Jane Scott Paul has announced her retirement after 27 years with AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians). Due to leave at the end of March Global Banking & Finance Review spoke with Jane about the AAT and her career.
With the membership growth of AAT under your guidance to 125,000 individuals we would like to ask you about how the organisation has helped and influenced people and organisations? How would you say the AAT has helped in developing its members?
The important thing about AAT is that its qualifications are open to all without barriers. We therefore provide accessible opportunities for people to develop their skills and improve their career prospects. This openness is reflected in the diversity of our membership. We attract school leavers, women returning to work after bringing up children, people changing career direction in middle age. Our youngest student is 14 and our oldest 80+.
What areas has AAT helped with training programs for members?
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We have a core accounting qualification which develops the skills needed from entry level to middle management level. We offer AAT Access for people considering a career in accounting, as well as bookkeeping qualifications. We are also continuing to develop a range of options to enable people to increase and broaden their skills.
What other support does AAT provide to the development and support of accounting technicians worldwide?
We offer a wide range of support to the AAT membership. For those who are students in training, we provide a comprehensive range of e-learning modules and self tests to complement their training courses. We enable students to take practice tests in preparation for formal assessment. For fully qualified members, AAT has a wide range of on-line resources to enable them to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. We have a lively Branch network for those who want to meet other members face to face. And we use social media to help the membership engage with AAT and with each other. A key part of being a professional is that you are bound by a code of professional ethics. We help our members understand their ethical obligations and deal with situations which are challenging.
How has the profile of the organisation been improved since your time with them?
The organisation I joined 27 years ago was small and had only been established for a short time which meant that were relatively unknown. Happily we now have much more profile and public recognition. AAT courses are available all over the UK and in other parts of the world. Employers demand AAT qualifications and our members are recognised and valued as competent employees. We have a thriving cohort of licensed members in practice who offer services and support to small and medium sized enterprises.
How has your global influence grown?
AAT’s global profile has increased significantly. In 2012, AAT became the first accounting technician body to become a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) which was evidence of our global progress. AAT is doing innovative work in Southern Africa, the Gulf and in India where we have just launched the first mobile skills MOOC.
What have you found most gratifying about your career and most challenging?
The most gratifying aspect of my career has been to lead an organisation which changes people’s lives for the better. Every year we run award ceremonies for newly qualified members to receive their certificates. The participants demonstrate the transforming power of education and skills to build self-respect and ambition. It is also satisfying to know how much difference our members make to the effective management of the finances of organisations of all sizes and types across the economy. As a Chief Executive the period since the global economic crisis of 2008 has been challenging. The scale and nature of the recession was unprecedented and meant that we had to work hard and smart to keep the organisation and the services we offer to the membership flourishing. We increased our career development support in recognition of the fact that many AAT members had to change jobs and so we felt we were helping them. Happily we now seem to be through the worst and it is a good time for me to hand over to my successor, Mark Farrar to take AAT to a new level.