Today we are sitting down with our accountancy and finance lecturer, Jen South. Prior to joining Pearson College London, Jen enjoyed working as an accountancy tutor at BPP for nearly 10 years, teaching and designing Corporate Reporting and Audit courses to graduate accountancy trainees (including KPMG and other large accountancy firms).
Jen trained as a Chartered Accountant, gaining her ACA qualification working for Brebners, a medium sized audit firm based in Soho. She has experience of accountancy and audit services to a wide range of media, restaurant and construction businesses. She has a degree in Mathematics from St Anne's College, Oxford.
1) What have been the most exciting things about your career so far?
I’m glad you asked that as careers in accountancy can be exciting!
From my years in industry my favourite project was a forensic accounting assignment (where we become accounting detectives) - we were engaged by a multinational plc who had been owed a large sum of money by a customer which then went bankrupt, to decide if the director of the customer company had knowingly let this happen. I had to root through 300 boxes of information in a lock up in Essex and piece together the story which was very satisfying. We discovered a web of companies controlled by the director highlighting definite signs of guilt.
Academically, the most exciting aspects are both designing new courses for students and undertaking research. Working out how best to get across the key message for the course and how to link the core content both with assessments and each week’s delivery is challenging but rewarding.
I’ve recently been researching how data analytics may impact audits in future and it’s exciting to think of the real world application to what I discover, and see if my thoughts about what might happen do occur.
2) Why do you think it's important to study for a Masters degree?
An undergraduate degree develops your way of thinking immensely, but a Masters really gives you the opportunity to deep dive into a subject and understand it to a new level. Our MSc in Financial Leadership, for example, gives both the opportunity to complete the ACCA final exam papers (and therefore be fully exam qualified as a Chartered Certified Accountant on completion) and to research or learn about some up to date topics or areas which are developing now in the accounting world in a structured and thought-provoking way.
3) Can you give an example of when you’ve used something from your past experiences in one of your lectures?
The key to teaching accounting topics in an interesting way is to make each topic relevant to students. With my background as an accountant and auditor in industry I regularly bring in stories (both positive and negative!) of my previous working life to illustrate what I mean.
An example of this is when teaching how client confidentiality is paramount - an ex-colleague of mine once left a written record of the board’s decision to make a division of the client redundant, on the client’s photocopier. How not to do it!