Precious Akinmoju is the Head of Strategic Financial Planning, Reporting and Analysis at the Department for International Trade. Having started her early career in the retail and leisure industries, Precious’ move into public finance has seen her make rapid progress in central government finance, from accountancy trainee to her present leadership role.
As part of the UK government’s Financial Management Development Scheme, Precious joined the UK Home Office in 2013 while studying for her CIPFA professional qualification. At the Home Office, she experienced a diverse range of roles, working in a transactions team within the department, as a business partner and grant champion to arm’s-length bodies and as Finance Contract Lead for the Home Office’s Immigration Platform Technology project.
In 2015, Precious secured a move to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) working in finance policy and commercial finance. Following her graduation with CIPFA in 2016, Precious’ next move was to the Department for Education to take up the role of Finance Business Partner.
Within two years of graduating, Precious had secured her first leadership role, and today she can be found working as the Department for International Trade’s Head of Strategic Financial Planning, Reporting and Analysis.
Was there one thing that attracted you to a career in public finance and accounting?
Actually, there were three! People, pace and variety.
One of the things I personally find most attractive about working in public finance and accounting are the people you meet. On a daily basis, I have the pleasure of engaging with people who are dedicated and passionate about what they do and who are truly making a difference. We are all guided by a similar code of ethics and values, and this is something I would not give up.
The pace of work and the variety of tasks mean that in any given day, week or month I can be dealing with a different issue or challenge to solve. There are late nights and sometimes frustrating moments, but these are countered by the amazing and dedicated people I work with. Plus, it’s great knowing that what I do will have an impact on a national scale and make a difference.
What was your route into your professional accounting qualification with CIPFA?
Originally my career started outside the public sector. I worked within a complex site and operational management roles within the cinema industry. It was during this time that I realised I genuinely liked working in finance, so I chose to then apply for a financial management development scheme. From this scheme, I was able to gain a professional CIPFA accounting qualification as well as work experience through placements.
How have you benefited from becoming a CPFA?
I was attracted to public sector accounting because it is fundamentally values driven. I ultimately wanted a role where I could make a positive impact to people’s lives. Becoming a CPFA enabled me to move from being a trainee to holding a leadership position within central government. The other benefit to undertaking the CIPFA PQ was the valuable work experience I gained through placements. This enabled me to broaden my horizons, garner some excellent experience, and to thrive in different settings.
How is your membership of CIPFA continuing to support you professionally?
CIPFA is continuously evolving, and whether I attend the conferences or read about the latest developments, it enables me to stay ahead of the curve and on top of my game.
What is your number one piece of advice to new CIPFA graduates?
Be proactive when planning your career. Looking back, I was faced with a series of decisions and opportunities, and in some instances, I went with the tide. One of the biggest things I’ve learnt since embarking on my career within public sector finance and accounting is to write down and discuss your career plan with a trusted mentor or advisor. This will help you to make proactive decisions when opportunity knocks.
If you don’t know what you want to do as a career, that’s fine, but there are alternative ways of getting the same answers. You will know what you like and what you are good at, so start there with your plan and find a job that you enjoy. The CIPFA professional qualification will help you gain a solid understanding of the array of opportunities on offer.
Time and time again since qualifying with CIPFA, people have opened doors for me on high-profile and fascinating projects. Don’t be afraid to take up these opportunities when they are offered to you.