The 2016 AAT Training Provider Awards took place on 5 April, celebrating learners and teachers of AAT’s accounting qualifications.
Amongst them was Tom Brinsley, a 20-year-old AAT Level 3 student from York who, in a category filled with hugely inspiring nominees, won the award for Distance Learner of the Year 2016.
Brinsley, studying with Home Learning College, showed exceptional dedication to his studies whilst also juggling an exciting, yet demanding job as Business Analytics Executive at Nestle.
It may not come as a surprise to hear that Brinsley is extremely dedicated. He leaves for his five hour-round daily commute to Nestle Headquarters at 6am and arrives home at 8pm. Tom fits his studies in during his journey and at weekends. Due to Tom’s commitment to his profession and work ethic, Nestle has agreed to fund the rest of Tom’s AAT studies which he aims to finish next year. Then he will begin the path to chartered status.
“I feel so overwhelmed and honoured to have won this award. Studying my AAT qualification with Home Learning College has changed my life. It is awfully hard to be both ambitious and successful yet not want to follow an academic, further education path.If it wasn’t for the opportunities offered by AAT, I would not be able to follow my dreams and have belief that I will achieve the accounting career I have set my heart on.”
A focus on career and study
The flexibility of studying online has allowed Tom to focus on his career at the same time.
“I needed a way of studying that wouldn’t impact my career in a negative way and studying online means I can study whenever suits me best. The flexibility that the Virtual Learning Campus offers is perfect for me. By having recorded material I can essentially take a lesson as many times as I need to in order to have perfect clarity and all the online community forums where you can chat and share experiences with fellow students means you don’t feel like you are studying on your own.”
Brinsley’s drive to learn comes from his early mistakes. He didn’t take school seriously, he says.
“I feel like I squandered that time. It wasn’t until I was halfway through college that I realised what I wanted and how badly I wanted to make sure that I don’t take things for granted any more.”
Even though I had the option to study an honours degree through distance learning, I knew that I would eventually need to study towards a recognised accountancy qualification. My AAT qualification gives me the option to tailor my education to my desired career path.”
Brinsley is currently working in analytics, but looking to move into a more financial role. He started the AAT qualification while working at Nestlé to expand his skillset and boost his chances of taking another step up the ladder. He worked three jobs before he got the opportunity to work at Nestlé, and once he got his foot in the door (with a role in the HR department), it didn’t take long before he was hopping between departments onto bigger and better jobs.
“I never really took my current position as a place to stop,” he explains. “I’ve always looked at what I need to do to get to the next level or to learn something new.”
Brinsley is not only driven to succeed, but also to help others as well. He has applied to become a voluntary school governor, so that he can talk to students and encourage them to avoid making the mistakes he did. Now he’s AAT’s Distance learner of the Year, Brinsley feels that all his hard work has been vindicated.
“It never really clicked until my name was read out. But it feels incredible to hear everything I’ve been through from up on the stage. It puts everything into perspective.”
Mark Rowland is a journalist and former editor of Accounting Technician and 20 magazine.