Top 75 trainee interview: BDO

Melissa Dube, audit trainee at BDO, talks to Zak Jakubowski about her decision to take the apprenticeship route to ACA qualification rather than a degree in mathematics and finance

Dube, 22, from Enfield joined mid-tier firm BDO, ranked 6th in the Accountancy Daily Top 75, when she was a school leaver.

She took the apprentice pathway at BDO where she is training to gain an ACA qualification as it looked like the best option.

The apprenticeship school leaver programme involved attending college, taking the professional ACA exams and on-the-job training which takes four to five years to complete.

‘If I had gone go to university I was going to study mathematics with finance, but with the job prospects afterwards, it is better to get a professional qualification,’ said Dube.

‘It’s three years at university and four to five years to do your ACA, as opposed to doing the apprenticeship route and cutting that time. I also started to see a trend of people valuing work experience more than just getting a degree.

‘You apply online and then go through a series of psychometric tests, followed by a group assessment where you are given a bunch of challenges designed to test teamwork. Then finally a partner interview.

‘I had interviews with a bunch of other firms but I noted that at BDO you get a sense that you can be yourself, I felt at home and the interview did not feel like I was being grilled, it was more like a general conversation.

‘I felt this was an environment where I can grow as a person and they are willing to teach me more about audit and, as cheesy as it sounds, accept me as I am.’

The quicker you realise that the only way to learn a lot is to fail, the better you will become

Melissa Dube, audit trainee, BDO

Why accountancy?

‘I have always had a love for numbers and talking to people, so the benefit of what I do, it means I get to go to different clients at a range of companies and incorporate both the accountancy side of things and the technical side of how businesses are run, which I learnt from my exams.

‘Putting that together, I guess that is why I wanted to go into the audit stream. Audit just seems a bit more of me, you get to do a range of jobs like analysing data, testing around financial statements and getting to know the client’s business.'

‘You need to get organised quickly and be prepared to do things wrong. When I arrived at BDO I was 18 years old, just come out of school, and I wanted to do so well that every time I did something bad I took it as a major hit.

‘But if back then I saw every failure as a learning curve and as an opportunity to be better the next time, I think I would have excelled so much quicker. The quicker you realise that the only way to learn a lot is to fail, the better you will become.’

Future plans

‘I think I would like to own my own firm, maybe not an accountancy firm, but doing a hobby or something I am passionate about.

‘The fact I will have the ACA and have so much business knowledge means I would have built the great foundations to start my own firm, that is where I see myself – doing my own thing.

‘I am interested in gym and I think it would be quite cool to have somewhere people can get meals for your gym quite quickly, anything fitness related really. Maybe even a fitness fashion brand, who knows.’

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