Interview: Jamie Mumford-Raine CA, from the classroom to the desert
How a newly-qualified CA’s career has taken him around the world.
Jamie Mumford-Raine left university with a degree in economics and a fairly clear idea of where he wanted to go with it. He wanted to see the world and to be a business leader.
Now, 10 years on, he’s Downstream Commercial Development Analyst at BP and he’s worked in many places including India, Russia, The Netherlands and Algeria. He’s also a CA – a career move he credits with helping him to be so successful.
Where it all began
“I did economics at university and it was good in terms of looking at the macroeconomic drivers of what makes the world tick. Then I was looking for some more practical finance knowledge.
“The good thing about the ICAS qualification is that it offers a strong mix of accounting modules, as well as finance, tax and business-focussed ones. It was the perfect complement to the degree. From day one I wanted to be in a business and understand where the numbers were coming from.”
Attracted by the strength of the ICAS reputation and the draw of dedicated classroom learning, Jamie opted to join BP and study to be a CA at BPP’s London centre.
Becoming a Chartered Accountant was very important to him. He said: “I’m the only CA in my team and, all of a sudden, I realised how broad my skillset is. So, I’ll be working on commercial deals and I’ll be the one in the room that, for example, has a grasp of capital allowances for tax or the kind of debt versus equity funding. A lot of people think it’s just an accountancy qualification – it’s not, it has broad business focus.”
The training combined well with BP’s graduate scheme at the time. Then it was a cross-segment, three-year rotational scheme. Jamie’s first year was spent in London doing internal control work for the European fuels business, but it was in the second year that things really got interesting for him.
Whereas a lot of guys would go up to Aberdeen and work on the North Sea stuff, for me, the opportunity was to actually go and live in the Sahara desert – essentially in a Portacabin!
He said: “I had barely finished TPS and I was being flown to Algeria. Whereas a lot of guys would go up to Aberdeen and work on the North Sea stuff, for me, the opportunity was to actually go and live in the Sahara desert – essentially in a Portacabin!
“I took a flight every three weeks from Gatwick with a load of other oil workers. Flying over the desert, you see the flares coming up from the sand and it really is like flying into another planet.
“Algeria was a real eye-opener, with the opportunity to get out to some of the drilling sites in the middle of the desert and see first-hand the kind of massive infrastructure that goes behind getting gas out of the ground.
“I would be standing on the drilling platform and talking to the superintendent about his operations one day, and the next going to a facility and looking out across the sand dunes where, as far as the eye can see, is the export pipeline, peeling off into the distance.
“The work I was doing was around the planning and the budgeting which was great. I had to work pretty closely with the drilling teams to understand how they build their budgets, as well as with treasury to make sure the JV finances operated smoothly.”
A Dutch way of life
Jamie’s next posting was a job in the Netherlands where he received insights into another area of the business, getting involved with group reporting and year end accounts there. It brought him closer to the downstream part of the business such as petrol stations and the lubricants industry.
“On the same floor, I would sit with the guys that had to set the pricing at the pumps in the Netherlands,” he said: “It was my first tiny glimpse of a commercially running business.”
Now his current role is all about looking at new opportunities for the downstream segment. While based in the UK, his work takes him around the world.
He said: “In nuts and bolts terms, I’m no longer doing accounting – I’m doing investment appraisals. When I think back to the part of the studies I enjoyed most it was advanced finance and the part around investment appraisal for projects. I have always wanted to do work on preparing business cases and enjoy the interaction with people working in the wider organisation.
“Early in my career, to help me transition from accounting to commercial, I signed up for all of the commercial training I could and asked to get involved on side projects here and there. I also flicked back through my TPS notes from time to time, so don’t throw them out after your exams as they could come in handy one day!”
One of the things we’ve been working on is networking events targeted to help new CAs meet some of the high-flying CAs.
He’s now considering his longer term career goals and what he needs to do to get there. Ultimately he’d like to head a BP business, but having done many technical courses, he’s now looking to focus on the other skills he will need, for example, in leadership as well as continuing to use the networks he established a decade ago in the classrooms at Waterloo.
A member of the ICAS London and Home Counties area Committee, Jamie enjoys meeting other CAs at various stages in their careers as well as seeing first-hand the benefits of the mentoring scheme. And now he’s using his experiences to help other, newer, CAs.
“One of the things we’ve been working on is networking events targeted to help new CAs meet some of the high-flying CAs, early in their careers such as the event late last year- we would love to hear from you around the types of events you’d like ICAS to do for you, or how we can help you when making your early career decisions, so please do get in touch.”