It feels like only a few months ago that I turned up to our Bradford office, hugely overdressed in a full suit, for my first day on Virgin Media’s Finance Graduate Scheme. But this month marks the end of my second year on the scheme, with only one more placement to go.
My career started off in our Management Accounts team in Bradford, reporting all the costs across our support functions. This gave me a great overview of the scope of activities that Virgin Media are involved in, such as: corporate events; employee benefits; our property portfolio; legal cases; and recruitment activity. The role also involved working closely with our offshore team in Bangalore and overseeing their work; which added a completely new aspect to my role. I came in with fairly little knowledge about accounting or finance, but my team were very helpful (and patient!) whilst I got up to scratch.
I then moved South to Hook, joining our Virgin Media Business (B2B) side of the company, as a Finance Business Partner – a role that I’ve just finished. This shifted the focus from reporting on results to analysing them, and using this understanding to forecast future performance. The role also involved working with the operational teams in the business (such as sales, marketing, and commercial), assisting them with business cases for new ideas, and liaising with them around budget-setting. I was working within the Small Office area of Virgin Media Business, which is growing at an amazing rate, so it was great to be part of such a dynamic environment.
A blog from a Finance Graduate wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) qualification. Whilst it’s not always easy to find the time to work through it, the graduate scheme’s generous study package certainly does help. You can choose how to study (in classrooms or online), and can study at your own pace to a large extent, so if you’re going through a busy period elsewhere (or just fancy a break), you can make your own study path. The course also ties in quite well with the placements I’ve had – starting in the detail and learning core accounting skills, to then moving up to a broader perspective, until you’re looking at strategic issues. I’m only two exams away from finishing now – so hopefully I’ll be fully qualified early in 2018.
Outside of the day job, there’s been a lot of extra-curricular stuff I’ve been involved with. This involves a charity day in London raising money for our partner charity, Scope; quarterly Finance grad meetings where we get in key speakers from across the business; the annual grad and intern summer event; and taking part in assessment days (it’s much more relaxing being on the other side of the interview table!). The most notable element would have to be my attendance on the board of Virgin Media Mobile Finance Ltd – a registered company within Virgin Media. This has given me exposure to the variety of issues the company faces, as well as seeing first-hand how a number of our key management personnel operate, including our CFO.
Looking forwards, I’m about to start a new placement in our Group Strategy team. The team look at a wide-range of items, ranging from mergers and acquisitions, to our five-year company-wide long range plan, to analysing market share, to how the economy could affect Virgin Media. This should help me see the bigger picture of the company, and look beyond core financial metrics to broaden my knowledge and understanding of the company as a whole. Hopefully, with these developed capabilities I’ll be well-placed to roll off the scheme into a permanent role in a year’s time!