If you’ve read about the graduate programme on our careers website then you may have come across the following phrase…”You’ll work with some really exciting clients across a variety of sectors and could be leading clients and assignments in your second year.” When I was applying I read this and thought that this sounded like a really exciting prospect – I was impressed by the rapid level of responsibility, however I don’t think I really understood the true meaning of leading clients and assignments. Fast-forward two years and here I am, in my second year and about to start leading my first assignment tomorrow morning. This is my story of what leading an assignment really means and how I have prepared for my change in role.
One of the main things that I have learned through the last 18 months of being a trainee is that the trainee role constantly changes and that I am always being challenged and discovering new aspects of my job. For the first few months I would often work on a job for a week, maybe two weeks, and that would be the end of my contribution to that assignment. The skills that I required were mainly focused on building a good relationship with the client and learning the basic technical skills of auditing. However within the last few weeks I have found that being in charge of an assignment requires development of both organisational skills and communication skills both with both colleagues and the client.
Before I set out tomorrow to lead the audit, there have been many weeks of work ‘behind the scenes’ in preparation. Planning an audit includes meetings with the rest of the audit team (the manager and the partner) to discuss any issues they are aware of, meetings with the client to find out what has happened during the year and to decide what work we have to do as well as co-ordinating work required by other departments such as tax. During the time that I have been planning this work I have also being at college, taken exams (which I passed!) and worked on other clients so a careful balancing act is required.
Although this hasn’t been easy I have really enjoyed learning more about the client and gaining a much fuller picture of the story behind the numbers. As much as I like getting stuck into the numbers (releasing my inner maths geek!) what I enjoy more is having the chance to discuss the client’s business with them and finding out what more experienced colleagues know about the client. A lot of my time is spent working with charities (which this client is) and I love hearing about what they do to help people and the new projects that they have in the pipeline.
During the next week, when we conduct the audit, I will be the main point of contact for the client and I will be making the day-to-day decisions about how I organise my work and that of my colleague (a fellow trainee who started last summer). I will also provide some coaching to the other trainee whom I am working with, which adds a further dimension to my role. Despite feeling that I have a lot of responsibility I also know that I have support from both the manager and the partner for anything I am unsure of and I have already had plenty of supportive help and advice from both of them already.
Over the last few weeks I have learnt so much about leading an audit and I now feel prepared and confident about the week ahead. I am hoping that my planning over the last few weeks will lead to a smooth audit and prove to me that leading an audit in my second year is a goal that I can successfully achieve.