‘It’s exciting being at the forefront, and feeling like I have some influence gives me a real buzz’ says Simon Cooper an accountancy trainee for Waitrose.

Having done a degree in ancient history, philosophy and Italian, I joined Waitrose five years ago on their standard retail graduate scheme and worked in branches as a manager for three years. I decided to switch careers when I saw an advert for an internal move into finance. My brother is an accountant, as are a lot of people I graduated with at Durham University, and I knew they really enjoyed their work.

My role took me into a team called Strategic Planning and Analysis, where I was required to do a lot of high-level reporting for our buyers – giving them monthly reports on their performance and looking into how the market is holding up. I immediately liked the way it was at the sharp end of business and enjoyed feeling that I was involved in looking at how things were going forward on a global level.

As part of my role, I’ve been expected to do the CIMA accounting qualifications, and two years on I’m just a few months away from finishing. They have been extremely hard work and I’ve had to give up quite a few weekends and evenings to study, but Waitrose has given me a very generous study leave package. I get five days off for each paper and come exam time, my workload is slightly reduced to allow me to focus more on my studies.

My role is now wider than when I first joined the team and among the things I do are budgets for new branches. It’s exciting being at the forefront of what Waitrose does and feeling that I have some influence gives me a real buzz. I also enjoy the management side of things. Ideally, I’d like to work my way up the finance ladder in Waitrose – perhaps manage a team of other finance people.