04 Mar 2016 10:50 AM

When I was invited to participate in in the ICAEW’s national business and accounting competition, BASE I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I feel rewarded and challenged in my career and was pleased to be asked to ‘give something back’

BASE is a national competition held by the ICAEW to raise awareness of the accounting profession in students aged 16-19 across the country.  Students are able to participate in a business challenge that helps them to develop employability skills and understand what it’s like to be an ICAEW chartered accountant.  There is also an opportunity to network with professionals so that students can get career advice and ask questions.

The competition consists of regional heats across the country with the winners from each heat being invited to a national final. Each school or college entering a team is allocated a mentor who is a qualified chartered accountant, volunteering to act as a guide for the team, offering advice and answering any technical questions the students may have.

As a mentor I was impressed to see how the students in my team coped with what was a very challenging scenario.  Based upon an ACA case study exam (normally tackled by ACA trainees at the end of their 3 years of training), these A-level students are expected to tackle the problems they are faced with in only a few hours and prepare a presentation for the judges and fellow competitors. The game is based in such a way it encourages teamwork and strict time management and the students are asked some challenging questions.  Being involved with enthusiastic students who are tackling problems and learning new skills whilst putting classroom theory into practice, was a pleasant change to my day job.

I hope that the event will have inspired some future accountants and ensure we are attracting the brightest and most enthusiastic of candidates into the profession.

My team showed exceptional ability, they answered questions with a depth of knowledge that was surprising for their age; but afterwards I did reflect that perhaps this was more due to my preconceived notions of age. We need to recognise that these young adults are highly capable and intelligent and engaging them now before they make their university or career choices could encourage more to explore a career in the profession.

The ICAEW is to be commended for creating the opportunity for us to meet with emerging talent at an early stage and for us to give back to the profession.  I wholeheartedly recommend volunteering at your local regional heat.  Volunteers are essential to the event and it’s a credit to the ICAEW’s members that they are able to get enough people to volunteer to make these events possible.  I’ll certainly be telling colleagues about it and encouraging them to take part.  I for one will be returning next year.

Jonathan Graham ACA

e. Jonathan.graham@alliotts.com

t. 01483 533119