Name: Dave Weatherall
Degree/university: 2.2 in Mathematics with finance from the University of Leeds
Year of graduation: 2004
Occupation: Finance officer for Siemens. I’m on placement at the moment, where my more specific role is reporting analyst
What do you do in your job?
I work in a reporting team, which gathers the information required to produce month-end reports for the business as a whole. It’s our job to pull everything together at a high level so that everyone in the business knows how everything is going and they can make more informed business decisions.
To get the data that we need, we send out templates, which get filled in by different areas of the business. My team then populates the figures in the templates before sending them out to the businesses for review and any adjustments. After that, we upload them onto a system that our head offices in Germany uses so that it can get the reports out. Among the many people I liaise with is the tax department, to make sure figures are correct.
What was your motivation in applying?
Siemens has a good graduate scheme, and I liked the idea of a placement programme because you gain wide knowledge of industry sectors and of the business as a whole. There is a lot of potential further down the line to move countries or even continents, which also appealed to me. There is a relaxed culture here, despite German companies often being perceived in the opposite way. Finally, I wanted to do the CIMA exams, which Siemens allows and which I am currently studying for.
What did the application process involve?
It took quite a while. First, there was an online application process, with a lot of open-ended questions – for example about experiences in my life that I felt reflected a certain quality or skill. Then there was a half-hour phone interview, which provided an opportunity to expand on some of my answers. This was followed by a face-to-face interview with someone from personnel and a senior manager, as well as a role-play exercise focusing on a meeting with a customer. Once I got through that, there was an online maths-competency test. Because I passed that, I was invited to a selection day which consisted of an individual presentation, a sit-down interview with personnel and senior management, and a team-working exercise involving Lego. Finally, there was a team discussion and presentation, and another maths competency test.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I like meeting and talking to people, and building good working relationships with them. I like the exposure to senior management, which isn’t something you’d get in other graduate functions. I also like the team ethic and the opportunities to learn. I’m particularly enjoying gaining my CIMA qualification.
Most challenging part of your job?
It’s a steep learning curve, and I’ve had to think a lot on your feet a lot. Because I had no previous accounting knowledge, the first month or so was difficult. Also, we do have a lot of deadlines to meet.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
If you’re thinking of applying to a graduate scheme, don’t forget to research the culture of the businesses you apply for. It can have a massive impact on how much you enjoy where you work and what you actually get to do. I’d also advise people to be prepared to work hard, because that’s the only way up. Be sure to have good time-management skills, or you’ll wind up working very long hours. And don’t be afraid to ask questions, as it’s the only way to get on.
Corporate finance is the sexiest role in accountancy and financial services, according to Vera Sabeva, head of the corporate finance faculty at ICAEW (the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales).
"There are opportunities all over the world, and the sky’s the limit in terms of opportunities for those who qualify. But it’s a very competitive industry, where only the fittest survive," she says.
A career in corporate finance involves helping a company find money to run the business, grow the business, make acquisitions, plan for its financial future and manage any cash on hand.
Typical employers include investment banks, accountancy firms, private equity houses, venture capitalists, law firms, corporate finance boutiques, and private and public businesses. Starting salaries are up to Â£35,000, plus bonuses. ICAEW has just launched a new corporate finance qualification, which it hopes will become one of the industry benchmark.