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Career stories: Louise Fellingham, Management Accountant

16 Aug, 2012
Louise Fellingham

Louise Fellingham

In the run up to A-level and GCSE results days, we’re publishing a series of Q&A case studies from our Big Picture issue on Careers with Biology.

Louise Fellingham took science A levels and studied biology and zoology at university. But when she realised she did not want to pursue a career in science, a final-year project in business ignited an interest in accountancy.

What do you do?
I am the management accountant for the operations division at the Trust.

How do you describe your job in a single sentence?
I look after all the accounts and the budgets for the operations departments, such as HR, Finance, Facilities and IT. I also manage the budgeting for all of our employment costs and look after the Trust’s fixed assets – our big pieces of equipment, our buildings, our furniture, our IT infrastructure.

What did you study at school? Did you go to university?
I studied A-level biology, chemistry and maths and AS-level Spanish. Then I went to Durham University, where I studied biology and zoology.

Given your academic career, how did you end up being an accountant?
I enjoyed my degree and found it very interesting, but I knew that I didn’t want to pursue a career in science. In my final year at university, instead of doing a research-based project, I did a business project in which I developed an idea for a biotechnology company. I took on the finance side of that and quite enjoyed it, so I looked to get an accountancy qualification when I graduated.

Was it hard to find your current role?
There are lots of opportunities when you graduate to train to be an accountant. It is quite competitive, but if you’ve done your research and you prepare yourself for the interviews and tests, you can get into accountancy. Jobs at the Wellcome Trust are harder to get, but that’s not to say they don’t come up!

What one tip would you give to a young person who’d like the same job?
Look around for every opportunity that you can find to get experience. Just after I graduated – before I got a job on the graduate scheme – I did a short stint as a finance assistant for a biotechnology company, in their accounts department. Little bits of experience like that add to your CV and can give you the edge over other graduates.

What skills from your biology background do you use in your work?
I use a lot of the analytical skills. Much of the science in my degree involved analysing results, doing experiments, and that ties in nicely with finance and what I do on a day-to-day basis (analysing the finances for all of my departments, looking at trends, working with spreadsheets…). So, actually, that’s been quite transferable.

What prospects for progression are there?
Accountancy can have quite a structured progression. You get your qualification, move on to where I am now, and then – I hope – in a few years’ time look to take on more of a managerial role.

What do you do for pleasure?
I like to cycle, a lot! I belong to a cycle club based in south-west London called London Dynamo. I race for the ladies’ team and we do rides abroad. When work allows, I try to get to evening races and training in Richmond Park. Some times of the year are busier than others, so I just try to fit after-work training in when I can.

Qualifications

  • A levels in biology, chemistry and mathematics (2002)
  • BSc (Hons) in zoology, University of Durham (2005)
  • ICAEW Chartered Accountancy (2009)

Career history

  • Temporary work as a finance assistant for biotechnology company Oxford Immunotec (2005)
  • National Audit Office (qualified as a chartered accountant) (2006-09)
  • Management accountant, Wellcome Trust (2009-present)

This article was originally part of the online content for ‘Big Picture: Careers from biology’. Read more profiles and find out more about careers with biology on the website

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