Qualified at 16, Senior Finance Team Leader at 24

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We are constantly impressed by the commitment and hard work of AAT members. Nilima Bhagi is AAT’s youngest ever qualifier. Living in Botswana, Nilima always knew she wanted a career in accounting. At 15 she started the AAT qualification and with determination and focus, had completed it by 16. It is now seven years on and we checked back in with Nilima to find out where her career has taken her and what advice she has for other students.

Where are you working now?

I work for a well renowned university in Botswana as a senior team leader in the Finance department.

What does your job involve on a day to day basis?

My work involves supervising and guiding a team of nine people. I make sure that all controls and procedures are maintained and followed. I also ensure that KPIs set for the OFM (Office of Finance and Management) are achieved on a monthly basis. I prepare monthly management reports that are essential for decision making. I also conduct variance analysis for all faculties and support departments and I ensure smooth and efficient running of operations in the accounts department.

What is your favourite part of working in finance and accountancy?

I think my favourite part of my job is preparing management reports and final accounts, as it aids in decision making. I like planning, budgeting and reviewing results.

What is it like working in a senior position?

Indeed it is like flying where the sky is the limit. It is like a dream come true but at the same time the responsibility and accountability also increases. I enjoy each and every task that I do on a day to day basis. There are many challenges as well such as increased accountability, the responsibility of training juniors, working late hours and of course less time for personal things.

You also look after your father’s business and are studying ACCA. How do you fit it all in?

It sometimes becomes too hectic – handling dad’s business, studying and working full time but I am blessed with very understanding parents, friends and work colleagues who always support me and encourage me to do better. It can also mean sleepless nights when I’m trying to get everything in order but I enjoy it and that’s why I don’t mind fitting it in all together. My achievements are my motivation.

You passed all your AAT levels the first time, in only a year. Do you have advice for students about how to study better?

First of all, AAT learners should not call themselves students as they are taking their first step to becoming professionals, so they should feel like professionals. They should have a good attitude and confidence. They must start learning by analysing and applying their studied material in real life. I recommend making a schedule for study and analysing and practising past papers before exams.

You are now studying ACCA – how long do you have before you qualify?

I have received exemptions in ACCA based on my previous qualifications. I am left with three professional level papers to complete after I cleared two. It was difficult to study for two papers while working full time but I managed it. I am hoping to finish by June 2016.

What would you have become if you hadn’t studied AAT and accountancy?

I cannot think of any other course as a first step for becoming a chartered accountant, other than AAT. So I would have been very unfortunate if I hadn’t known about AAT. I have always been naturally inclined towards accountancy and management studies, so I don’t think I would have chosen any other profession.

What are your plans for the future?

I am a professional and for professionals, learning never ends. It is very essential to remain updated. So after ACCA, I would like to complete an MBA.

What is your motto for life?

My motto is to be efficient in everything I do, whether its home or work.

Dale Rolfe is AAT's Content Manager.

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