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Meet the “Rockstar” winner from the Finance Awards Wales

Her boss calls her a rockstar and, at 29, Poppy Vincent has carved out an award-winning career.

In just two and a half years Poppy Vincent has gone from finance assistant to finance manager of UNRVLD, an ambitious and growing digital marketing agency. 

She is now in charge of the day-to-day running of the finance department, managing cash flow, writing high-quality management accounts and assisting with internal projects. Her manager, the chief financial officer of UNRVLD, has described her as “an absolute rockstar”. Her exceptional progress has been supported by home and college study which has earned her AAT qualifications and the prospect of being ACCA qualified very soon.

Poppy has won Accounts Technician of the Year in the Finance Awards Wales. The awards are designed to recognise, attract and invest in the talented finance professionals working in Wales. The awards showcased the best in Finance talent from the experienced finance directors and CFOs who are at the forefront of finance leadership, to the next generation of apprentices and finance managers.

Career progression

Poppy was nominated by her manager two years ago where she was highly commended. As this year’s winner, she has progressed from AAT to ACCA and from college to university. She now manages the accounts for three companies as UNRVLD is currently assimilating two recent company acquisitions. She’s progressed from Finance Assistance to Finance Manager while studying in her own time. 

“Sometimes it can be challenging to study when you work full time, and I am renovating my first house as well so I don’t have time for holidays!” she said.

“You have to be very organised, and you have internal and external deadlines that you have to meet. Over the past two years and nine months we’ve acquired two other companies and opened an office in Lithuania. So there is a lot going on and it is great place to work. The role is challenging but it is very rewarding.”

Poppy’s route into finance

When Poppy left school after A levels she knew she didn’t want to go to university so she did an NVQ Level 2 qualification in business administration and worked in a number of junior admin roles. After gaining her NVQ Level 3 she decided she was ready for a proper role as an administrator.

“A role opened up in finance where they needed help in matching. I really enjoyed. I had never thought about going down this route because I thought you had to be amazing at maths, but actually if you are organised and you like spreadsheets, you will enjoy it.

“I liked the role so much that I thought how can I progress from here and build a career ladder? So I did some temping while I went back to college to study for my AAT qualifications. The temping gave me a lot of experience in different industries.

After this, Poppy was ready for her next big move, and was eager to get more involved in month-end processes.

UNRVLD opportunities

“The role came up with UNRVLD and I didn’t think I would get it but they rang me up when I was driving home from the interview and offered me the job. Now I have just had a promotion. I’ve gone from senior finance assistant to finance manager and I it has worked out really well. Plus the company is growing which is really exciting.”

“If anyone is thinking of accountancy I would really recommend it. Start with AAT because that that does help you in your in your role and helps you understand the processes. Also, you can’t beat on the job training.”

She says the most surprising aspect of her role is that it is definitely not all about numbers. There is a lot of communication involved too.

From runner up to winner

UNRVLD has office in London, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff, Belfast and Lithuania.  Ali Saigar, chief financial manager at UNRVLD and Poppy’s manager, described Poppy as “an absolute rockstar.”

“I nominated Poppy for an award two years ago and she came away with a honourable mention which, whilst it is a great result, does not do justice to the contribution she makes to UNRVLD and to me,” he said.

“I am the CFO of UNRVLD and I won the FD of the year < £25 million award three years ago. UNRVLD has come on leaps and bounds since then. At the time we were a £5 million turnover business with 50 staff in two locations. We’re now aiming to be a £25 million turnover business with 250 staff across eight offices in the UK and Europe.

“I co-led a management buyout with my colleague and business partner Dan Berry who is our CEO, and together we have executed an organic and in-organic growth cycle to get to this point. Poppy joined the business six months prior to the MBO and has been an absolute rockstar throughout this time.

“Poppy’s responsibilities are vast and varied, from managing cash flow to churning out high quality management accounts on a timely basis, to assisting on ad-hoc internal projects. She’s a fast learner and is very organised and conscientious with her roles and responsibilities.

Fast learner

Saigar says he has complete confidence in Poppy’s abilities to manage the day to day operations of the department:

“This enabled me to in-turn focus on fund raising and executing the MBO and managing three acquisition transactions in that time.

“As we grow, the challenges become more varied and complex. Poppy has demonstrated her versatility by adapting well to new members in the team and always demonstrating a great can-do attitude in everything she does.

Having begun her finance studies with AAT Levels 2 to 4, Poppy has gone on to study ACCA at the University of South Wales Newport City Campus.

“Without Poppy in my team I would not have been able to perform my role, and she is therefore a huge asset to me, the department and the company overall. Poppy is also managing to balance and progress her accountancy qualification at University on a part-time basis which also speaks volumes about her ability to get the job done but also her drive to invest in her personal and career development.”

Marianne Curphey is an award-winning financial writer and columnist, and author of the book How Money Works. She worked as City Editor at The Guardian, deputy editor of Guardian online, and has worked for The Times, Telegraph and BBC.

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