Professional Development Report and Reflective Practice Essay

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18th May 2020 Personal Development Reference this

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Professional Development Report

This Professional Development Report provide in detail analysis and critical assessment of the professional events and actions which helped in development of employability skills and also increased professional knowledge through work placement.  Structure of this report is mainly divided in two major sections. First section, state about the acquired skills and knowledge and highlight the events which helped to enhance professional knowledge and skills. Whereas, second section is about the personal reflection where all the experiences learnt are mentioned as a person living the life in the UK. That reflection will show the transformation being a person happened during the course of MSc Management at BPP University. For reflection part Gibbs’ model of reflection was applied to analyse the activities and events.

1. Background to the Internship Placement

I started my internship as ‘Accounting (Bookkeeping and Payroll) Intern’ at Vision Consulting in 555-557 Cranbrook Road, Gants Hill, Ilford, IG2 6HE. Vision Consulting is a medium sized accounting firm with about almost 40 to 45 employees. This firm deal with clients not only in the UK but also has clients in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Monaco and Hong Kong. Major services this firm provide are internal audits, payroll, bookkeeping and tax investigation and planning. My internship period started on 1st April 2019 which ended up on 31st July 2019. I work as a full-time intern and my timings were 09:00 am to 05:30 pm from Monday to Friday. My major duties were in bookkeeping and payroll departments.

1.1 Description of Critical Learning Events

Mostly interns are expected to follow their senior members of staff or the mentor/supervisor to facilitate them in learning (Montague and Violette, 2017). I was also assigned a senior accountant of the firm for first month of July. I have to just follow his orders and do the tasks whatever he wants me to do. That first month was the toughest time of my internship as I was not used to such routine before and there was always a heap of files in front of me to study and find out the mistakes and errors. But after a month, I can clearing feel the difference from the day one when I joined the firm. That one month enhanced my skill of Attention to the details, as before just I do the tasks just for the sake of doing not with proper focus and attention.

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In second month of August, I worked in the department of Bookkeeping. Bookkeeping is one of the most time- consuming tasks in any consultancy firm. As one has to consider and manage a record of all sales invoices (without or with credit control), filing Value Added Tax (VAT) returns, running of weekly, fortnightly and monthly payroll, preparation of quarterly or monthly management accounts to monitor company’s performance. Here came then the issue of Time Management, as I have to meet deadlines and finish work of different clients on sometimes same dates. There I got a chance to learn a valuable skill of Time Management and Prioritizing the tasks to be done on time and same deadlines (Webb and Chaffer, 2016). When I started bookkeeping I had no experience of doing that initially but had a desire to overcome all my weaknesses and learn difficult things. And due to that, I have enough experience now that I can handle all this Independently.

During third month of my work placement, I was assigned to work in the payroll department. There I had to provide clients with online payslips according to their demand (i.e. weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly). Also process the company’s employees starting, leaving or year-end forms including P45, P46 and P60 forms. Along that I also had to calculate employee’s holidays pay, Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). And finally, forward email reminders to clients about when their payroll is due and what they have to do in case of filing late. All these duties helped me to develop professional skills in field of accounting and finance. But the most important skills which I gained equally important to the technical skills were the Communication and Interpersonal Relationship skills, though I was not very communicative person from beginning. After joining Vision Consulting I realized that these are one of the most important skills if you want to excel as the successful professional accountant (Daff, 2013). That’s why I start working to cope my these personality deficiencies.

Last month of my work placement was the best time I had, as I was well experienced until that time and had an idea how an accountancy firm work and what possible services they can provide to their clients. In last days, I was given a separate client, but it was a small company and they need services regarding payroll. I well managed all the things by myself independently. But at few points I asked for guidance from my mentor, that thing lead me to consider the fact that I lack the ability of making own decisions and I am afraid of taking initiatives. As decision making is one of the core skill clients seeks from any accountant, as he has in depth knowledge of company’s financial resources (Tout et al., 2014). So, he can advise better decision for the company progress. Major advantage which I had during my work placement was that, by working in different departments I had opportunity to learn professionally basic aspects of accounting.

1.2 Reflection on Critical Learning Events

Attention to Details

Accountants need to be highly detail oriented, as he is responsible in aspects of all company’s financial resources. Initially when I was given the bulk of files of balance sheets to study. My task was to interpret the information and then carefully enter the data and numbers into income statements and cash flow reports without making any error. For that reason, there was need that data should be interpreted carefully and accurately without errors. I was feeling pressure during that time, firstly because I just joined the firm, secondly, I haven’t done all these tasks professionally before and lastly my mentor was little bit strict and harsh to me in start. Sometimes, lack of control, role ambiguity, external pressure and excessive workload create job related stress, as I was facing initially (Chong and Monroe, 2013).

One incident, which was eye opening for me and after that incident I became more vigilant in terms of duties assigned to me. I was assigned a task to create a financial report of a company and also asked to highlight key financial resources and what would be the suitable future options for the company to work in. I worked on that report for almost three to four days, but I was bit nervous as it was my first independent task. I was also worried because of my mentor, what if I did any mistake. After completing that report and submitted it to the supervisor I was bit satisfied that I had done my job well. But what happened next was shocking for me, within five minutes my supervisor point out plenty of mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes were in the final balance where I put one zero less and also forgot to put dot in interest payments. And these two mistakes were altering the end figures significantly. I can’t explain my feeling I had at that time, I was totally embarrassed on the silly mistakes I had done.

After that incident, I decided that I should be more careful and recheck my work twice before handing over it to others. I planned that in future I will also worked on my aptitude for numbers with special focus on rounding off the figures and performing very simple to the difficult calculations by my own. Because all these steps will reduce the chances of happening the similar mistake again. Moreover, I will work on to enhance my observation skills as well, as good observation is one of the crucial skills should be possessed by accountants. All these skills related to attention to detail would be helpful in my career development as an accountant.

Time Management and Prioritizing

Time management and prioritizing became a problem for me, when I start working in Bookkeeping. As I had to manage bookkeeping for three companies at the same deadline. And for one, I had to go to the company’s office instead to do it at my own work place because Vision Consulting provide bookkeeping assignments both on remote access as well as at company’s premises as well. As already mentioned above, bookkeeping is more time-consuming process than to be the tough one. So, I was under pressure to complete all three assignments within the given timeline.

Time management issues basically stated, when my schedule start conflicting with the company where I had to go for bookkeeping in their office. To cope with this problem, initially I started to work overtime and try to manage to finish work on time. But soon because of this hectic routine, I started to become exhausted and tired. Eventually, all that tough routine starts effecting my work efficiency as well, during office hours I became lethargic and becoming least interested in doing my job. My mentor also noticed this and called me in his office. He said that he is not much satisfied with my performance and ask me to justify the reason. I clearly told him the issue I was facing was the management of tasks to be done on time. And also mentioned the point that it is too much burden for me as an intern to work on bookkeeping of three companies, at a time.

My mentor listened carefully all the points I raised regarding my poor performance. Then he asked my why I didn’t told him before when I was assigned the tasks. I explained my point that I was over ambitious at that time and I thought if I’ll have more work I will have more opportunities to learn. He opposed my point of view and said that, you can learn more when you will do one task with more concentration and focus. Later, he gave one company to another inter.

When I finished both assignments before deadline, then I realized that if I had three like before it will definitely affect my performance as well as quality of work. I easily managed work of two companies and tried to do it parallel, as if I was keeping record of sales invoices I did it for both companies. I enabled me to prioritise the tasks which are more time-consuming to be done before than the other tasks. Second thing which I learnt apart from  time management was the importance of sharing your thoughts with others in timely manner. If I shared my issue with my mentor before assigning these task assignments, I didn’t face all the depression and stress I had. That’s why I decided that I will not repeat such mistake in future again, and only do the work according to the work capacity I have. As Chong and Monroe (2013), mentioned that conflicting deadlines and extra work burden result in the ultimate job stress and dissatisfaction.

For better time management in future, I decided to prepare a proper schedule. Starting with setting goals and prioritize them accordingly. Then make a list of order how and when things have to be done. And finally will set an early deadline for me before the actual deadline of task.

Communication and Interpersonal Relationship Skills

Being an accountant one should have excellent communication skills as he has to communicate with people and employees of different levels. Accountants also have to send constantly emails, draft letters, prepare reports and do interpretation for department heads, directors and managers regarding their expenditure whether they are within budget limits or not.  So, along with verbal communication skills accountants also need to improve their written communication skills as well. Research in New Zealand shows that, new accountancy graduates often lack oral communication skills when they begin their careers (Gray, 2010).

For me as an accountant, I think I need to focus on both verbal and written communication skills specially because I am working in an English-speaking country. And English is not my native language, so I need more effort to put in building my effective communication skills both oral and written.

I first realized that need to improve my communication skills when I went to the company for their bookkeeping assignment. That company was of European origin and mostly people working there were English and Europeans. I was very hard for me to understand them initially as they speak fast and I can’t catch up with their speed. As, I was already in stress due to the conflicting deadlines, this thing was putting more pressure on me. All I was worried about, I did not want to leave a bad impression of my firm on them. But it was becoming a problem for me. Later when I had time and had to do only two tasks I start practising Business English communication skills lessons. That helped me to enhance my communication skills and knowledge of English. Secondly, I start focusing more on my active listening skills as I presumed that it will help me to catch up the speed during conversation. 

Apart from lack of both verbal and written communication skills, I found that I also lack in interpersonal and social skills as well. In start, I was just concerned to my work and was not involved with other colleagues and senior accountants. But in later months when I came across the situations of having discussion I found myself very quiet and reluctant to participate any discussion by my own. Then I realized, the importance of having active social life and interpersonal skills because without these skills I am unable to voice my ideas and thoughts with others. And being an accountant, it will be a big hurdle for me in path of my career. From that time, I decided that in future I will take part in social activities more energetically than before and will also try to increase my social contacts with seniors and clients as well.

According to Yongmei Liu et al., (2011), when interns involved in social activities with the aim of get to know others and to develop effective relationship with high profile people in organization, it increases the support from their seniors which ultimately result in job satisfaction.

Decision Making Skills

Learning to take decisions by myself and working independently was a challenging situation for me specially more difficult than better time management. At the time when in last month I was given the first own client, I came across one more weakness I have. I was afraid in making decisions by my own, as I already being working in that firm from last three months but still I lack self-confidence in terms of taking decisions. According to the researchers, decision making skills of accountants plays the major role in terms of achieving company’s objectives (Tout at al., 2014).

I decided to take few initiatives to enhance my decision-making skills. For that, at the first I completed my given task before deadline according to my perception and gave it to my mentor for review to highlight the mistakes and error. My mentor appreciated this step and told me about few points I was wrong at. Secondly to increase my independence I start conducting independent research on payroll aspects to get the better solutions for the company by my own efforts. For that I also discussed the points I had in mind with my colleagues and senior accounts within in the firm to get the constructive feedback which can enable me to take decisions more quickly and efficiently than before. I also started working on thinking more analytically and interpreting information from different point of views to solve problems and to take better decisions. All these steps, helped me a lot in increasing my decision-making skills as an accountant.

 

REFLECTIVE LEARNING ESSAY

This reflection essay includes the reflection of all of my personal and academic challenges and activities I had during the course of last eighteen month being in the life in the United Kingdom. This essay will mainly highlight the critical events which help my professional as well as personal development, Gibb’s reflection model will be used to analyse all the personal activities.

Being the student of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), I decided to do Maters degree from the United Kingdom. And for that reason, I selected BPP University Business School London, for the course of MSc Management with Project Management. I selected specifically the Project Management field, as BPP University was also awarding the students on successful completion of course with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Certificate of Level 7 as well. Another reason of selecting United Kingdom was because if you have degree from any foreign university specially from America, Canada and United Kingdom. Chances of getting job in Pakistan increased to the double in the job market as employers give priority to the candidates having foreign qualifications.

I believe that last eighteen months helped me to developed both professionally as well as personally. And there is clear transformation in me, from when I came in the United Kingdom and now after spending period of eighteen months.

Description of Critical Learning Events

The very first thing I came across when I landed on Heathrow airport was the difference in culture. Being a citizen of Asian country, it was entirely different environment for me and specially because it was my first time I was travelling outside of my country. From language to dressing everything was different and totally westernised. But after coming out of the airport, I realized that I am not alone in London, there are a lot of Asians here as well. That thing gave me courage to live and survive in London. Diversity of culture and nations is the most beautiful thing I like about London.

Not only in the city of London, even in my class there were students from different nationalities. And that thing helped to enhance my knowledge about different countries and also gave me chance to get to know about the cultures they have in their countries. In class we had to work in groups in almost in every module. So, it gave us chance to mingle with different people and also increase interaction skills with people.

Worth noting point in that was about the Module of Strategy where were divided in teams and we had to play CESIM Simulation game to compete the rivals in the mobile industry. It gave me real understanding of what can possibly the scenario for any company if they are in mature industry.

Second event was about my failure of ACCA last exam which I had to do when I came in London. There are also few personal events which happened with me during the stay of last eighteen months and from all these experiences I learnt a lot.

And finally, this report writing of PDP Module about personal reflection, gave me chance to highlight and evaluate the life I spent in United Kingdom and also can do cost-benefit analysis for me that what I gain and at what cost.

Critical Reflecting on Learning Event

Reflection on diversity

As I mentioned above environment of London was totally new for me. And the people in London were so diverse that at first, I got confused but later I start enjoying this as it was unique for me to know about others traditions and norms. But in May, 2017 due to the Manchester Attack, in the area where I lived in London. There were seen few hate crimes like acid attacks, that thing make me upset and for the very first time in life I thought about the side effects of racial issues. After that incident, I became more vigilant and careful while travelling outside specially at night.

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Though there was a definite benefit of working in the diverse culture that one can be able to work in everywhere in the world. According to the research, diversity in workplace increases the positivity and social trust within the workplace (Cui et al., 2015). As I also benefited from this diverse social trust during my work placement at Vision Consulting. Diversity is the need of the modern organizational culture and structure as it helps to take decisions by keeping into mind of all diverse background employees and their suggestions.

 

 

Working in Groups

We were assigned to be work in groups in many modules such as Knowledge Management and Information Systems (KMISS), Strategy, Business Programme and Project Management (BPPM and Leading Business Operations (LBO). But here I only want to highlight the Module of Strategy where we were divided in different teams and we had to play CESIM Simulation Game. That game was about mobile industry which was entering in its mature industrial phase, where it was difficult for new entrants to enter in the industry.

I failed that Module in first attempt because as I mentioned before I was not really good in communicating my thoughts and share my ideas with others. This thing affected me badly, as in a group I was not participating actively, and I was shy in giving my opinions. The other reason why I did not participate well in that Module was because leader of our group was very dominating and always wants to copy his decision due to which later it resulted in argument as other want to copy their decisions as well (Deichmann and Jensen, 2017).

But in second term, when I was again given a chance to play the game, I decided to lead the group. Because until that time, I was little bit confident about myself and also had better idea how to play the game as well as hoe to manage a group. As group and team work is considered as one of the most important skills to be have in the employees for productive results (Gwynne& Gobble 2012). So, now I am confident that I can be a good team player, as I have gained this skills from the class activities held in BPP University.

This working in a team gave me courage to work in BPP University student association as well. As I actively participated in the events of Cruise Halloween Party, Salsa Dance classes and Qawali Night organised by Asian students. 

 

Significant Events of My Life

Important events of my life during the last eighteen months I want to discuss here which changed my personality significantly.

 

Betrayed by Friend

First event was happened when I landed on Heathrow Airport London. I was in contact with one of my friends from Pakistan and he assured me that he will arrange accommodation for me as well as he will come to pick me up from the airport that is why I sent him £600 from Pakistan for my accommodation. I was feeling very relaxed and blessed that thank God I had friend there who is taking pain for me and will help me further as well.

But when I came out of the airport, I couldn’t find anyone. Initially I thought maybe he is late and will be here any minute. I waited for him around 30 minutes and bought a sim from airport lounge and tried to call him, But I was shocked when I heard the tape that ‘Please dial the correct number’. I can’t explain what I was feeling at that time, I felt like I am lost somewhere alone. I sat on a side and after recovering from shock I start thinking what to do. I called to my parents and luckily, they got a contact of one my mother’s friend. I called them and went to their place by using cab.

From this incident I learnt two things: first, never trust blindly anyone and second, there should be always plan B. If plan A is failed there should be any alternative. That’s why now even when I have to go out of London or travel within city, I always check 2-3 alternate routes for it.

Incident at Work

Second event I want to share was happened when I started my job at KFC in East Ham. It was probably my third or fourth day at job when I came across the troubling situation. It was Saturday night, store was very busy at that time and there was long que of customers waiting for their turn.

Around 11 pm, two customers came in the store and they was totally drunk. They waited in the que for about 15 minutes, and then they start shouting loudly. I was serving at the till and it was my first time, I became nervous and under pressure and due to that I took wrong order from the customer. But fortunately, I realized it straight away and cancelled that order. After that I took a decision and advised me to be calm and relaxed and called my colleague to help me out to speed up the que.

At time of closing Manager appreciated that, I handled the pressure very well. Later, until now whenever I came across such situation I am always composed and deal customers with respect and care.

Failure in my ACCA Final Exam

Last event I want to share is about my failure in the last paper remaining for ACCA. Rest of the paper I had already given and passed in Pakistan, before coming to the United Kingdom. Last exam of Taxation I had to do after Term 2, which was delayed as I got busy and I had chance to give during Term 3.

As before I passed all papers with good marks, so I was confident that I can do that one easily as well. That’s why I haven’t gave full attention to that subject. And on exam day I attempted paper of only 75 marks as I was overconfident that I will pass it. But the result was opposite, I got only 40 marks out of 75.

After that, I am still repenting on my act that what I have done and realized one thing that being confident is good but being over-confident had negative effect on your progress and performance.

Conclusion

From above reflection and professional development report, it is concluded that last eighteen months were the most productive months of my life. I learnt a lot both professionally and personally. And gained the skills of self-awareness, working within in the teams and how to survive in multicultural environment. Moreover, professional development skills gained include time management, decision making, communication and interpersonal skills and attention to details. I believe these professional skills will help me out in future career as a successful accountant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

  • Chong, V, & Monroe, G (2015), ‘The impact of the antecedents and consequences of job burnout on junior accountants’ turnover intentions: a structural equation modelling approach’, Accounting & Finance, 55, 1, pp. 105-132, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 26 October 2018.
  • Cui, V, Vertinsky, I, Robinson, S, & Branzei, O 2018, ‘Trust in the Workplace: The Role of Social Interaction Diversity in the Community and in the Workplace’, Business & Society, 57, 2, pp. 378-412, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 26 October 2018.
  • Daff, L. (2013). Accounting Students’ Reflections on a Course to Enhance their Interpersonal Skills. Accounting Education, 22(6), pp.563-581.
  • Deichmann, D. and Jensen, M. (2017). I can do that alone…or not? How idea generators juggle between the pros and cons of teamwork. Strategic Management Journal, 39(2), pp.458-475
  • Gibbs, G., (1988) Learning By Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods, Further Education Unit, Oxford, Oxford Polytechnic,
  • Gray, F.E., (2010). Specific oral communication skills desired in new accountancy graduates. Business communication quarterly73(1), pp.40-67.
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  • Tout, S., Ghazzawi, K., El Nemar, S. and Choughari, R., (2014). The major role accountants play in the decision making process. International Journal of Finance and Accounting3(5), pp.310-315.
  • Webb, J, & Chaffer, C 2016, ‘The expectation performance gap in accounting education: a review of generic skills development in UK accounting degrees’, Accounting Education, 25, 4, pp. 349-367, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 October 2018.
  • YONGMEI, L, JUN, X, & WEITZ, B 2011, ‘The Role of Emotional Expression and Mentoring in Internship Learning’, Academy Of Management Learning & Education, 10, 1, pp. 94-110, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 26 October 2018.

 

 

 

APPENDIX I

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  •  One of individuals significant skill which is that he likes to integrate into a new environment and after being here in London it becomes more strengthen specially in BPP University where i experienced lots off cultural events from different customs.
  • Secondly individual has develop a communication skill in which individual lacks back home sine individual have done an odd job as cashier in a fast food restaurant gives him immense confidence.
  •  Language fluency means to speak in English is not good enough to survive in England specially at university level because with out a proper way of communication you cant understand the lecture and not being able question your  lecturer about your queiry.so know after being in BPP university individual has command on its English.
  • Individual now has develop another skill which is know becomes its strength since individual starts participating in universities social events means awareness of cultural events and how to organise them and make it successful. E.g. qawali night salsa dance and cruise dinners for students.

Weaknesses

  • Don’t like share the ideas with other which in results individual faces so many loss in recent which was in shape of exam failure because of hesitation to discus the point with teacher.
  • Lacks in understanding of road maps which in result individual got late in class for so many occasions.
  • Lacks in punctuality in shape of time management.

Opportunities

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