What is it like to be a Consilium Graduate trainee?

When it comes to deciding where to begin your Chartered Accountancy career after graduation, there are plenty of options. While graduate training programmes might all seem the same, there are significant differences to be aware of. Differences that can go a long way to ensuring a traineeship is the right fit for you.

Recently, we caught up with 2nd-year ICAS Graduate trainee Sadiyah Ali to find out what it’s like to be a graduate trainee with Consilium and work towards Chartered Accountancy status.

Sadiyah, you’re into your 2nd year of Consilium’s graduate training programme with ICAS, how has it been so far?

It has been an amazing experience since I started in August 2022. I felt so welcomed at Consilium from day one and throughout. It almost feels like a family.

You feel like you are contributing to the company right from the start. As it is a smaller firm, you start on projects and gain practical experience much quicker than you might do elsewhere. Talking to friends in larger firms, they don’t seem to have had as much exposure to clients and those experiences in their first year of CA training. 

What is the working culture and environment like for a CA trainee at Consilium?

Everyone is very welcoming, and you are given all the necessary training and support. You aren’t expected to know or master everything after first being shown it. The partners and seniors are very open about their experiences as ICAS trainees, making you feel less intimidated and nervous going into it.

You feel like a valuable part of the company instead of just another number. The partners and managers want to see you succeed and believe in you and do everything they can to support you.

Working and studying for professional exams is a challenge. How much support have you had over your first year?

I have had continual support from my colleagues throughout my time at Consilium. They have been generous with their time and have passed on their knowledge and skills. They have taught me how to approach difficult tasks and manage my workload. They have worked with me and adapted their teaching methods to help me understand difficult processes and tasks as they understand that everyone has different ways of learning.

graduate trainees quote: I hve had continual support from my colleagues throughout my time at Consilium. They have been generous with their time and have passed on their knowledge and skills. Sadiyah Ali. second year graduate trainee with Consilium Chartered Accountants.

The company is focused on their staff. They understand that we all have a life outside of work and things may come up that are out of your control that need your attention. For example, a close family member had become quite unwell during my exams. After speaking with my managers, who were very understanding and supportive of my situation, I felt more able to focus on my work.

How does that compare to friends and ICAS colleagues who are completing their graduate training in industry or at larger firms?

A couple of big differences are in terms of the support we receive and the working culture. Consilium is very attentive to their employees and we have regular formal and informal catch-ups to discuss progress and to see if we need more support.

We also have a social committee that plans multiple activities and work nights out for the whole company. This helps to ensure we have enough downtime and it’s not just work, study, repeat. It is great for getting to know colleagues and continues to build the teamwork element that is part of our ‘Be Consilium’ ethos.

What types of accountancy work have you undertaken in your first year on the Consilium graduate programme?

Starting as an auditor you hear people suggest that you will be doing the same things day in and day out but that’s not true at all! Consilium has such a diverse client base that no two audits are the same. We have clients in sectors like pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, hospitality and retail, as well as charities and co-operatives. 

The concept of each task is similar, but the approach differs for every client. For example, each client’s sales, purchases, wages and other processes are different, meaning that you need to use the skills you have acquired and tailor your approach to each one. It offers a broad mix of experiences that build your expertise for the CA exams you sit each year. 

Graduate trainee quote from S Ali: I am now helping the new starts with tasks that a year ago, I was just learning. This puts into perspective how far I've come and how good the learning environment is at Consilium Chartered Accountants.

I’ve also spent time with our Corporate Finance team in the past year. It has been really interesting to support them with work on grant applications and financial due diligence projects. I think this is quite unusual for a first-year trainee, so it just shows how wide-ranging your practical work experiences are at Consilium and the scope for professional development.

Any words of advice for undergraduates thinking about training with Consilium?

I would 100% recommend joining Consilium as a trainee. Having to switch from university student to working with multiple clients in a range of industries can be difficult to grasp. You can find yourself questioning your abilities and skills. However, the strong and supportive culture at Consilium helps alleviate those concerns and has been key to my success so far.

As a second-year trainee, I am now helping the new starts with tasks that a year ago, I was just learning myself. This puts into perspective how far I’ve come and how good the learning environment at Consilium is.

Ready to launch your accountancy career with Consilium?

Learn more about Consilium’s graduate training programme and how to become a CA. You can also connect with Consilium on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Hear from more alumni of our Graduate training programme including Corporate Finance partner Linzi Wilson.

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