What did I learn from the meeting with the Project Mentor, including the presentation I gave to my Project Mentor?
Writing the research project was interest part of my life. Being the first research of this nature, I encountered a lot of challenges. I was not really sure how and where to start from writing this project. The first meeting I had with my Project Mentor gave me confidence to write this research project.
There are a lot of things that I have learnt from the Mentor and he guided me throughout the research project preparation.
Firstly, I had to match the skills I posses and the topic I have chosen. By matching, I learnt how to evaluate my knowledge, skill and experience required preparing the research project and therefore developed skills of reflection.
The Mentor provided me with in-depth explanation of the requirements of the topic I have chosen. With this understanding, I was able to come up with questions for the research project that were designed to meet the requirements of the research objectives.
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Time management was an important element. I learnt time management skills by setting targets at every stage of my RAP and setting information requirements at every stage of RAP. This was very helpful since I knew exactly what kind of information I was looking for at every stage.
My mentor gave me an overview of what research was all about. I learnt a lot of research techniques from my Mentor. For example, since I was using secondary data, I learnt the need to diversify the sources of information so that I was using reliable information to prepare this research project.
Finally, my Mentor provided me with tips on report writing skills, report structure and prepare presentation in Microsoft Power Point. Presentation skills included preparation, developing presentation style, structuring effective presentation and developing as a presenter.
How has undertaking the RAP helped me in my accountancy studies and/or current employment role?
Doing the RAP was very helpful to me. I acquired new skills, new knowledge and made me a thorough revision of what I have already learnt in my ACCA studies. The whole research project was quiet interesting because it gave me an insight on how to apply the knowledge I have acquired in my accountancy studies can be applied in practice. Participating in this program will be very helpful when I will be doing the final papers of ACCA. RAP will help me in the following areas:
Ratios Analysis- accounting techniques.
Doing the RAP was a good revision of the knowledge I acquired in my earlier studies. I also came to thoroughly understand the calculation and interpretation of financial ratios.
A number of books with different explanation were used. I benefitted a lot compared to the one book I used in my earlier ACCA studies. I used following books: BPP, London College of Accountancy manuals for F4 and P4, and Financial Accounting and Reporting by Jamie Elliot and Barry Elliot. Having done this RAP, I am looking forward to studying P3- Business Analysis and P4- Advanced Financial Management.
My skills to calculate and interpret financial ratios have greatly improved which will be of value in real life situation. I really enjoyed the ratios analysis because I was able to move away from just observing the movement in ratios. I have gained the skills to unearth what is causing this movement in the ratios using the financial ratios as snapshots. Doing the RAP has placed me in a better position to read and interpret financial statements to understand what has happened and the future impact of the results.
RAP has tremendously improved my knowledge of business analysis because it required me understand different business analysis techniques. I therefore read a lot of books including the BPP and Kaplan manuals for ACCA paper P3- Business Analysis and Competitive Strategy by Michael E. Porter (2004) to gain the necessary techniques of business analysis for me to prepare this RAP. I complemented this by visiting different websites which showed me how to look for the relevant information.
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I gained detailed knowledge on how to evaluate business using different models such as SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats), PEST (Political, Economic, Social and Technological factors) and Porter's Five Forces.
Because of the depth of knowledge that gained by doing the RAP, I have the confidence and zeal to look forward to studying ACCA paper P3- Business analysis.
One of the fascinating elements of doing RAP is the understanding of how analysis is done. I have learnt that first I have to analyse the industry structure in which the company operates in order to determine the competitiveness and attractiveness. Then gain the skills to analyse the strength, weakness, opportunities and threats of the company in the face of these industry forces. I also learnt the imperatives of analysing the financial ratios in conjunction of these factors.
I have greatly improved my decision making on ethical matters since I have done the RAP. The ACCA Profession Ethics (the requirement before undertaking the RAP) enhanced my decision making on ethical because I had to deal with real life scenarios. This knowledge will be helpful when I will be studying the compulsory ACCA paper P1- Professional Accountants and P7- Advance Audit and Assurance. Following many corporate scandals, the Professional Accountants will make stand out on the job market.
How well I do think I have answered my research questions?
I collected data with the aim of answering the research project's questions. I systematically drafted research objectives that were supposed to be answered. These research questions influenced the type of information to be collected and the research approach.
Having drafted clear and precise research questions, I then collected and evaluated the information that was directed to the research questions. As a result I collected high quality information and saved a lot of time which allowed me finish the project as planed. Doing the ACCA Professional ethics was of tremendous importance because it made me act objectively throughout the RAP. For example, referencing any information used that was not mine.
The combination of the research techniques I learnt from my mentor and the Professional ethics module made me answer the research questions fairly well. It was impossible to thoroughly answer the research questions because of the following limitations:
I was not able to include all the relevant information that I would prefer in the report because I was not able to conduct interviews with key personnel at Pepsico Inc. The interview would have provided me with information that is not contained in the publicly available information.
The subjectivity of some issues made me make some subjective interpretation and judgement especially where I lacked vital information.
The research techniques deployed e.g. ratios, SWOT analysis and the Porter's five forces have their own limitations as stated in the main report. For example, I could not use these models of analysis to measure the customers' satisfaction and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) - promoters customers minus detractors customers.
I systematically approached the research project so that I did not lose track of what I wanted to achieve. I gradually did the research in such a way that the preceded stage was the input to the next stage. For example, to analyse Pepsico Inc financial performance, I used the following approach to answer the research questions:
Identification of techniques to be applied- financial ratios, SWOT etc
Industry analysis using Porter's five forces
Company analysis using SWOT
Calculation of relevant ratios for each of the respective years and analyse in conjunction of SWOT and porter's five forces
Results' interpretation of Pepsico Inc
Making a conclusion
Relevant recommendations were made where possible to make improvement with the current situation.
How have I demonstrated my interpersonal and communication skills during the work?
Preparing the RAP demanded more than just reading books. The RAP questions required a wide source of information which included face to face meetings with my Mentor. By having a wide source of information I ensured the information was complete and representative. Synthesing the information to prepare project the report that your standard required skills in report writing and effective presentation.
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Interpersonal and communication skills that were demonstrated during the RAP were as follows:
Ability to produce the report;
My report is the basis of my findings, analysis and the recommendations. As a result I was able to demonstrate the level of knowledge and skills required to write the report which the RAP meet your requirements.
I was able to demonstrate this knowledge and skills because of reading different books which enhanced these skills. For example, I read books such as; 'How to write Dissertation and Project's Report' by Kathleen McMillan and Jonathan Weyers- August 2007. The RAP helped me demonstrate the ability to communicate the report's findings by presenting them in a meaningful way.
Project's presentation to my Mentor;
Being the first time, making a presentation posed a lot of challenges. I had challenges in arranging information for presentation and to confidently stand and make presentation before my mentor. I read a book called 'Brilliant Presentation' by Richard Hall which helped with presentation skills.
I demonstrated my computer skills through the computer programmes I used to present my RAP. The programmes include MS Word, MS Power Point, MS Excel and typing. I improved my computer skills by reading books such as MS Office 2007- All in one desk, by Peter Weverka.