Become an accountant and travel the world

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Business travelling has its perks. You never know who you might meet, what skills you might acquire or what new horizons await. AAT qualified, Rob Jones, has travelled the world as an accountant. It could be you next.  

I have come into accountancy in an unconventional way.

I left school at 16 and couldn’t afford to go to university or college. To get by, I started working in construction. Whilst working in construction, I became ill as a result of the hazardous substances that I worked with on a daily basis. This is when I realised I wanted a career change.

I started doing data entry at my mum’s company. The Financial Director of the company noticed that I had a good aptitude for accountancy and took me under her wing. She recommended AAT as a flexible and respectable route into accountancy.

There was no looking back.

I started doing my AAT Accounting Qualification at the age of 21, at a local college through a government initiative that fully funded my studying. I attended college in the evenings and worked during the day. Whilst studying, I secured a job as an accounts assistant with a building company. Similarly, the Financial Director recognised my abilities and passion for the job. He showed me the ropes and supported me whilst I finished my AAT Accounting Qualification. I completed it within three years and passed everything first time round.

Accountancy lets me travel the world.

I applied for a job at Alstom, a multinational company which holds interests in the electricity generation and rail transport markets, as I knew there were opportunities to travel. I have always wanted to travel and I knew accountancy was a career that would offer me that opportunity.

At 26 I became a Financial Director.

I flew out to Zurich and met the Vice President of Alstom. He offered me the Financial Director job for the Madrid offices that had half a billion euro turnover. I could hardly contain my excitement.

As my reputation and expertise grew within the company, I was offered the Financial Director position in their Netherlands subsidiary. This was yet another big opportunity as it meant I was given the chance to explore new horizons.

It was a beautiful journey. I got to see a lot of the world, learn about other cultures and make friends for life along the way. I was always travelling to different factories, different offices all over Europe. I think it’s a part of accountancy that many don’t appreciate. You can do accountancy and lead an exciting lifestyle. The sky’s really the limit!

I decided to start up my own business.

I literally came up with the idea to open up my own recruitment firm, RJF, whilst riding my bike, that’s when I get my best ideas. I often ask myself what the hell I am doing!

A year ago, I left Alstom and came back to the UK because my wife and I had a baby. Part of my role as a Finance Director involved recruiting and training finance teams for a mixture of onshore and offshore projects. I left the Netherlands equipped with recruitment experience and I found myself at the other side of the fence, as a candidate trying to find a job in the UK using various recruitments agencies.

Thanks to my extensive business travels, I have built a rich networking system with a lot of connections over the years. This helped massively when it came to launching my business and it’s been going strong for 8 months now. While I can’t deny the financial benefits are very alluring, hearing the positive feedback from my clients is equally fulfilling.

Call me the accountant, entrepreneur and drummer.

It was my 14th birthday and my Nan gave me £70 as a present. I used this money to buy my first drum set as music has always been a passion of mine. I taught myself to play and since 2010 I drum for the band Empire Signal. Not to boast or anything, but we now record in the same studio as The Charlatans with their producer on a weekly basis.

Many wonder where I find the time for everything but I enjoy being busy.

Frankly, I am not the type of person you would want to accompany you on a relaxing beach holiday.

Photo: Rob Jones, MAAT.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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