The 1 thing that all successful accountants have in common

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What do all successful accountants have in common? Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Through CPD, or ongoing learning, members can improve their technical, personal and professional skills, while also ensuring that their industry knowledge is up to date. Keeping a CPD record can give members a real competitive edge when it comes to landing the best jobs, and can act as a real confidence boost as your knowledge and skills expand.

The AAT CPD prize is given out every year to a member who has demonstrated a serious commitment to personal and professional development. Using the range of CPD materials available to them, CPD prize applicants submit their CPD records and take part in an interview where they present what CPD has meant to them, and their unique approach to professional development.

This year’s winner: Miranda Thewlis

This year’s winner is Miranda Thewlis MAAT, who harnessed a range of learning methods – from podcasts and webinars to attending branch events – to help modernize the practice she runs with her partner.

“There’s such a lot on offer from AAT, it’s one of the things that I think is great. But they also liked my honesty in the evaluation  – I think that was one of the things that stood out to them. Where I felt I hadn’t achieved my aims with the CPD, I would say so. I tried to modify what I was trying to achieve in that particular learning area.”

Miranda’s primary aim with her professional development plan was to better understand new technologies and the impacts they are having on accountancy practices.

“Accountancy is changing all the time, and the landscape that we’re working in is changing,” she says. “We do need to align ourselves with that, change our priorities in terms of training and move with the times.”

How have previous winners fared since winning the prize? We spoke to four CPD prize recipients about the benefits of CPD and how the prize has helped them professionally and personally.

Georgia Moss, 2014 winner:

“I work for a multi-academy trust, and the biggest thing I took from winning the CPD prize was more confidence in public speaking and making presentations. I’ve been contributing more often in board meetings, and because part of my job is to convert more schools to enter into our trust, I often go to the schools and explain how their roles will change and what we can offer.

“I’m definitely getting a lot more satisfaction out of my job since winning the prize. My bosses are much more willing to put their resources into helping me reach the next level.”

Sarah Knight, 2013 winner:

“I have been asked many times by AAT to comment on my prize and my approach to CPD and each time, I feel incredibly humbled. I feel AAT members should enter the CPD prize to show others the innovative ways in which CPD can be undertaken and how their drive can effect, motivate and inspire others.

“After winning the CPD prize in 2013, I continued my studies with the ACCA and passed F4 Law in 2014. Winning boosted both my professional and personal confidence; I felt I could complete new challenges. In 2015 I completed Tough Mudder (a 10-12-mile obstacle race devised by British Special Forces).”

Diana Cornford, 2011 joint winner:

“I am a member in practice and have to ensure my knowledge and skills are up to date with legislative changes, and for any queries from clients who are aware that I take CPD seriously. I find the branch meetings most useful in updating my CPD, along with contacting the helplines of my professional bodies. Colleagues also play an important part in reassuring me that I’m on the right track.”

Melanie Philpott, 2011 joint winner:

“When I won the CPD prize I was going through redundancy. Not only did the award look great on my CV, but it was also a massive confidence boost. I went on to use the CPD cycle at the time to help me identify and acquire the skills I needed to get a new job and some of the CPD Prize money helped me with that.

“I am now the team leader in a finance department and I used my CPD recently to develop my people management skills. I have also just started the final module of my ten-year Open University degree (the CPD Prize money helped me with that too) and I am studying towards ACCA exams as well.”

For Miranda’s full story, read the latest edition of Accounting Technician magazine, free for all AAT members and available online at or can be read on your phone or tablet with our free app for iOS or Android. Simply log in using your membership number to read the new issue.


Mark Rowland is a journalist and former editor of Accounting Technician and 20 magazine.

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