How volunteering can benefit you and your career

AAT is a diverse professional community – that offers its 150,000 members much more than qualifications.

Whether via your local branch, at the Member’s Assembly, or as an elected member of AAT Council, getting more involved is a great way to enhance your skills, meet new people, share experiences, and receive support when you need it.

Volunteering at an AAT branch

The branch network consists of 49 branches across the country, plus an international branch in Botswana.

Run by some 350 volunteers, it offers support and opportunities to AAT members, wherever they live. But the volunteers themselves are arguably the biggest winners, according to AAT Council member and long-term branch volunteer Helen Geatches.

“Becoming AAT qualified changed my life, so when I realised how much value branches offered members I was keen to get involved,” she said. “I found it really rewarding and learned a lot about AAT.

“Being on the branch committee also helped me become more confident and was really good for my interpersonal skills.”

What’s involved?

The lion’s share of the work undertaken by branch volunteers involves organising free events to help local members attain qualifications and maintain their continuing professional development (CPD). “Volunteering at a branch mainly involves planning events, but the workload is shared so it is not too onerous,” added Helen, a director at Stapletons Accountants Limited.

Potential roles include Treasurer, Secretary, and Student Liaison Officer – a post that helped former volunteer Russell Hague move into a new career. “Doing that role gave me great networking opportunities and even got me into teaching,” Russell said.

“I contacted Sheffield College to encourage it to engage with the local AAT branch and I am now a lecturer here.” Overall, it’s a fantastic way to learn new skills and gain experience.

“The skills you build up volunteering in the branch network include event planning, hosting, and networking,” said former Chair of the London branch David Frederick.

“If you enjoy public speaking, you can even do some of that. “You also meet a wide range of people and end up doing things that take you out of your comfort zone, such as finding speakers for branch events. “It’s very confidence-building while attending the free branch events is a great way to keep up with your CPD.”

Keen to get started?

Contact your local AAT branch or email the Branch Network team – branches@aat.org to get involved.

Taking part in the Members’ Assembly

Created last year to provide a voice for the wider AAT membership, the new Members’ Assembly provides feedback to the AAT Council on policy issues and matters of wider concern. 

What’s involved?

Hosted by an AAT Council member, Members’ Assembly meetings are held twice a year in London or other cities throughout the UK.

“Taking part in the Members’ Assembly could be seen as a step between volunteering at branch level and standing for the Council,” said David, who is also managing partner at Marcus Bishop Associates and Vice President of AAT Council.

“It gives you a voice and will afford you a greater insight into the workings of AAT.”

Keen to get started?

Applications to take part in the Members’ Assembly are currently closed but will be reopened later this year.

Look out for news about this in the Accounting Technician magazine.

Standing for AAT Council

AAT Council is made up of 20 independent and elected members and has the overall responsibility for establishing and overseeing AAT’s strategic direction.  Joining it is the best way to really understand and give back to the AAT community.

“Being on AAT Council has given me a much greater understanding of how AAT works and what it does,” David said. “AAT is like a family that offers opportunities for people with a diverse range of backstories. So it is great to be able to contribute to that.”

What’s involved?

Whether elected or independent (chosen by the council), each AAT Council member serves a three-year term, after which he or she can be re-elected two more times.

To be eligible to stand for the Council, you must be an AAT member (MAAT/FMAAT) and have the support of four other members.

For Helen, who is now nearing the end of the maximum nine-year tenure, being elected was a big confidence boost. “It took me about three years to pluck up the courage to stand for the Council, but being elected was a great feeling,” she said.

“There are four main Council meetings every year, but it doesn’t take up too much time overall. “I definitely feel I’ve gained more than I’ve given and would encourage other AAT members interested in getting more involved to go for it.”

In summary

Getting more involved with the AAT community as a whole can be good for your career as well as your general wellbeing.

It’s a great way to widen your horizons, learn new skills, and build strong relationships with like-minded professionals – both in your local area and further afield.

Further reading:

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