How volunteering helped me on my journey to President

Saturday 1 – Friday 7 June is Volunteers’ Week in the UK – a chance to celebrate the contributions that millions of people make across the land on a daily basis. 

Today we hear how volunteering can accelerate your career from Vernon Anderson who is AAT’s 38th President. Volunteering has helped him develop various skills which accelerated his career path to the top. There are currently nearly 400 volunteers across AAT’s 50 regional branches. 


I took AAT qualifications back in 2004, to help my then-role as a public sector finance officer.

I’ve been a council member of AAT for several years as a result, but it has been my participation in AAT branch events that has made the most difference, both to myself and to others in the accounting industry. In total I have spent around ten years being involved within the branch network.

Volunteering = Upskilling 

I am naturally a shy person, and my reason for volunteering was twofold. Partly, it was to help develop my interpersonal skills in networking with like minded people. In addition, I have always wanted to make a difference, as I believe AAT is an excellent organisation that really supports its members, and provides so many opportunities for students to change – not only their careers but often their lives.

It was not long after my second involvement with AAT’s Bristol branch before I took on the role of Chairman, which worked well as I was also a chief executive of a town council and had a similar role. I wanted to use my business skills to help the local branch grow, but it also helped me personally to improve my networking and presentation skills.

My volunteer work has included:

  • Meeting and greeting members
  • Booking speakers and venues
  • Preparing a yearly schedule of subjects
  • Delegating roles to committee members
  • Giving presentations at local colleges to encourage students to become involved in accountancy and dealing with members’ questions.

Volunteer involvement provides so many opportunities both with their career and also personally. They would gain many new skills and hopefully also make many friends in the process. 

Making local connections 

Attending a local branch event, if your professional body offers these, is a great place to start. Individuals can make new friends, swap knowledge and ideas, keep their CPD up-to-date by learning new skills, and sometimes even find employment. Volunteers also often benefit from free support and training to help develop and manage their own committees throughout branch networks.

The enthusiasm of the AAT Bristol branch’s committee was enough to convince me to join them. Having visited so many other branches it is so uplifting and inspiring to see how so many volunteers freely give their time to help others in delivering the AAT’s charitable objective of promoting education within the bookkeeping and accountancy sector.

AAT is running a content programme designed to help finance professionals upskill for the future. These skills include communication and leadership skills which Vernon Anderson boosted during his volunteering at AAT branch events. Find out more on the #AATPowerUp Skills programme here.

The content team are the owners of AAT Comment.

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