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Aaron Westgate – Accountancy Teacher

Deloitte alumnus Aaron Westgate on teaching ICAEW qualifications and preparing trainee accountants for the world of work.

1. Tell me about your role and why you decided to become an accountancy teacher?

My university days gave me a passion for education, and that’s when I first started to think about a career in teaching. My degree in Accountancy and Finance naturally led to a place on Deloitte’s graduate scheme, after a placement year. During my time at the firm, I opted to work on education clients as I found the sector has such a big impact on the world, and I wanted to be part of that impact. I was also fortunate to work on secondment in a multi-academy Trust, and I led part of the ‘One Million Futures’ programme.

2. How are you making an impact through your role in education?

I always aim to teach more than the baseline technical content. It’s not just knowledge, but also real-world experiences which contribute to your success as an Accountant. I encourage students to use their new skills to analyse how a recently released audit report has been modified, or how a High Street bank would derive its mortgage rates.

I also encourage my students to be resilient and agile, so they’re equipped to deal with life challenges. I’m involved in our professional development and leadership courses, I support students if they have failed exams, and I share insights in my profession through my LinkedIn account.

3. How do you inspire your students to pursue a career in accountancy?

I’m honest with them and explain the challenges, as well as the rewarding experiences work and study can bring. An accountancy career is about learning what you do like, as well as what you don’t like about the profession. Some people love tax, others can’t stand it. Neither is right or wrong and it doesn’t reflect liking (or disliking) accountancy as a whole.

4. What advice would you give your students working on their first project as a qualified auditor?

If you're uncomfortable about how a manager communicated or delegated, change it for the better so that others don’t have the same experience. Too many times, I have seen people treat others ‘because that’s the way I was treated’.

Find an email management system that won’t stress you out. Prioritise the important messages by dealing with urgent requests and important quick actions first. Having a ‘to do’ folder is OK, and I like to manage other people’s expectations with a quick holding email saying when I’ll respond in more detail.  I also tell people when I need something by, so they don’t feel they need to respond immediately, and I only use Teams when an immediate response is required.

5. How have you stayed connected to Deloitte and with former colleagues? 

LinkedIn allows me to see the awesome things people are doing at Deloitte or elsewhere. My closest colleagues from Deloitte organise an annual dinner, and there are also local pub trips throughout the year.  Naturally, my work keeps me heavily involved in the accountancy news, and reading the alumni newsletter helps keep me updated about Deloitte and key topics in accountancy. 

6. Is there a particular nugget or learning from Deloitte you’d like to share which has impacted on your career?

Set expectations and communicate with people if you’re having problems or won’t meet a deadline, rather than hide or hope someone forgets. Deadlines can be difficult to manage, especially early on when you’re juggling multiple

Learn to have difficult conversations. You’ll only learn how by trying (or through training). Being a good manager requires this as it’s a tough role, which you learn early when managing junior staff on a project – this might start earlier than you think!

Deloitte is a dynamic environment where change is welcomed.  My time there taught me not to be afraid to challenge when it’s not working.

Read more Deloitte alumni profiles:

Ed Symons, Darwin Tree of Life Project

Amelia Ashton-Jones, SailGP - growing a sailing event

Jamie Wood, Co-founder of Ambr, preventing workplace burnout and stress

Nneka Orji, Senior Director in Asset and Weath Management, on the power of career sponsorship

The UK Deloitte Alumni Network - Colleagues for Life

Staying connected by sharing industry insights and networking events. 

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