|24 Nov 2020|
This time 10 years ago, I was in upper sixth at BVGS. It was nearly the end of Autumn term and this time of year was always particularly busy.
As President of the School Council there were many meetings to co-ordinate and attend, the Netball season was in full flow and the School Orchestra and Big Band were preparing not only for the Christmas Concert, but were also on a particular high after a tour to perform at the Lyon Jazz Festival.
My time in sixth form went by so fast, and so has the time between now and the moment I started my career in Finance.
Choosing a University to attend was particularly difficult. My parents had not been to University and I felt overwhelmed with choice - choice of Subject, Location, Lifestyle …
It seemed then that the decision I made about University would be pivotal for my entire life. I wish I knew then that actually, whilst it is important how you choose to continue your education, I didn’t have to add the pressure of deeming it life defining. In fact, what I have learned in the first ten years of my career, is that hard work, effort, attitude and people skills are some of the most important qualities for my line of work.
After deliberating subject choices of Law, History and Politics across potentially Oxford, Durham and Leeds (some of my applications), I did find that even at exam phase, I couldn’t be sure as to where to take my direction once school had finished. I’d narrowed it down to a first choice University offer from Leeds to study Politics and Parliamentary Studies with one year in America for an internship at the Whitehouse. I still haven’t got around to visiting America (with the exception of the Vegas strip!).
After hearing an advertisement on the Radio about a paid University Scholarship with KPMG, my parents advised me to apply. I did.
6 interviews, 2 assessment days and 1 Partner interview later, I was hired. I was hired as an Audit Assistant. My training contract was 6 years long and I would study BSc (Hons) Accounting at University of Exeter and the Chartered Accountancy qualification with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland in Edinburgh.
6 years was a long time - triple the time I spent at BVGS even, however, it laid some strong foundations for my career in finance.
I will always remember my first day of work on 19th September 2011. The Corporate life was very different to what I had ever experienced before. The dress code was different, the working hours were long (standard 35 hour weeks but seemed a lot longer than a school day). There was a lot of travel and a lot of “stuff” I just didn’t know.
After my 6 year training contract in audit, I moved into Management Consulting at KPMG. This involved working with a range of businesses, smaller private businesses ready for sale initially, and then I branched into larger scale Government contracts.
After 8.5 years in Professional Services at KPMG, I felt I would gain my next bout of knowledge best in an industry role. I moved to Aldi Stores UK Limited in March of 2020 and am so far really enjoying my role as National Finance & Administration Manager, looking forward to also taking on financial management of Aldi Stores Ireland Limited in early 2021.
10 years on, admittedly, there is still a lot of “stuff” I don’t know. Most of the time, most business decisions affect the finances directly, so it’s fantastic to be involved so closely with the operations of a business.
The world of finance is forever changing and there is always a puzzle to solve. The environment is always moving, and this is something that works for me personally as it keeps me on my toes - most importantly, I keep learning.
Penelope Hodges - 2011 BVGS Leaver
National Finance & Administration Manager at Aldi UK
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