Managing Partner BDO
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A-levels are not the only route into accountancy

15th Aug 2019
Managing Partner BDO
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Two girls celebrating exam results in school corridor

Cue teenagers jumping in the air clutching their exam results: it’s A-level results day. As accountants relive exam stresses of yesteryear, BDO’s managing partner Paul Eagland reflects on his A-level results.

Today, students in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are discovering whether their hard work has paid off and if they've been accepted into their chosen university.

But not every student will receive the news they wanted. As anxious teenagers will jam UCAS phone lines, many may feel their future role career in accountancy hinges on these A-level results. 

University is not the only route

As the managing partner of a firm of 5000 people, with offices in 17 locations in the UK, some people assume that I attended a top university and worked my way to the top from there. However, this is not the case.

I attended a large comprehensive school in Walthamstow, East London and nobody in my family had gone to university.

At school expectations were fairly low; we received very little homework and weren’t expected to apply for a place at university. I achieved a B and two Cs in my A-levels which, believe it or not, placed me in the top three in my school year.

Myself and a very small number of my friends were offered university places (mine was to study maths); however, we just weren’t in that mindset. The only people I knew who had gone to university were my teachers. I was keen to earn my own money and my parents were unable to finance me, so university just wasn’t for me.

In the meantime, I was also offered a one-year foundation course at a college in London along with a four-year training contract with an accountancy firm – the idea of having a secure job for four years at a time when UK unemployment was around three million appealed, so I took that option.

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