When I was approached to be the chair of the ACCA Emerging Talent Advisory group it was an opportunity I grabbed instantly. Championing social mobility is something that is very close to my heart, having grown up on a rough council estate in East London, I know exactly what it is like when you want to break the glass ceilings and make opportunities for yourself, but you have no-one to nurture that hidden talent.
The Emerging Talent Advisory programme is designed to create a level playing field for students who are from a socio-economically disadvantaged background, which is needed as data shows that it is substantially harder for these students to successfully enter hypercompetitive sectors such as accounting and finance. To paint the picture, 70 percent of those on some of the top graduate schemes are from private or selective schools, which educate 11 percent of the population. Seventy four percent of top judges and 60 percent of leaders in the financial services were also educated at independent schools. Less advantaged students are 50 percent less likely to have explored potential careers at school than independent school students, are eight times less likely to have secured useful work experience through connections and are 44 percent less likely to participate in extracurricular activities in school.
I remember growing up and struggling to have that one role model that I could look to and say “I want to be like X, or I want to be like Y” and I can only imagine how many other talented students have to go / are going through similar. That’s why I was fully on board with the idea when I was approached. Being able to help shape and inform students, develop the skills needed to excel and build great transferable skills and attributes that will help them undertake a professional career that fulfils the needs of industry and employers for accounting, finance and consequently other professional sectors is something I am looking forward to.
I was fortunate enough to have that guidance and mentorship from my mentor and father figure Quintin Price, who saw a diamond in the dust with me when I knocked on his door. His mentorship spurred me on to acknowledging that I have such a resilient ‘can do’ attitude, that I can make it in a competitive environment like the financial sector, and that I can excel within the industry. This is what I want to help instil in the undergraduates enrolling on the Emerging Talent Programme. I feel as though students shouldn’t need to knock on doors to seek the mentorship and assistance they need, but should have this easily available to them. Hopefully the programme will be a bridge for students who enrol.
My aim, being chair of the advisory group, is to be part of the talented group of individuals changing the narrative. I want to say despite these students not coming from a privileged background or having resources readily available to them, they are still students that can excel and attain positions that are highly sought after.