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PhilosophyPart of Humanities

Ziaur Rahman  Philosophy and Maths , 1999

Management Accountant at The Royal British Legion

Ziaur Rahman 's Photo

Hi, I'm Ziaur Rahman and I studied Philosophy and Maths within Philosophy at the University of Southampton.

I really enjoyed studying at Southampton, as it was a fun and friendly place, with plenty to do and lots of opportunities, facilities and support for all areas of student life.

What made you select the University of Southampton?

I first looked at Southampton as it had a great reputation for the Undergraduate subjects I was considering, but made my final decision soon after I arrived for an informal day trip to look around. I was really impressed by all the green spaces in the city, and the friendliness and feel of the campus itself. 

What is Southampton like as a place to study?

I really enjoyed studying at Southampton, as it was a fun and friendly place, with plenty to do and lots of opportunities, facilities and support for all areas of student life.

What did you enjoy about the course?

I studied science and maths A Levels, so really enjoyed covering something a bit different for my degree. I found Maths and Philosophy went really well together, with the combination and overlaps giving me lots of insights about both areas, and better understanding on how to use them practically in real life.

What opportunities did you take up that really added value to your experience as a student?

Right from the start, I joined as many Clubs and Societies as I could in order to try out new things and make new friends. I later joined a few Committees, and was elected to the Student Union Executive – through this I developed all sorts of skills that have been invaluable in getting into and ahead in my profession.

How did your studies and experience at Southampton shape your future?

One of my favourite extra-curricular activities at Southampton was volunteering in the Rag (student fundraising) Department, and this started me out in my career path. Following graduation, I was elected as Rag Co-Ordinator in the Students’ Union then moved into a variety of fundraising and marketing roles. Following a fairly recent career change I moved into management accountancy, but staying within the charity sector.

Tell us about your current role?

My job title is Management Accountant (Business Systems) at The Royal British Legion. I maintain and develop our annual budget planning and monthly reporting systems and processes. These allow managers and Directors to see and understand their progress against strategic and financial plans. I am a fully qualified “number cruncher” but as with my degree, the numbers are only half the story. Equally important is to my being able to understand the what/where/why behind the numbers, and being able to explain this to non-technical colleagues such that this translates into, and supports effective business decisions and successful activities.

When you graduated what was your ambition and do you feel you’ve achieved it?

On graduation, I wanted to be successful and fulfilled in any future career, work in a strong team and also to ensure I did my part to help other people – initially I looked at joining the Armed Forces. Over the past 15 years, I’ve managed to combine all the above, enjoying a professionally-qualified career in the charity sector and also serving as an Army Reservist, including seeing operational service overseas.

Do you have any future ambitions?

As I have relatively recently changed to Management Accountancy, and really enjoy this area, I want to concentrate on developing my professional skills and business expertise. I may need to move to a more commercial sector to experience some technical areas, but one clear ambition is to become a chief executive or otherwise a Trustee, back in the Third Sector. I would also like if I can, to work overseas, as I do enjoy new experiences and opportunities, and international experience is something that really helps Accountants stand out and develop a wider range of skills.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of how varied my life has been so far, and my time at Southampton set me up well for this. I’ve served in a war zone with the Army, hold half a dozen professional memberships and academic qualifications, and most of all worked in some great organisations and teams to do my part to make a difference to all sorts of people and communities.

What advice would you give to a student starting their degree at Southampton?

Achieving a good degree is of course important and the primary output of an undergraduate career – however there is so much more to experience and learn. There are varied opportunities on offer that while being enjoyable in themselves and an integral part of the campus experience, that also make someone far more employable. The sometimes elusive or ill defined soft skills that employers demand these days for the best jobs and careers, are all on offer and far easier to acquire on campus than in most other areas of life.

I would also strongly advise that any student before they graduate, to get involved with the University’s Alumni community. As well as being able to attend some really good reunions and catch up friends you lose touch with, they are also an invaluable networking resource for job hunting and getting careers advice.

If you had your time at University again is there anything you’d do differently?

When I started at Southampton I wasn’t sure what I wanted from my time there, and didn’t initially recognise how valuable and useful all my experiences there had been. If I were to do it again, I would be a bit more focussed and strive for a slightly better class of degree, and also use my experiences to apply for formal work experience and graduate trainee schemes from an early stage.

What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector? What could they be doing now to make themselves more employable when they graduate in the future?

Lots of graduates are rightly attracted to in careers in finance and accountancy – personally I really enjoy being in this sector and strongly recommend it. Hard skills such as intelligence and numerical skills are absolutely crucial, and are rigorously tested in the very challenging professional exams required by all the professional accounting bodies. However for Management Accountancy in particular, the numbers and calculations are merely the raw data, and being able to analyse, plan and above all communicate and implement business decisions is far more critical. Any opportunities to develop these soft skills, whether organising a campus event, or developing better communication working in a team environment, will make a difference.

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