Career Q&A with Donna Fletcher - Finance Manager

April 24th, 2024

Career Q&A with Donna Fletcher
Finance Manager at Hamworthy Heating in Poole, Dorset
AAT Qualified & actively studying the ACCA...... soon to be fully qualified!

We are lucky enough to hear Donna's thoughts on her career to date and what it's like studying, whilst working in a busy role.

After graduating from the University of Sheffield with a degree in English Literature & History, Donna embarked on a career in project management. Accountancy didn't cross her mind until the 2008/9 recession when Donna realised she needed a more stable career path. The job centre offered Donna free training on Sage which hooked Donna's interest. To gain valuable experience she started temping for a friend’s business, processing invoices and general bookkeeping. Donna really enjoyed what she learnt and this inspired her to embark on her AAT studies and a career in accountancy. Donna signed up for the AAT course level 2 and sailed through the exams to pass all her levels to fully qualify in AAT.

Donna is currently working towards her ACCA with just four exams left to complete – the end is in sight! Donna is so glad she followed her instincts, as she loves what she does! 

Q1) In terms of your current role – what is your remit?

A1) As a Finance Manager for Hamworthy Heating, I oversee a team of two; an assistant accountant and a credit controller. I am responsible for the day to day operations of the team, ownership of the monthly management reporting process, group inter company reconciliations and I participate to the budgeting process as well as the preparation and facilitation of the audit process. I am a business partner to various departments across the business and I am the Finance lead on new product development projects.

Q2) What challenges in your role have you had to face in the past 18 months?

A2) Last year, my assistant accountant left the business to further her career, but we had a recruitment freeze in place so I had to re-allocate the work, taking on a lot of the tasks myself alongside my usual role. This was a challenging time in terms of workload, as well as studying it was a juggle! I also had to meet the expectations of the wider business. On positive was it enabled me to get ‘hands on’ and fully understand the requirements of the role that I would later recruit for. This meant that when the time came to recruit, I knew exactly what I was looking for in a candidate.

Q3) What path did you take to become an Accountant?

A3) I started with Level 2 AAT, completing my AAT to Level 4, and I am now studying ACCA. I am a strong supporter of the AAT qualification and feel that it has prepared me well for the challenges of ACCA.

Q4) What advice would you give someone embarking on a career on Accountancy?

A4) Firstly start studying AAT as this will really support you in your journey. Secondly, get as much experience as possible. If you are not currently working in Finance the I would urge you to find a role in this profession as this will help consolidate your studies and employers want to see that you understand the subject in real world terms. If this is not possible for you right now, can you consider offering your time as ‘work experience,’ maybe for a charity who in return can start to show you the ropes.

Q5) How do you manage to study ACCA whilst working in a busy Full-Time senior finance role?

A5) I won’t lie, it is very challenging and at times stressful! You have to make sacrifices as outside of a full-time role there is not a lot of spare time. I commit a full day at the weekends for study as well as most evenings after work. However, it is not forever and will be worthwhile in the long run. Plus, there is the little boost each time one exam is passed and out of the way.

Q6) As a Finance Manager, what do you enjoy most in your job?

A6) I enjoy the challenges that regularly come my way and solving problems I am presented with. I also enjoy business partnering with various departments and identifying where I can add value.

Q7) If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would this be?

A7) To start working in and studying Finance earlier! For one thing, my brain would be fresher in my twenties and I would have less family commitments. Having said that, I do feel the wealth of experience I have gained in my previous roles has helped to give me a great understanding of the wider role of Finance in a business. So if you are thinking you are too old to start – you are not!

Q8) When employing staff what do you look for in an individual?

A8) Someone who has the ability and inclination to learn. Whilst I need someone who can understand the basics, if they can demonstrate that they can pick up new information then I can develop them. I also look for someone who is resilient, reliable and resourceful!

Finally, on a lighter note!

Q9) What would you do if you won the lottery?

A9) I would buy a house with stables and a menage, then buy a good few horses to fill them with! I would also like to help my families and friends become financially secure, as well as supporting those who are not from privileged backgrounds get the start they need to make a success of their lives.

Q10) Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?

A10) I would love to be stuck in a lift with Michael McIntyre – I never get bored of watching him and he would certainly make it fun and entertaining!

Q11) How do you relax?

A11) I like to ride horses as well as go walking with my Cavachon, Bella. I also enjoy running and going to the gym. Anything where I am outdoors or active. Plus I am an avid reader, especially psychological thrillers!

Thank you amazing Donna for giving up your valuable time today, hopefully you will continue to inspire others to complete their  accountancy qualifications. Wishing you every success with those last few papers!


April 2024