A former ACCA student’s experience

Michael Micallef is an audit associate at PwC Malta. He graduated in October 2014 after completing his ACCA studies. Michael has achieved 3rd place in Malta and 74th place worldwide overall performance throughout all ACCA papers. He loves all sorts of sports and anything which involves the word “adrenaline”. Apart from his nine to five life, he is a scout leader at the Aloysius College scout group. In this article, Michael tells us about his academic experience and professional aspirations.

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

MM. In secondary school I chose accounts and economics. The early stages studying accounts didn’t look very promising, however my liking for the subject gradually increased. I learnt the foundations of accounting from scratch and from then on, I kept on studying accounts right up to ACCA. I was always interested in numbers and money, so accounts just fitted right in.

TA. Why did you opt for ACCA?

MM. Towards the final stages of sixth form, I was confronted with the decision between going to University and studying ACCA. I remember my class mates and I were given a talk about the ACCA course provided by BPP through PwC. I knew I wanted to go into the accounting profession and I saw the ACCA program as a route which would enable me to grow in that direction. Moreover, the fact that we would be in small classes with individual attention was a big plus. I started the program in June of 2011 and completed it in June 2014, receiving my final results in August 2014. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the ACCA course. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy however, I was excited to start!

ACCA is designed specifically to focus on the core areas of accounting and auditing. Moreover, the qualification is planned out in a way which would enable me to finish after 3 years, 2 years before the university alternative. Job experience together with international recognition of the ACCA qualification, were two other major advantages. Seeing all my friends head off to university was a hard thing for me, but I was never one to follow the crowd, so I embraced my decision and took it on as a challenge.

TA. Tell us some more about your learning experience.

MM. Joining the ACCA program was a big step for me and like all other things it had both its ups and downs. As a class we were given the individual attention we needed. Personally, I like to understand every aspect of a concept in order to fully grasp it… so I asked lots of questions. I built strong relationships with my classmates and this helped us learn from each other through the work and studies going on.

Months turned into years and mid-way through the course, what seemed to be a walk in the park turned into a big reality check. Numerous were the days were I was asking myself what I had gotten myself into. However, my parents were always right there to support me through what had been some of the hardest days of my life in terms of studying. I had set my mind to a goal which I wanted and needed to achieve it no matter what.

The last year was the hardest as I was juggling both work and studies – attending a 4 hour lecture after an 8 hour day of work at the office is not easy.

TA. Completing ACCA was …?

MM. Completing ACCA was one the happiest moments of my life. I had been waiting eagerly for the result and I was on edge. The result was due to be received at 1 a.m. but since nothing was received by 1.15 am, I decided to head to bed. Shortly after, my phone rang and it turned out to be possibly the best email I will ever receive in my life. I was overwhelmed with joy and relief….”I did it!” All my hard work and sacrifices had led down to this, finally. Completing my ACCA was a big accomplishment for me. It was something I needed to get out of the way before I could fully focus on my career. I am sure it is just the beginning for me and I am hopeful that through my hard work, I can use ACCA as my first stepping stone to a fruitful career.

TA. ACCA and your working career?

MM. I was actually enrolled in the ACCA full time study program through PwC back in 2011. I was employed by PwC as a student for the first two years of the programme and started working full time for the last year of the course. The last year was one of the toughest challenges of my life, both mentally and physically because of the constant effort and concentration that are needed. Working and studying simultaneously leaves you with little time to spare which can be a challenge. However, through time management I managed to juggle work, studies and scouts. As a new joiner at the firm, everything was very new for me but I was very eager to learn and take on new challenges. The past year has been a great learning curve for me and I hope to continue heading in the same direction.

TA. What are your career aspirations?

MM. Right now I’m focussing on taking in and absorbing as much as I can from work at PwC as it can offer me great opportunities to grow and learn. I’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for me. For now, feet on the ground.

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

MM. My advice to anyone doing ACCA or pursuing a career in accounting or auditing, I’ll tell you to never to give up. I myself, have had countless times were I have wanted to give in. Stay strong and believe in yourself and your choices. Follow your dreams.

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