Guy Dakin MAAT knows how daunting it can be to change careers, but his varied career history shows that it is possible to be both an accountant and a paramedic.
There aren’t many of the NHS’s accountants who have also worked as paramedics, but Guy Dakin can say just that. His varied career has taken him from finance to the ambulance service and back again, and his AAT qualification has provided him with the confidence to explore.
“By the time I decided to go full-time into the ambulance service, I knew I had my AAT qualification, so it didn’t feel like such a risk. Because I knew that if it didn’t work out for whatever reason, I still had that as a key to help me back through the door into finance.”
A varied career history Dakin wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he left school, but he knew he wanted to be earning. He began working in a bank and started studying the early stages of the banking exams, the BTEC national certificate in business and finance, which took two years.
“Conveniently, that qualification was a way into accountancy as well, and gave me an exemption from the first two years of AAT,” he says. “In those days (this was about 1985) there were three levels to AAT, so I only had to complete the third year. I studied in the evenings at Farnborough College of Technology. A few years later, I was able to tick off enough experience to become a full member of AAT.”
After completing his studies, he eventually moved on from the bank and spent time working for car dealerships – working in accounts payable, accounts receivable, management accounts and reconciling control accounts. When he was in his early twenties, while also still working full-time, Dakin started volunteering as a Special Constable.
“That role was the making of me,” he says. “It really helped me to develop and improve my self-confidence.” Guy enjoyed his work with the police force and wasn’t quite ready to go back to a desk job – then a friend inspired him to join the ambulance service.
“I think my AAT qualification helped to demonstrate my capacity to study for the course ahead of me. That together with my new found self confidence, probably helped them to decide to take me on.”
Dakin worked on emergency ambulances in the Reading area for about five years, starting as a trainee technician and eventually working his way up to paramedic. Achieving his ambulance technician qualification was especially important to him, he explains, because he proved to himself that he could be practical and not just academic.
“It was the best job I’ve ever had. I’m sure my line managers in accountancy wouldn’t mind me saying that. It’s a real privilege to have people turn to you in their time of need, including at those times when they’re going through something they thought would never happen.”
Although the job was rewarding, Dakin eventually realised he didn’t want to be working in the ambulance service forever. He was concerned that night shifts and the physical work involved in the lifting and handling of patients might take a toll, plus he wanted more regular hours so he could spend time with his wife, Carol.
Dakin is passionate about keeping up with his continuing professional development (CPD), and he says his CPD helped him greatly when he was trying to get back into finance, as well as to gain promotions throughout his career.
“I kept up my CPD while in the ambulance service and even took AT magazine out with me in the ambulance to read at quieter times,” Dakin says. “My AAT qualification helped me to be attractive to the next employer. It wasn’t difficult getting back into finance, but it’s hard to replicate the experience and rewards of the ambulance service”.
After working in the private sector for a couple of years, Dakin was able to combine his love for the health service with his financial acumen. He secured a position as a management accountant for the same ambulance service which he served as a paramedic.
“I continue to be employed in the NHS in finance to this day. I currently work for the Berkshire healthcare NHS foundation trust as a senior management accountant.” Dakin also enjoys the additional opportunities his job has provided. He was elected by his colleagues to be a staff governor, which involves representing the interests of staff at a board level.
“That post has exceeded my expectations,” he notes. “It’s very interesting and challenges you to speak out on behalf of your colleagues at a high level on a wide range of important matters.
“My clinical experience helps me to see the challenges of the NHS from a wider perspective.”
AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.