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Tehjinder Bach

Management account apprentice

Tejinder swapped student cards for business cards and now manages a 60 million pound budget as a management accounting apprentice at BT. With plans to be fully qualified as an AC MA/CGMA by 21, Tejinder is a rising star at this global telecoms giant.

Why did you decide to start an apprenticeship?

When I applied for uni the fees were £9000 a year so it was an easy decision to look for an alternative. More important than uni costs was the quality of BT’s apprenticeship programme. It’s like a graduate scheme so I’m learning more relevant things earlier than if I went to uni, I get paid, and I’ve got the CIMA qualification to back me up.

What’s it like working at BT?

The financial training at BT means you rotate every 18 months to see a different part of the business. Right now I’m a business partner or the ‘finance guy’ for an operations team of 150 engineers. It’s my job to work with them to forecast budgets and make sure they’re reaching their operating expenditure for things like travel spending and overtime costs. It’s a proper management accounting role, so I’ve got to be on the ball, to help the team reach their objectives.

Is work life what you expected?

I didn’t think I’d have so much responsibility so soon, after three months I was managing 60 million pound budgets! Making investment decisions on a huge amount of money is really exciting and more than I expected. There are weekends where I look forward to work, I know it sounds boring, but when you get the results you’re looking for the job satisfaction is huge. I love it.

How has studying CIMA helped with your job?

I’ve finished the CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting and almost everything I studied is used day-to-day in my job. Things like journals, balance sheets, variance analysis etc. When I tell people about the scheme and CIMA they get really excited because the qualification is globally recognised, gives you job security and is more practical than what you learn at uni.

Where do you see your career going?

I won’t be leaving BT anytime soon. It’s a big company with big opportunities, but feels like we’re all working towards the same thing. When I finish my apprenticeship I’ll be ready to apply for a finance analyst or finance manager role. In ten years time I want to be a senior finance manager and have my own team of accountants to mentor the same way I’m being mentored now.

How do you balance work and study?

My manager recently completed the CIMA qualification so she has great advice about balancing work and study. I’m able to bring my books to work and study when I have free time, my work mates are happy to answer my questions and I can take study leave when I need it. Study leave is really important to me, when I’m off my manager encourages me to focus on exams and not to worry about work. I’m really lucky to have support like this, it’s a big plus.

What advice would you give to school leavers looking into apprenticeships?

Don’t be scared about not going to uni, it was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. An apprenticeship is the same thing, you’re still getting a qualification plus you’ve got the backing of CIMA. I’ve got a three year head start on graduates so I don’t regret not going to uni.

How did you spend your first pay cheque?

This apprenticeship pays really well. It’s money in the pocket and because I live at home and have no responsibilities I can afford to buy a car, go shopping or spend as I wish. I can’t remember what I spent my first pay cheque on but I used my first bonus to go to Portugal for the weekend. To get a bonus as an apprentice is a huge incentive to work harder and perform to the top of your ability.

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