Feb 2022

Introducing our latest signatories

This month, we are delighted to welcome our three new signatories, Abcam, Saffery Champness and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust. Here, we meet the organisations and hear their plans for the year ahead.

First up, Abcam’s Benjamin Holt, Finance Director and Nikki Scarr, Global Head of HR join us.

Hi both! Please tell us a bit more about what Abcam does?

Nikki: Our name comes from “Antibody” and “Cambridge”. We were founded in 1998 and have been on a mission ever since to support life scientists globally by identifying, developing, and distributing high-quality biological reagents and tools critical to research, drug discovery and diagnostics.

Benjamin:  I am proud to work for a life sciences company that is helping to better understand, diagnose and potentially treat diseases and therefore positively impacting society. We have benefited from several years of rapid growth and are listed on both the Alternative Investment Market in London and Nasdaq in New York.  

Why did Abcam join Access Accountancy? 

Benjamin: We want to make our finance team at Abcam representative of the socio-economic demographic of wider society, and that is very aligned with the goals of Access Accountancy. The ICAEW team will really help us understand how we are tracking towards this goal via benchmarking and practical advice. We hope our work experience opportunities will give under-represented talent a first step into a career in finance.      

Any reason why you joined Access Accountancy now?

Benjamin: We are a finance team of c. 100 globally and the first corporate to join Access Accountancy. We look forward to collaborating with and learning from fellow signatories who have been Access Accountancy participants for several years.  

How is Abcam working towards socioeconomic representation?

Nikki: We have been working with organisations to provide opportunities for those from less-privileged backgrounds for several years with outreach, lab placements and work experience. However, to date this has been focussed mainly on STEM. We’re now looking to expand this outside of the lab and showcase the variety of careers available in life sciences where you can have an impact on our mission without being at the bench.   

In Nov 2020 we launched our first Social Mobility ERG, establishing groups in EMEA, US and APAC to measure social mobility at Abcam, create a diverse talent pool for us and the wider life sciences community, open doors for those less privileged and influence other organisations to do the same.  

We’re proud that we’re already having an impact and seeing those students who have benefited from these opportunities take their first step into their careers, our colleagues see so many benefits from being involved too but we know we can do more.  

What are you hoping to get out of your first year of involvement with Access Accountancy?

Benjamin: We’re looking forward to hosting our first work experience participants around Easter 2022. We hope to offer an insight into what a career in Finance looks like and equip participants with practical skills including CV writing, interview workshops and time management.

Do you have any plans or initiatives that you hope to launch in the future or that you recently launched to improve socio economic representation within your organisation? 

Nikki: We’re running our first Diversity & Inclusion census in January 2022 and are excited to better understand the diversity of our global workforce, and how we can best benefit from various talents and perspectives. We’ll be using these results to inform next year’s priorities. We will expand our work experience and outreach, including through Access Accountancy. We’re looking forward to gaining knowledge from other organisations on the Progression Working Group and working towards levelling the playing field for careers in Finance together.

Ian Williams, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition at Saffery Champness is next to take the hot seat. 

Hi Ian, how would you describe what Saffery Champness does?

Ian: We are a top 20 firm of Chartered Accountants and Registered Fiduciaries whose concept of service is to solve problems, take advantage of opportunities and turn advice into action.

For over 160 years we have provided advice to our clients and, thanks to our distinctive partnership culture, we work together to deliver the very best for them. 

Why have your organisation decided to join Access Accountancy? 

Ian: As a Top employer, Certified Top Employers Search (top-employers.com)and accredited Investors in People organisation, we are really keen to build on the work we are doing in the profession. We are also members of the institute of student employers. Access Accountancy was a next step for us. We have been aware of Access Accountancy through various relationships we have with other accountancy firms and we felt that this was the right time to join. As a firm, our culture has always been very inclusive but we felt this was the right time to commit our time to Access Accountancy. 

Any success stories that you’d like to share?

Ian: Jamie Lane heads up our school leaver programme. He is now a Partner in our Bournemouth office, and joined the accountancy profession as a school leaver. 

Jamie says: “Having joined the accountancy profession as a school leaver in 2003, I am passionate about the great benefits of recruiting school leavers, both from the employee and employer perspective. I joined Saffery nearly three years ago as a partner, and have the benefit of leading our internal group which is focused on improving school leaver recruitment within the firm.  We have made great strides in the last 18 months, focusing on changing internal attitudes, our recruitment processes, and most importantly attraction of great candidates which is key. The school leaver recruitment market is not as ‘mature’ as the graduate route at the moment, but you can already see this improving as more organisations change their historical recruitment attitudes.” 

What are you hoping to get out of your first year of involvement with Access Accountancy?

We are hoping to make friends with other firms, learn new ideas and contribute to the Access Accountancy’s purpose in working towards everyone having an equal chance of accessing the accountancy profession. Our new four-year business plan is being prepared at the moment which will outline our 2022-2026 overall business strategy. Our commitment to Access Accountancy and its aims will undoubtedly be in this plan. 

And finally, here is Dr Lore Lippman, Deputy Director of Finance at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust. 

How would you describe what your organisation does?

Dr Lore: We are an acute NHS Hospital with circa 3,000 staff. 

Why have your organisation decided to join Access Accountancy?

Dr Lore: I think it is an important initiative which had not yet been taken up by the NHS Finance community. I think it is the right thing to do for us and it should help us build a pipeline of staff for the future. 

What is the current situation within your organisation with regards to socioeconomic representation?

Dr Lore: As an NHS Trust we of course endeavour to represent society as a whole. In NHS Finance, we do the same but it is widely recognised that NHS Finance in particular is somewhat skewed in terms of gender balance once one looks at the very top (Board) positions. As an employer, we have also signed up to the Kickstart Programme in Finance so we are trying to address social mobility challenges through AA and the Kickstart Programme.  

What are you hoping to get out of your first year of involvement with Access Accountancy?

Dr Lore: To be able to showcase this programme in the wider NHS Finance community and to encourage more organisations to offer this work experience. I was invited to speak at the recent NHS Finance Inclusion conference about work experience pilot we had just completed.  

Do you have any plans or initiatives that you hope to launch in the future or that you recently launched to improve socio economic representation within your organisation?

Dr Lore: We are currently hosting our first Kickstart student in Finance and we are planning the next round of AA work experience, ideally with other NHS hospitals in the East of England region.