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Practice Excellence
Practice Excellence

Trainee of the year is 'force to be reckoned with'

10th Apr 2017
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Success for an accounting trainee is demonstrated beyond exam results. With a clear vision for success and ‘going above and beyond’ across client contact, and internal processes, it’s no wonder last year’s Practice Excellence Awards trainee winner hasn’t found time to organise her wedding.

Selen Mertdjan from Nordens accountants amazed the Practice Excellence judges with what she had achieved after only six months in her role.

Described by her firm as a “force to be reckoned with”, Mertdjan picked up the Practice Excellence gong after carrying herself to the standard of a senior member of the team, rather than a trainee.


While Mertdjan’s drive to succeed seems unheard of for someone in the infancy of their career, it was borne out of an early setback.

“I studied accounting at university and the idea was to get into accounting straight away, which didn't quite happen,” she said. Instead, Mertdjan’s career trajectory took a slight detour, as she took a position with Barclays after her accounting aspiration got pushed aside by a competitive job market.

However,  an old school friend who eventually would become her colleague suggested she apply for a role with Nordens. Needless to say, she embraced the opportunity and hasn’t looked back since.

Since then Mertdjan made up for lost time by throwing herself into studying and working at a level unheard of for a trainee. Having gained a first in her accounting and business management degree, she has so far qualified for six ACCA exemptions and holds ambitions to become fully qualified by the end of 2018.

Chasing her fully qualified goal has motivated Mertdjan to sit all four ACCA exams this year. “The harder I work, the quicker I get the exams done,” she said,” and the quicker I will be qualified and won't have to study again.”

Client skills

Mertdjan’s career gap at Barclays didn’t prove wasted. The client facing skills she picked up as a client manager put her in good steed to liaise with high street banks and HMRC in her present role. But she did need a few weeks to refresh her accounting knowledge. “I did have to pull out a few textbooks to remember things,” she said.

But it didn’t take her long to excel in her role and exert a positive influence on the firm. Fuelled by her partner ambitions, she has taken it upon herself to train apprentices, attend client meetings and even bring in new clients - and again, this is just six months into her role.

Work-life balance

Mertdjan has now put all her focus on qualifying. Despite having her impending nuptials to organise Mertdjan isn’t going to swap her textbooks for wedding brochures just yet, she said: “I try not to let [work-life balance] suffer because of work but in terms of wedding, my fiance has said it's fine, we're not going to book anything until I qualify.”

Having that drive to achieve can have an adverse effect. That’s why Mertdjan advises her fellow trainees to retain some semblance of life outside accounting: “Make sure you have a good work-life balance because studying is very long.

“I try to start [studying] as early as possible and schedule time each evening to do work. And then weekends I don't do anything.”

The 2017 Practice Excellence Awards are now open for entries. Visit the Practice Excellence website to find out more.

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