All about Eve: Finding purpose with AAT

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How Eve Jones FMAAT built a fulfilling career in accountancy.

If ever there was someone who gets stuck in, it’s Eve Jones FMAAT. In February, the AAT tutor at Birmingham Metropolitan College and Chair at the AAT Birmingham Branch was awarded the AAT Inspiration Award, part of the AAT’s first ever Impact Awards, which recognises everyday people who do extraordinary things.

The accolade was greatly deserved: it’s hard to find someone as passionate about AAT as Eve. She’s AAT’s biggest advocate: full of energy and enthusiasm for the organisation she’s worked with for over 30 years as an experienced accountant, lecturer and now chair of her local branch.

For Eve, receiving the award was the “proudest moment” of her career. “To have that acknowledgement from AAT, that people believe in me, that was something so special and wonderful,” she says. “But everything I’ve done, I’ve done it almost without thinking – you get up in the morning and you want to do your best, to inspire and help others. At the end of the day, you feel that you spread some goodwill.”

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Explorer, financial controller, teacher

Eve’s track record and experience are as impressive as they’re diverse. She’s lived on nearly every continent, in countries as far afield as Lebanon, the Ivory Coast and Venezuela, and is fluent in five languages – English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Armenian.

Eve’s worked as an accountant and financial controller for several automotive manufacturing companies including a Japanese company, in addition to setting up a computerised accounting system in England and then, as company director, expanding to France to establish a branch office to supply Toyota.

And then, in 2014, she was asked to teach at a local college. So, she completed her PGCE and started on a new path. Since then, she’s been a lecturer at several local colleges across the West Midlands.

Finding a path

“I discovered AAT when it was relatively new – it had only been going for 10 years and not many people had heard of it then, but AAT’s ethos set it apart from other accountancy bodies in its accessible approach to the profession,” she explains. “From the moment I came across it, I’ve never looked back. I love AAT. It’s grown from a fledgling company to a worldwide organisation. There are students and qualified members from all over the world, of so many different nationalities, it’s so exciting. AAT opens so many doors – when you have an AAT qualification the world really is your oyster. It opened doors for me – and helped me find my path.”   

Eve came across AAT almost by accident. Her husband set up an export company and needed an accountant. In her research, Eve found AAT and decided to start a qualification. The idea of becoming an accountant herself really appealed to her.

“I loved the idea right from the start,” she recalls. “I’ve always loved numbers, so it just made sense. My father used to own a casino in the Middle East, and he never used a calculator when he was number crunching. He liked to give me sums to work out in my head, so that way of working was totally ingrained. Mental arithmetic keeps you alive and kicking.”  

Inspiring others

It was a perfect match. Eve says she’s loved “every minute” of her accountancy roles, yet it wasn’t until she got into teaching accountancy after years of working in the industry that she believes she really found her niche: inspiring others to succeed.

“When students come to you after they’ve qualified to tell you they’re now running their own business or working in a successful company, you wouldn’t believe how beautiful it is. There is no better accolade you can get: helping someone find their feet and making a success. I just love it.”

Eve estimates she’s taught over 700 students since she first starting. And as AAT Birmingham branch chair, she’s responsible for organising events and networking opportunities, to bring together, support and inspire both AAT students and professional members alike.

Paying it forward

For Eve, playing such an active role within AAT is a way of saying thank you. She was initially a branch member, helping with the marketing and social media before she was invited to become chair in 2020. At the time, the branch was at risk of closing following by the sudden relocation of her predecessor which had thrown everything into turmoil. But members voted for her to fill the gap – and she accepted the role, at least on a temporary basis.

“I decided I’d do it for a little while to help out, but I really got into the role. I became more enthusiastic, recruited more members and organised regular events including online sessions during the pandemic to keep up momentum. We’ve had all kinds of interesting and amazing speakers who talk on a variety of topics – both students and members get a lot out of it.”

Eve has achieved a lot over the course of her financial career, but it’s not just the academic and business achievements which make Eve stand out: it’s her energy and philosophy – and her desire to inspire.

“I’m a very optimistic person and I see natural goodness in everyone,” Eve explains. “There’s so much unhappiness in the world, so it’s good to bring some light and positivity in. For me, it’s all about thinking ‘let’s see how we can make this worthwhile?’ then you go and do it. That’s what I always try and bring to everyone I meet: colleagues, friends, students. If I smile at you, you’re going to smile right back.”

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Annie Makoff is a freelance journalist and editor.

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