as Vice President elect.
I will be made Vice President at the AGM in September, supporting Heather Hill, who will take on the presidency from David Frederick, who is also a CIPFA member. Heather and I get on very well, as she too is an avid volunteer and has long been involved in AAT branch activity. AAT branches are different from CIPFA regions; there are more of them, but they are based around more discrete towns and cities. Despite around a third of AAT members working in the public sector, most branch members are licensed practice owners, so they really understand the benefit of networking. One ambition I have is to engage many more of our public sector AAT members into the AAT branch network, as well as encourage AAT public sector members to join in with our CIPFA regional activity. As President of CIPFA South West region, I have tried to encourage our AAT colleagues, and I would also love to see many more CIPFA members who have dropped their membership of AAT rejoining!
While I look to determining what my ambitions will be as I support Heather and look to taking on the presidency, I will be thinking about how I can encourage our members to engage fully with CPD and keeping up not only their knowledge but refining their skills and behaviours to meet the demands of the digital world of work we are now in, to act as role models for the generations that will follow us, and, of course, to raise awareness and understanding of AAT as the leading accounting technician qualification.
Vernon Anderson and Christina Earls.