A former ACCA student’s experience

Elaine Marie Debono is a 24 year old senior tax advisor at Mazars Malta. Elaine had started ACCA at the age of 18 and successfully completed her ACCA studies in August 2012, obtaining ACCA membership soon after. Elaine has worked for over 5 years within the Tax Function of a big Four Firm and following that she joined the expanding Tax Function of Mazars Malta. Elaine has participated in an International ACCA Marketing campaign which gave her the opportunity to visit the ACCA Headquarters in London. Apart from being an accountant and a tax advisor, she is very passionate about travelling and always on the lookout for experiences which allow her to breathe foreign air. Elaine is very fond of healthy living and clean eating and loves to exercise daily.

In this article, Elaine tells us about her academic experience and professional aspirations.

TA. What influenced you to opt for the accountancy profession?

EMD. Ever since I was young, I was always very ambitious and always dreamed of having a fulfilling career – not being too fond of the Sciences subject and always being business-minded I decided to study accountancy. I consider myself as being a very outgoing person and love meeting people. Pursuing a career in accountancy and more specifically in taxation, in my case, helped me fulfil my life-long ambition of doing something which I love and loving something which I do…daily!

TA. Why did you opt for ACCA?

EMD. Although after I finished my studies at Junior College, where I was studying Accountancy, I had an urge to start working, I felt it would be a pity to stop at ‘A’ level standard. It was an even harder decision after receiving my ‘A’ level results and knowing that I managed to obtain those 90 credits that were enough for being admitted to the University of Malta. However, I was extremely keen to start working so that I could receive the exposure that I desired and so opted to embark on my professional career rather than spend another 5 years of studying. During the summer of 2008, I started working in a big Four Firm, helping out with simple administrative tasks. It felt like I was at the right place at the right time because as soon as I received my ‘A’ level results my colleagues and previous employers started encouraging me to give ACCA a try. I did not give it much thought knowing that ACCA was the only route that would have allowed me to work and study simultaneously. I strongly believe this to hold considerable importance because through ACCA one acquires work experience whilst getting first hand practise of what is being taught during the evening lectures.

TA. Tell us some more about your learning experience.

EMD. In today’s day and age we hear a lot about work-life balance. Doing ACCA requires not only work-life balance but work-life-STUDY balance – which might not seem too hard to achieve at first. However attending a 3 hour lecture after a full day’s work and at the same time trying to find the time for a good work out and some quality time with family or friends on a weekday can at times be stressful at best. Indeed combining the three requires a lot of energy, time management, planning ahead and a good dose of positivity. I always worked full time whilst completing my ACCA studies but I aIways made it a point to spend at least 30 mins going through the lecture notes in order to start preparing for the exams as early as possible. I must say that I received a lot of support both from my employers as well as my lecturers at BPP.

TA. Completing ACCA was…?

EMD. A big challenge BUT definitely one of the most fulfilling experiences and achievements of my life. That time helped me believe in myself more and more and taught me that one should never cease to push and strive. I can still remember the day when my final results were issued. At the time they used to publish the results at 6 in the morning and I spent the whole night awake because I had difficulty sleeping. When results were finally issued and realised I had made it, I was very excited and cried with joy. I felt satisfied and happy whilst also feeling relieved. I called my boyfriend to tell him the good news but since I kept crying, he thought I had failed! The following day I returned proudly to work, where my colleagues organised a mini party during break. It was truly a memorable day.

TA. ACCA and your working career?

EMD. Studying ACCA and being admitted as a member has helped me develop holistically, both on a technical and on a professional level. It has helped me to understand better my role as an accountant and my responsibilities both toward my clients and society at large. I also think that it has boosted my self confidence making me ready to explore new opportunities as well as tackling more complex and challenging assignments.

TA. What are your career aspirations?

EMD. : After working in Tax for over 6 years I cannot imagine myself working in another service line, which is not Tax. I find Taxation as being considerably challenging and one of the most interesting aspect of the accountancy profession. It is one of the most fast changing and important areas of our profession. My aspirations for the future are to continue to grow and specialise within this sector, potentially managing my very own Tax Department. I also look towards lecturing and one day I would like to teach other students. From some previous training and also mentoring experiences which I have had, passing on information and knowledge about a subject which you are fond of can be quite fulfilling.

TA. Any advice you may wish to share with the readers?

EMD. I am very fond of the Italian language and I have once encountered this quote which I quickly adopted as my very own motto during my ACCA studies – “Lotteria, L’otterrai, Lo terrai”, it means “You will fight for it, you will achieve it and you will keep it!” Indeed completing ACCA can be a great challenge which you have to fight for – you have to commit and work hard. Take one step at a time and never look back and trust me you will achieve it. Once you achieve it you will keep it. Knowledge is something that no one can ever take from you. Studying is an investment in yourself and I can promise that every hour spent studying will turn out to be worthwhile, not only when on the day when your final results will be published and you will cry out of joy and relief but also every time you progress in your career!

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