Sectors and specialisms:
Public sector

The view from... Debbie Kirkley FCCA
Advisory accountant at HMRC Salford, Jack Russell owner and autobiography reader, UK

My day starts when my alarm goes off at 5.30am in Blackpool. I catch the 6.30am train to Manchester, when the 80-minute journey often rocks me back to sleep again. I work in an open-plan, multidisciplined office with lots of activity going on around me. 

I provide advice to support accounting debates being undertaken by our staff up and down the country with their accounting clients and agents. I help ensure they are robust enough to withstand scrutiny by the courts. 

As a public sector financial accountant, my experience has been focused on producing and auditing public sector accounts. This year I changed government departments and have a new role focusing on private sector commercial accounting. The two are very different as I’m now accounting for shares, goodwill, corporation tax and debt instruments, which – coupled with the complexities of getting to grips with tax avoidance schemes and litigation processes – makes my role very challenging!

I like that my work is commercial accounts-based even though it’s a public sector job. I work with some of the best commercial accountants around and I learn so much from them. I’m also learning more about tackling tax avoidance and the litigation process. Working in the public sector provides an opportunity for a diverse career path. 

I’d like to improve the public’s perception of the public sector, as often only the bad news stories get published. There has been constant change since I started in 1988, as the sector embraces new ways of working to improve the customer experience, while safeguarding taxpayers’ money. 

My proudest professional experience came from working for the Department of Work and Pensions. I streamlined its IFRS-based annual report and accounts. Following this, I collaborated with the Treasury and Deloitte on an initiative to simplify and streamline accounts across government. 

I would advise others not to shy away from learning something new. As well as technical accounting and finance skills, try to become a more rounded professional by developing your soft and leadership skills. Step out of your comfort zone.

Outside of work I support my local ACCA network by being a panel member. I attend quarterly meetings and represent ACCA at events. I enjoy being with my family and walking our dog, a Jack Russell. I enjoy reading autobiographies and have just started John Lydon’s.