Aoibheann Cousins

Gen BODY - Aoibhean Cousins-min

Tell us about your academic background?

I qualified with Accounting Technicians Ireland in 2013 and, with encouragement and support from my peers and my workplace, I progressed on to start studying with Chartered Accountants Ireland in 2014.

Why accountancy? 

Accountancy is a widely respected and highly regarded profession. The wide range of opportunities and experiences available within the accountancy profession are well known. The career enhancement prospects and the chance to be an active part of a network of professionals led to me being successful with Accounting Technicians Ireland; I was keen to embrace new challenges and take the next step to becoming a chartered accountant.

Why Chartered Accountants Ireland?

The reputation of Chartered Accountants Ireland is exemplary. I wanted to ensure that at the end of my studying I would have a qualification that would enhance my CV and further my career, I knew that Chartered Accountants Ireland had the resources and the expertise to make this happen. I spoke to my colleagues who have all previously qualified with Chartered Accountants Ireland and they reassured me that this was the ideal route for me; they spoke about the high quality of teaching and support available within Chartered Accountants Ireland.

Can you explain the Flexible Route to someone who doesn't know what it is?

The flexible route allowed me to obtain the qualification without a training contract and provided flexibility around study commitments; I was able to complete my second year over two years rather than one. This was very advantageous to me as I had just gotten married and started a family. I had my daughter in 2015 and, more recently, my son at the start of 2019. I was able to maintain my studying and work commitments throughout this time, in part thanks to the flexible route.

What are the advantages to working and studying?

Working and studying together can be demanding but I thoroughly appreciated the challenge. I was able to gain invaluable 'real world' experience which was essential for the completion of the Chartered Accountants Ireland experience diary. I was able to work closely with my colleagues and my mentor, learning from their expertise and experience. I also found, as time progressed, that I was able to actively contribute to that work environment. I believe that combining work and studying provides an essential element of 'real world' application which is vitally important.

Where have you worked and what kind of roles have you been in?

I have been working for The Lotus Group for the past 12 years, based primarily in the Banbridge offices. The Lotus Group provides Asset and Property Management Services. Ongoing studying and exam success has allowed me to take on extra roles and responsibilities within the Company.

Describe a typical day for you?

A typical day involves a busy working environment, tight deadlines and rewarding conditions. The Divisions within the Company allow me to undertake an assortment of responsibilities, ranging from the preparation of Management Accounts to submitting quarterly VAT Returns. This variety of opportunities leads to a dynamic work environment which continually challenges me. 

How was combining work and study?

It was a challenging but highly rewarding experience. Working full time, studying and raising a family was challenging. However, with excellent support from the Institute and my workplace I found it to be very much achievable. I found the online lectures to be a very useful resources, particularly when I was unable to go to the live lectures. They also assisted in effective time management, which was vital.  

Can you see how someone who is not an accountant might benefit from this qualification?

Yes, especially now with the new FAE electives. The new FAE Electives make the qualification more accessible for individuals who are working in the Financial Services and the Public Sector. Additionally, the flexible route to the qualification which is offered allows access to the course for those who may otherwise not have had the chance.

Would you recommend the Flexible Route to others? Why?

Yes, I believe it to be a brilliant route to achieving an excellent qualification. It allowed me the flexibility which I needed to find the balance between work, study and family life.

What advice would you give someone who is considering the Flexible Route?

Go for it. With sustained hard work, determination and commitment it is very worthwhile and achievable.

What success are you looking for?

I intend to continue to build on my experience and expertise. I hope to expand my areas of expertise within my workplace, as a Chartered Accountant and embrace new challenges.

What are your future goals?

To continue to exceed expectations and to keep moving forward.