Name: James Pritchard, 26
Degree: Economics (2:1), University of Hull, Masters in Economics and Finance, University of York
Chartered Body: ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)
For someone who still hadn’t decided on a career when he graduated, James Pritchard couldn’t believe it when he was announced the 2005 Trainee Accountant of the Year by the industry magazine, Pass. "They told me I had a broad range of experience and that I was very good both technically and commercially," says James. Indeed, he is testament to the fact that accounting is no longer just about bean counting. "I’m doing my training with Centrica and my current role involves working for our downstream business British Gas, where I support their marketing, propositions and retention development. So when they are trying to develop new products, win new customers or retain old ones, it’s my job to provide the financial support for that. It’s really stimulating."
Having gained a 2.1 in economics from the University of Hull in 2001, James did a summer internship with HSBC in commercial and corporate banking. "That made me realise I wanted to work for a large organisation, but to help me work out exactly what role, I decided to do a masters in economics and finance at the University of York."
It was there that he concluded accountancy is a good entry into business, that it is challenging and varied and provides excellent opportunities to work internationally.James’ next step was to pick out a handful of companies he liked the sound of from the Times Top 100 Graduate Recruiters. ‘I wanted to work in energy and managed to get onto Centrica’s scheme,’ he says.Usually, trainees at Centrica do three 12-month placements. "But I did about five or six shorter ones," says James, who joined the firm in September 2002.
"Now, I’ve moved into a more challenging roles than the previous ones and it’s my first step towards a commercial role, which is what I’d like to do."Qualifying with ACCA is hard work, admits James, who is about to finish the three-year training period. "It’s a big commitment because you study around your working hours, which means giving up lots of weekends and taking lots of exams. But it’s well worth it because it opens so many doors," he says.