AAT Case Study: From Administrator to Finance Manager

Written by: Lynn Hayes
Published on: 21 Nov 2013

Lynn Hayes is Deputy Principal at the Department of Education's Education and Training Inspectorate in Central Government, Bangor, Northern Ireland. Lynn has worked in the Department of Education for over ten years now. Lynn's responsible for managing the budget for the ETI which involves forecasting on a monthly basis as well as working closely with the Department's Human Resources team in recruiting new staff a manages a team of twelve staff as well as answering Assembly Questions, Freedom of Information and Data Protection requests.

Over twenty years ago I was working in the civil service in an administration post. My line manager at the time started to give me work which was of a financial nature. I enjoyed this work and over time I noticed I was being asked to take on more financial and accounting tasks. Not only was I taking on more responsibility but I also noticed that my job role was changing. 

It got to a point where I was making decisions based on the records I was keeping, things such as what payments could be made from the remaining budget we had towards the year-end – colleagues would trust my judgement. At this time I heard that there was another person in my organisation doing very similar work to me but in a much more senior position. This is when I realised that I had a head for numbers and the potential to have a rewarding career within finance.

It's sometimes hard to believe how far I've come; I now manage twelve staff and am a Deputy Principal for the Education and Training Inspectorate here in Bangor, Northern Ireland. 

I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to change my career land in my lap. The Northern Ireland Civil Service started to run a trainee accountant scheme. My line manager asked if I had any interest in taking part and I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I knew the value in gaining a formal qualification that was valued and backed by my employer. I was twenty six years old when I began my AAT qualification.

While working towards my AAT qualification I moved to a finance-related post in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Within the space of three years I was promoted twice. When I completed the AAT qualification, I applied for yet another promotion to Staff Officer Accountant in the Department of Education and I was successful in getting that post, I've worked in the Department of Education for almost ten years now. 

I must confess that initially it was quite daunting for me. Previously I had provided support to the departmental accountants. Now however I was being trained in all aspects of resource accounting and I had to take on a lot more responsibility. While it was hard work and challenging at times, I learnt so much during that time and my confidence, knowledge and expertise really grew. I certainly became a lot more confident in decision making. 

I took studying very seriously and passed all of my exams the first time round. I often studied late into the evenings and at weekends. At times this proved to be very demanding especially as I was working full time. Thankfully I have a strong work ethos and always want to succeed so this determination got me through especially when I didn't feel like sitting down and studying after a hard day's work. I'm also certain that this dedication and motivation helped in enhancing my career and getting the promotions!  Eight and a half years ago I applied for AAT membership and obtained my MAAT status. I'm proud to carry the letters after my name. I feel having my membership has carried weight when making financial and managerial decisions over the course of my career.

The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) is part of the Department of Education. The ETI provides inspection services and policy advice for a wide range of departments and agencies.  The three main departments, for which the ETI carries out most of its inspection work, are the Department of Education, the Department for Employment and Learning and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.  The ETI also carries out inspections for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Criminal Justice Inspection. 

My role now involves managing the budget for the ETI – it's a big job which involves forecasting on a monthly basis. I also work with the Department's Human Resources team in recruiting new staff, whether they are administrative or inspectors. In addition to this I answer Assembly Questions, Freedom of Information and Data Protection requests. I have a strong team in which I've worked hard to build up good working relationships.

I'm continually learning so much in my role – no day is the same, learning a qualification on the job is a great way to enhance career prospects and I look forward to what the future holds.