Tutor profile: Emma Tollan
Tutor Emma Tollan teaches ABS and PAR subjects and here she takes the time to explain why accountancy and teaching have always been close to her heart, and what opportunities are to be found on a training contract.
The teaching bug bit early
I studied accounting from standard grade Scotland (GCSE) at school and it was one of my favourite subjects alongside maths. I always loved maths and wanted to be a maths teacher as I enjoyed helping my friends when they were struggling with any aspects of maths or accounting.
I left school a year early to go to University but when it was time to apply for Universities, there was an oversupply of teachers and no teaching jobs. As a result, I chose to apply to do an accounting degree at Strathclyde University in Glasgow.
Salient advice from a CA
Once I had finished University, there seemed to be a natural career path that the majority of accounting students follow - join a professional services firm and do the ICAS qualification.
I interned with PwC and succeeded in getting a graduate job with them once I left University - this included PwC helping us through our CA qualification.
It sounded like a very interesting career choice and I liked that you were not limited to ‘one area’.
As well as it being a ‘natural’ career path, I was keen to do the ICAS qualification as I had the opportunity to speak with a local accountant who is also a CA with ICAS. He explained the opportunities that being an accountant with a CA qualification had brought him throughout the years, resulting in him having his own accounting practice.
It sounded like a very interesting career choice and I liked that you were not limited to ‘one area’- within accounting there are endless routes to follow.
The depth of experience from working with PwC
I joined PwC within the audit department and cannot underestimate how much I learned throughout my three and a half years in audit, in both technical knowledge as well as softer skills, such as leading teams and client meetings, project management, networking and becoming a more confident person.
I decided that I definitely wanted to pursue a career in teaching and therefore applied to the Learning and Development department with PwC.
Although I did learn a lot, I decided that audit was not for me in the long term. At PwC, I became involved in tutoring new graduates and summer interns in classroom-based courses and really enjoyed this. I decided that I definitely wanted to pursue a career in teaching and therefore applied to the Learning and Development department with PwC, with the intention of obtaining more educational based experience, which would hopefully help me get a job as a lecturer at ICAS.
I succeeded in getting a secondment in London within this department, however, a lecturing job at ICAS came up before I started my secondment, therefore I applied for the job and am now a lecturer at ICAS!
Personal benefits and boons of the CA qualification
I think being a CA, in general, is such a great achievement. It takes a lot of work and studying in order to get there but it is well worth it. There is a lot of respect for the CA qualification and having it opens so many doors. Some of my colleagues from PwC moved into industry with interesting roles and others have moved to Miami, London and Australia.
I understand what students are going through, having recently been through the exams myself.
The main benefit that the CA qualification has brought to my life so far, is managing to get a job as a lecturer! I understand what students are going through, having recently been through the exams myself, therefore I think this helps with my lecturing style and I try to give my own personal tips for studying also!
Advice for students
The main thing I would say to students is that the ICAS qualification is not easy, although it is definitely worth it in the end. The exams are really only a few weeks of your life, therefore, I would say to just get your head down for this time. The studying is worth it in the end when you are finally a CA!
Tell us about your special non-CA talents!
In my spare time, I love to bake. My speciality when I worked at PwC was to bake truffles for audit teams. I was always being asked to make truffles to help with team morale during busy times! I now like to make and decorate cupcakes in addition to other cakes and think my fellow ICAS colleagues seem to enjoy these (or so they say!).
I also like to go to gym classes after work and in addition, although I do not go as regularly now, I enjoy indoor climbing on the weekends. I also play the violin, however I focus more on the Scottish traditional aspect of the music, rather than the classical side!