Caroline Partridge has been helping to grow her family-run software company, devProcess in Newport, since its formation 20 years ago.
Initially she helped with editing of software manuals and marketing materials while raising a young family, but when her children started school, she found she could commit much more time.
And thanks to her part-time studies at Telford College, she is now armed with three AAT accounting qualifications which have helped to improve the cashflow and financial management of the business.
Before settling down in Shropshire, Caroline worked for various large business and finance firms in the south of England, so was drawn to the administration and finance aspect of the family business.
“I decided that it would be worth gaining a relevant qualification to support the job that I was doing in the office, and that’s where I learned about the AAT,” she said.
Telford College’s AAT accounting qualifications cover three different levels – foundation, advanced and professional.
“For a busy, working mum, there’s always something or someone wanting your attention,” Caroline said. “My decision to attend the day-release course meant that I could solely concentrate on a full day of study with no distractions.
“Local companies are aware that AAT students at Telford College achieve good grades.
“Around half of us were being financed by their employer and the other half were self-funding in order to improve their opportunities at their current job, or re-train as a bookkeeper or accountant.
“Attending college gave me the opportunity to meet other adults on my course. Ages ranged between 18 and 50 or so.
“Some of us used to study together in the college library at the end of the day, working through problem questions or revising together. Supporting one another helped us all to stretch ourselves and push ourselves to the end of the course year.
“I loved it so much, I have ended up qualifying as an AAT certified accounts technician.”
She added: “AAT has helped my job in many ways, small and large. Achieving these qualifications has given me a firm grounding in practical accounting and has improved my financial knowledge and skills.
“I can now draft financial statements as well as manage budgets and evaluate financial performance. The techniques and processes learnt at college can be applied directly at work.”
She added: “If you wish to consider taking an AAT qualification at college, I would whole-heartily recommend it. The fact that you don’t have to commit to three full years as soon as you sign up, I found, is a big bonus.
“It means you can set yourself a target on achieving one qualification, and then assess, before choosing whether to move up to the next level.
“For those who have maybe taken quite a lot of time out since they last studied, there is a discipline that gets developed by having to go to college every week plus having additional home study exercises.
“The other benefit that I found was that the college tutors were always available to answer your questions, however basic. They were very good at getting to know where each student was at, and then supporting them at that individual level.
“If you are looking to gain your first job in finance, studying with AAT will most likely help get your foot through the door of an organisation. There are plenty of opportunities out there.”