Work hard now and the rewards will follow in years to come

by Alex Bradley

04 April 2018

Like many others, Alex Bradley didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted to do after he left college. He worked in the family business for a short while, before realising what his real passion was – accountancy. At the moment Alex is a senior management accountant at NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group. He looked back at the support he received from the HFMA coaching and mentoring team, in order to quickly progress his NHS finance career.

How did you start your NHS finance journey?

After leaving college, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my career. A family member offered me a job working within the family business. I wasn’t enjoying working as a wardrobe fitter, so I knew that if I wanted to change my career path it had to be now! I loved working with numbers at school, as well as problem solving, which lead me to the thought of becoming an accountant. Luckily, I have an older cousin who is also a management accountant, so he showed me a few pieces of work. This looked like something I would want to get involved in!

As I left college with no accounting qualifications, I knew that I needed to start from somewhere. I was fortunate enough to find a job advert as a finance apprentice at NHS Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group. Whilst working I could study for my AAT Level 2 qualification. After my course finished, I was able to secure a substantive role as an assistant management accountant within the organisation. I was fortunate enough to be supported with my ongoing studying onto the certificate level of CIMA, which helped me to progress my career further. This enabled me to act up as a management accountant within NHS Brighton and Hove CCG due to movement within the team. After a year and completing my CIMA certificate, I have now moved into a senior management accountant post at NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group.

Why did you get involved with the HFMA?

I was approached after working within the NHS. HFMA were asking for students currently studying CIMA to be part of a mentoring pilot. I had previously attended the regional 24-hour event within the Kent, Surrey and Sussex branch and was keen to be part of the association. I have been supported with invitations to attend events and webinars. They help expand my portfolio and knowledge.

Tell us about your mentoring experience.

I had a very positive mentoring experience with my mentor Helen. We were matched together based on the expertise I needed. We set aims at the beginning of our work together. From there we were in regular contact and kept building up on our initial plans as the mentoring relationship progressed.

One of my biggest problems was to get the right work/study balance, as I would favour work over studying. Helen was able to motivate me to study to receive the rewards at the end! We were able to put a plan in place to help me balance the workload without juggling too much at one time. This enabled me to get into a rhythm of studying and to hit the targets that we set out at the start. I learnt a lot of useful little hints and tips on how to refocus the mind when completing different projects at the same time.

What’s the most important HFMA member benefit for you?

The most important benefit for me would definitely be the mentoring scheme. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to take part in it, I can’t recommend it enough - it helped me to  get my studying back on track, to progress with my career goals and with my personal day to day duties. In addition to this, the HFMA branch events have allowed me to network with other professionals within my region which I have found extremely useful.

What piece of advice do you have for people who are starting their NHS finance journey now?

For those that are starting their journey, good luck! There is a clear pathway in place where you can achieve your goals whatever they may be. Work hard now and the rewards will follow in years to come!


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