Niamh Connelly is an Assistant Management Accountant at Star Refrigeration’s head office in Glasgow. Niamh joined Star after leaving school when she was sixteen years old. She went on to successfully complete a Modern Apprenticeship in Business and Administration and a BA in Business. She admits “I never thought that I would have gone to University”.
I left high school 2 months short of my 16th birthday with 8 standard grades.
What is your current job title?
Assistant Management Accountant
How did you start working for Star?
I applied to work for Star when I left school with help from the Youth Employment Scheme in my local community. They helped me create a CV and apply for jobs.
What attracted you to the refrigeration industry and to Star in particular?
To be honest, I was so young when I got offered the job to work at Star that it really was about working and getting money. However, Star Refrigeration were very focused on developing my skills and education.
Describe your apprenticeship progress with Star?
I undertook a Modern Apprenticeship in Business and Administration and studied a SVQ Level 2 & 3. This took me a year to complete with the support of a SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) Assessor, who visited me at my work at Star’s head office in Glasgow. The assessor came out once every few months to assess the work I was doing for Star and also gave me modules of coursework to complete. I then went on to City of Glasgow College to do a HNC in Administration and Information Technology which took 2 years to complete, this was on a day release basis. After completing this I went on to The University of the West of Scotland were I started a BA in Business, this took 3 years and I attended Uni 2 evenings a week.
What role did you move into once your qualifications were completed?
When I first started my SVQ apprenticeship I was an office junior but half way through this I was moved on to working in purchase ledger were I remained until I got my degree. Then I moved on to my current position as Assistant Management Accountant.
Has this particular career progression been a long term goal?
When I first started working at Star I was trained to do office junior tasks but when the opportunity to start working in the finance department came, I quickly realised that it was what I really enjoyed the most. I have been lucky enough to have been trained on different tasks within the department, every day can be different with plenty of progression!
What do you specialise in now and what kind of projects do you work on? How different is it to your previous role?
My main role in my new job role is to assist with month end preparation, reporting and forecasting and to support our branch staff with invoicing, analysis and process support. The main difference in my new role is that I have more responsibility. I am in touch with our branch staff across the country as the work requires that I am aware of in-house financial moves. In my previous role I was dealing with suppliers daily.
What do you enjoy most about your job, and what are the biggest challenges you face?
I enjoy analysing accounts and providing the information for the month end reports every month. The biggest challenges I face in my role are timescales as all accounts need to be prepared and ready for the end of the month. I need to ensure that I am organised and can deliver to pre-defined timescales adequately.
What are your career highlights?
My biggest career highlight was when I graduated with my BA in Business. I’ve done this while still doing my weekly hours at work, it was hard but a great accomplishment!
What do you like about working for the company?
I have been working for Star for 8 years. Star is a great company to work for. The people are friendly and the professional and personal benefits of working for Star are brilliant. Even though I have got my degree, they are still keen for me to progress more and further my education and skills.
Where do you see your role progressing?
I really like my new role as Assistant Management Accountant. I have been doing this job for a year and I hope to progress within the role through further training in accountancy.
What advice would you give to young people who are just starting a similar career path to yours?
I never thought I would go to University, but Star gave me the support and confidence to do so. Work hard and you can do anything if you put your mind to it!
Niamh Connelly - Modern Apprenticeship in Business and Administration