Q&A with Chloe and Emily – Living and working together

Emily Walton and Chloe Gibb are both Business Advisory Services Analysts at AAB, but their job title isn’t the only thing they share.

AAB Life Blog

Blog14th Apr 2021

Emily Walton and Chloe Gibb are both Business Advisory Services Analysts at AAB, but their job title isn’t the only thing they share. We caught up with both of them to gain an insight into what it’s been like to work and live together over the last couple of years, starting from their placement experiences and how they crossed paths, to how they’ve adjusted to working under the same roof at home during lockdown.

Please can you provide a bit of background into your time at AAB?

Emily – Both Chloe & I studied Accounting and Finance at Robert Gordon University and managed to achieve a placement with AAB in the September 2017 intake, along with 5 other students on our course. I was initially placed in Accounting Services, now known as the Business Advisory Group, and after six months moved to our Payroll and Employment Taxes department for the remainder of my placement year. I was able to undertake a wide variation of roles within my placement year due to being placed in such differing departments. This included anything from statutory accounts preparation to assisting in Norwegian tax affairs. Following my placement year, I was asked to join the Business Advisory department as a graduate trainee.

Chloe – I had a very similar placement experience, beginning within our Corporate Tax team for the first six months and then moving to the Accounting Services department for the second half of my placement. This allowed me to be involved in a range of roles gaining valuable experience and knowledge which later helped when returning to University for my final year. I was originally invited back as a graduate trainee within Corporate Tax however, due to the development of the Business Advisory Group following my placement year, I now work alongside our tax compliance team within the Business Advisory Group. This has given me the unique opportunity to gain experience in all aspects of dealing with owner managed businesses including accounts preparation, personal tax and corporation tax.

Emily and Chloe answered 8 more questions about living and working together – click the links below to find out more

Whether their paths crossed before joining AAB.

How long they’ve been living together.

Adjusting to working under the same roof at home during lockdown.

How they’ve found splitting time between work, studying ICAS and time off.

The main changes to their career from the beginning of lockdown to now.

How the Business Advisory Group team have adapted to working from home.

How they both coped with lockdown restrictions.

What they’re most looking forward to when lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

Did your paths cross often before joining AAB?

Chloe – From the Robert Gordon placement intake, very few of us were from the same ‘friendship group’ but during the induction week at AAB we quickly all became friends.

Emily – I think as all seven of us were in the same position at the beginning of placement, so we naturally all became very close very quickly. As AAB encourages as much involvement as possible and interaction between the whole firm, there were multiple events and activities upon joining the firm which allowed us to quickly build friendships, making the early stages of the placement process really enjoyable.

How long have you lived together?

Emily – Before coming back as graduates we decided it made sense to get a flat together rather than living separately and therefore managed to get a flat in July 2019, just prior to starting back at AAB in the August. As we are both placed within Business Advisory we probably spend more time together than most, with an average day being to car share, get to work together, then head straight to the gym.

So you were living together before the UK went into lockdown, how has it been adjusting to working under the same roof at home?

Chloe – We’ve adapted quite well to working from home, and it definitely helps that we’re both in the same situation. I think many people have struggled with WFH due to missing certain aspects of being at the office such as having catch ups with people around you, but it’s been a lot easier having each other as company. Despite both working in the same department, our roles differ as I have a bigger focus on personal and corporation tax, approximately 80/20 tax to accounts work and it’s the opposite for Emily. As we have progressed in our roles and now have our own client portfolios, there have been many instances where Emily will have been involved in the accounts preparation before it’s passed to myself in tax and it’s definitely a much quicker process being able to discuss any points there and then. On top of work, living together has also helped with the stress of exams.

Emily – I’d definitely agree that it helps having someone in the same position as you throughout lockdown and we’ve coped quite well from home. I would definitely find it more of a struggle to not get distracted if I was by myself as we have gotten into a good routine. I think the main downside from working at home is not being around the team on a daily basis, but we have made great use of Microsoft Teams and there’s rarely a day that goes by were you don’t get a catch up with someone. For myself, I was quite often involved in work which involved going out to the client premises, but we have overcome this well and regularly engage in client calls over Teams also. As myself and Chloe undertake a dual role within Business Advisory, it is a huge help that we work so closely as I will on occasion be asked to assist with tax compliance work and it’s helpful having Chloe’s knowledge with this, and vice versa with Chloe and accounts preparation.

You are also both currently studying towards ICAS. How have you found splitting your time between work, studying and time off; and how has this changed compared to when AAB offices were open?

Emily – ICAS has been a huge commitment since our training contract began back in 2019 and we have had quite a different experience to other year groups, with much of the syllabus having been taught online through virtual lectures. I think our whole year group has found this challenging, especially now our home environment where we would usually study has also become our work environment, which made it very difficult to separate the two. I think the main benefit of being in the office was that you could finish your working day and then head home to start your study from fresh, whereas it can be difficult to do this from home after a day of work. AAB is however very generous with the time provided as study leave which allows us to switch off from work for the two weeks prior to exams.

Chloe – It has definitely been more of a challenge than I had originally anticipated, as you hear the stories of ICAS but never really understand until you are sitting the exams yourself. I initially did find the work/study balance difficult but I think it has helped that Emily is in the same situation and we have been able to motivate each other throughout exams. Whilst it has been a challenge with virtual study and exams, the main benefit of ICAS throughout lockdown is definitely that we have had the time to properly focus on our exams without really feeling we have been missing out, so it probably has been one of the best years for us to get through TPS! I also feel very lucky that ICAS went ahead with online exams, as there was a worry at first that the exams would be pushed back which would prolong the whole journey. Other than some initial teething issues with the exam process being moved online, I feel that they have worked well with our year group and haven’t heard of any bad experiences.

What would you say have been the main changes to your career since the beginning of lockdown to now?

Chloe – Having just been promoted to Analyst, I have definitely noticed a difference in my workload and the responsibility I am now given. I was very quickly given a client allocation when I first started back as a Graduate Trainee which I have really benefited from and am now a lot more confident at managing my own workload. The more I progress, the more my workload has changed. I have now assisted with several accounts preparation jobs as opposed to when I first started back, when I solely focused on Tax. Being in a position to prepare the accounts and then complete the tax is very beneficial for both my learning and the clients I work with as the process becomes a lot more efficient.

Emily – Since coming back to AAB I have definitely seen the progression over the last year or so and feel I am being given a much higher level of responsibility within my department. My managers have been very committed to ensuring that I am continually progressing and that I have the opportunities available to allow me to undertake a wide array of work and get involved in areas of interest to myself. I was very quickly given opportunities to engage with clients, giving me a much greater level of exposure.

How would you say the wider Business Advisory Group team have adapted to working from home?

Emily – As a whole, I think the team has done exceptionally well with adapting to working from home, especially regarding supporting the trainees within our department. We have regular catch up calls to check on workload and how the team is coping from home. We have also been encouraged to have regular catch ups with members in the team just so we don’t go for long periods without having some sort of interaction with one another.

Chloe – The team has been very supportive since we began working from home. As the tax compliance team is a smaller group within the Business Advisory Group, we have had daily calls since the start of lockdown to ensure the whole team is communicating. This not only allows the team to catch up but also ensure everyone is coping with their workload.

Obviously this last year has meant we’ve all been faced with some challenges. How have you coped with lockdown restrictions?

Chloe – We tend to go for walks most weekends, like most others there isn’t much else to do right now and it’s also nice to get away from the flat/our workspace!

Emily – Yeah, we’ve been keeping ourselves busy with walks and have had the odd meet up with friends from within the department. A lot of our time throughout lockdown has actually been spent studying for exams, which in a way has been good as it has made the last year go very quickly and it will be nice to leave TPS in lockdown!

What are you most looking forward to when lockdown begins to ease?

Emily – Lockdown has definitely made me realise the need for a good work-life balance, as I think myself and Chloe often find ourselves getting caught up in our working day. Following the same routine each day can become a bit tedious, especially after a year in lockdown, so it will be good to get back to some normality.

Chloe – Now that the restrictions are looking to ease very soon, we’ve already made various plans with the other graduates who joined AAB when we did. The biggest struggle of lockdown has definitely been not being able to see family and friends. It will also be nice to get back to the office at some point and have a change of scenery.

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