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Diaries of an oddball accountant – Year 6 – Having that smug feeling & what I’ve done with it!



As you may (or may not) know I am CIMA qualified and I didn’t pass all of my exams 1st time.

My ‘Diaries of an oddball accountant’ is me sharing my highs and lows to the emotional but very rewarding Accounting rollercoaster qualification that I know you guys are on.

Read and use it as a confidence booster (to know you’re not alone) – a motivational story (to prove it’s worth it) – and a fun read (yes, you have permission to laugh at me!)

Over the last six weeks I’ve shared my honest, candid, funny and inspiring six-year accounting journey (yeah sounds ages doesn’t it!).

I’d love to hear what you think and where you are in your journey, leave a comment below or send me an email – hello@prettysuccesfulcareers.co.uk


Having that smug feeling – and what I’ve done with it!

What now, I had passed all of my Accounting exams, I was feeling like a strong confident Accountant, and I had just quit my temp job and secured my first perm qualified role, as Finance Manager!


As you can tell by now, I am a bit of a geek when it comes to CIMA and knowing what I want out of it.


I wanted my letters and I knew I had to get them.


Part of this was to get valuable work experience and completed my Practical Experience Log (PER). And no, you know me by now I didn’t leave it to the last minute.

In fact, I submitted my completed PER the week after I got my TOPCIMA results…

That’s how on the ball and focused I was.


I had heard stories from friends and colleagues on how people had waited years to submit their log and never got around to it. Please don’t be one of those people!

During my five year accounting journey I had a massive focus on my job roles and career, and by now I had five years of solid, strong and senior Management Accounts experience. I was able to write and complete my PER quickly and within all of the requirements.

This didn’t happen by luck (I don’t think many of my life achievements do), this was because a few years ago I researched and planned my missing gaps and focused my work experience to fill them in.


Don’t you dare leave your PER until after your exams – you’re missing a trick!


It was great that I hadn’t passed my exams first time, because a few years ago I might not have had all of the work experience to submit my PER so quickly.


I used the opportunity of every job change and promotion over the last few years to draft my PER and in between sitting and getting my last exam results I wrote it up, cross referenced to the CIMA requirements and simple – all done and dusted!


The best thing about 14th February 2013 is that I became Miss Helen Pretty – ACMA CGMA!

Yes- I became fully qualified and I could not be more proud and smug about it!

What I’ve done next and why

As a qualified accountant (Yeah I say that a lot because I’m so cool!) I get given lots of opportunities with CIMA. Since my exams, I have taken advantage of lots of these opportunities and in my spare time added some excellent ‘branches to my tree’.


I have been a local governor of two school in my local areas – one secondary and one primary. I have been their finance lead and supported with their budgeting and governor controls.


CIMA Mentoring Program

I have also been a mentor on the official CIMA mentoring program, supporting other CIMA students with their studies and career advancement. I mentored around 10 students during this program and loved it, I was passionate about helping them and making a difference and gave them so much of my free time, which they were grateful for, plus I really enjoyed it.


The mentoring involved a variety of things, much more than I realised at the start, which was great.


Some of my mentoring students stories

I mentored Alex for 5 months, to get through his operational CIMA exams. He had found himself in a place were he had failed the same exam a few times and was juggling work, his hobby and studying. We worked on getting him to balance less things at certain times and to focus on one thing at a time. He loved the mentoring and being accountable to himself and me, and he passed his exams and got a great promotion at work.


Ellie and Becky were two of my other mentees who asked for slightly different support. Ellie was doing a presentation in a massive event about her AAT apprenticeship journey, she was really nervous and classed herself as an introvert (sounds very familiar to me!), so we worked on giving a valuable presentation without the nerves and of course she smashed it!


Becky was a mum to 2 girls and had just gone back to work full time. She was finding it tough trying to prioritise anything and wanted to pass her exams but didn’t know where to find the time. We worked together and I encouraged her to focus, plan and commit to her exams if she really wanted to pass them. I know it’s easy for me to say, but I was there to help her, so she knew she had some Accounting support.


Another opportunity was working as a mentor for The Girls Network.

It’s a charity run by a few amazing women where I mentored a young adult, Sadie. She was in year 10 and had joined the program to increase your confidence.

After school once a month I would support and work with Sadie on what she needed. A big thing for her was confidence, and I am super passionate about giving someone else confidence and putting themselves first. We set some goals and ‘homework’ and the transformation was amazing. She joined some after school clubs, got a new group of friends and just felt so much happier and less anxious within herself.

It was such a great journey to watch her over the year.


What am I doing now?

I had spent the last five years mentoring and helping others with their exams, confidence, motivation and so so much more. I loved it and was good at it!

I knew I wanted a new challenge and wasn’t fulfilled in my job at the time, so I had an idea!

I decided to setup my own business! I wanted to coach and support more qualifying accountants and to take my voice and passion to a bigger scale. To show and tell more qualifying accountants that it’s okay to fail, you can still pass and get your letters.

Another one of my big messages is to encourage you guys to keep going, finish what you started and it’s totally worth it!


I am loving coaching qualifying accountants, it feels like I have 2 full time jobs with how busy I am, but I help and support real people on a daily basis and it’s such a great reward to see their exam passes and confidence grow.


And that’s a wrap! The ‘Diaries of an Oddball Accountant’ are finished (Sad face!)

I hope you had loved reading the diaries as much as I have loved writing them!


Here are the links to each year to go back and have a nosey!

Year 1 – Super Keen times!

My Year 2 – ‘Keep going’

Year 3 – ‘How have I not finished yet?!’

The Year 4 – My power year!

Year 5 – Putting CIMA 1st (properly)


I hope the diaries have inspired and motivated you.

I encourage you to book your next exam, keep going and keep your head up!

Please get in touch if you’re interested in having some coaching, here’s a link to my diary for us to jump on a call and get you one massive step closer to exam confidence and success! http://bit.ly/PSCChat


Thank you so much for reading and being part of my business journey! (That’s a long story for another day!)

Helen x

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