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Going back to the classroom: Marsh helps pair realise their dreams of becoming accountants

The recession has made many people want to train for new careers or higher-paying positions.

But when you have children to raise and bills to pay, taking time out to study is easier said than done.

However, for Sandra Ottley and Sam Botelho, having Marsh IAS Management Services as their employer made it possible for both women to pursue their dream of becoming certified chartered accountants.

Both were already working as captive associates at Marsh.

“I wanted to be an accountant since high school,” said Ms Ottley, a graduate of Whitney Institute, who has worked at Marsh since 2000.

While at Marsh she took classes at Bermuda College, which Marsh also supported, and eventually graduated in 2008 with an associate degree in Business Administration.

Hoping to eventually become a certified accountant, she then pursued a BA through the College and Canada’s Mount Saint Vincent University programme, which again Marsh supported her in, and helped with paying the fees and allowing her the time off to attend classes. But it wasn’t easy to progress, she said, working full-time and raising five children, now of ages 13 to 25.

Ms Ottley decided to recommit to finally fulfilling her goal of becoming a chartered accountant when she saw a notice on the Marsh bulletin board that the company was supporting a new three-year programme run locally by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) through Bermuda College.

“I was getting older and thought this may be my last chance,” Ms Ottley said. “The programme made sense and once you finished classes and practical experience you would be certified.”

She began last September, taking night classes while continuing to work at Marsh.

On completion, the company would have helped her to pay over $12,000 in fees for the classes.

The cost through the College starts at around $665 per course, and it runs Monday to Friday from 6pm to 9pm.

Ms Ottley said fitting in time for the courses and tests was not easy, the course work was really tough and extremely challenging at times, but she has stuck it out: “I am just thankful Marsh gave me the opportunity to reach my goal of becoming a certified chartered accountant. It’s been a lifelong dream and finally there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Sam Botelho was also set on pursuing a career as an accountant, a career that’s very transferable and plentiful in the job field today.

She did her BA degree through the Bermuda College/Mount St Vincent programme, graduating in 2008 and started working full time for Marsh.

She eventually felt the time was right to discuss ways to progress within the company and her career and her manager at Marsh advised her to take the certified accounting course. She put together a package of what her goals were and how she could accomplish them, and it was presented to the Marsh training committee, which approved it, including payment of all fees up front — close to the sum of $10,000.

Ms Botelho, a Warwick Secondary and CedarBridge graduate, added: “Marsh has been gracious enough to provide me with three hours a week study time. Every Wednesday I attend a live two-hour class online and then I watched class videos — a lot better than going to night classes as you can go back and re-watch them as many times as you need to. But it takes a lot discipline. And yes it is harder than I thought and requires a lot more time and discipline than I first thought.”

She has been in the programme for just about a year now, and pointed out that three years at first sounded like enough time to complete the course to become certified, however, it is likely going to take longer than that.

She suggested other young Bermudians who can get their foot in the door of an international company, take advantage of every opportunity the company has to offer you.

“A lot is also about asking,” she said, adding “I would not be where I am today without Marsh.”

There are lots of qualifications you can gain as you study and train for the ACCA Qualification with Bermuda College.

On your way to ACCA membership you can achieve:

Ÿa Diploma in Accounting and Business

Ÿan Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Business

Ÿa BSc (Hons) degree in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University

The ACCA Qualification should take about five years to complete; this is based working full time, studying part time and registration with the minimum entry requirements. The length of time can vary depending on your individual situation and you will have up to 10 years from the date you register to complete the ACCAQualification exams.

Pursuing a dream: Marsh IAS Management Services employees Sandra Ottley and Samantha Botelho, who were able to go back to school with the help of their employer to study to become certified accountants. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published May 08, 2013 at 11:11 am (Updated May 08, 2013 at 11:10 am)

Going back to the classroom: Marsh helps pair realise their dreams of becoming accountants

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