Maintaining momentum has been the driving force behind Jessica Leyland’s success, AAT’s Student of the Year, awarded on 5 May at the 2016 AAT Training Provider Awards.
Leyland has broken an AAT record. She completed her qualification in seven months, having been encouraged to become qualified by her employer.
When she started on the course, she was working in a very basic administrative accounts role, essentially just data entry. “Now I understand everything.”
Leyland always wanted to further her studies. She left school with only a handful of GCSEs. In part, that drove her to power through the qualification.
“I enjoyed it so much that it didn’t feel a chore,” she says. “Even if I wasn’t grasping something as quickly as I’d have liked, I still put the hours in. I loved it.”
Leyland approached studying like she would approach joining a gym. As far as she was concerned, if she stopped, she could lose momentum, and it would be hard to get back into it. She didn’t want to risk that scenario, even taking her books with her when she went on a cruise: “It was always at the forefront of my mind,” she says.
It helped that she got plenty of support as she studied: “My tutor, Peter Clarke, was amazing. I must have put him under immense pressure because I was constantly asking him to mark things and he has hundreds of students.”
Since completing the qualification, Leyland has become a MAAT, and has taken on more roles and a lot more responsibility. She has also become treasurer for a fundraising committee, which she uses to practice her manual accounting skills.
Becoming AAT Student of the Year was a very emotional experience for her: “I burst into tears when they announced that I won. The previous winner had such a fantastic story that I was a bit shocked when my name was read out. I’m really honoured and proud.”
Leyland says she is grateful to AAT for opening doors for her: “I know I’ve got the qualification behind me if I want to do something else.”
Mark Rowland is a journalist and former editor of Accounting Technician and 20 magazine.