Adam Collar is an Accounts Technician for Karrek Accountants, which is based in Cornwall. Through his accountancy work, Adam met Jackie Jenks of IOEE Academy Leapfrog Mountain, when she came onto his books as a new client, but learning about her business inspired him to get further into learning again. We chatted to Adam about their working relationship, and why he believes that learning should never stop.
Adam has years of accountancy experience behind him, and has been working in his current role with Karrek Accountants for six years now. When Jackie came to him as a business client, they began to discuss the work she does with Leapfrog Mountain, and as their professional relationship developed they looked at ways that they could work together with mutual benefit; Adam helping Jackie through his accountancy role, and Jackie helping Adam through her role as mentor and trainer. Adam says:
“We’re a very small firm here, there’s only four of us, which makes in-house training more challenging and perhaps less effective. However, the intimacy of the firm means that we hold very close personal relationships with all of our clients. We get to know about them, their work, their lives - which is how I got to know Jackie - and so I came up with the idea that perhaps our clients should be our ‘in-house’.”
Through Leapfrog Mountain and Karrek Accountants, Karrek employees and clients have access to a variety of bite-sized courses, getting the opportunity to learn new skills and gain extra business insights, and ensuring that they are staying relevant, up-to-date and inspired. Adam says:
“This means we’re able to offer a very personal experience to our clients, showing them ‘here’s a free way to advertise’, or ‘here’s how you can plan for the winter months when you’re struggling to find your tax finances in January’ etc. It means we can work with them, and go the extra mile.”
The fact that these courses offer people the chance to learn throughout their working career also speaks to Adam on a more personal level too. He says:
“I’m not an academic, and I don’t think I retain information like that, but I think that my employment history is an advantage in understanding my clients and what sort of thing they will need from a course. I’m more of a hands-on person, and a lot of my clients are hands-on people too - such as electricians, plasterers, bakers - and it gives people a realistic way of learning that means they don’t need to take loads of time out of their work schedule. People can’t afford to do that. For me, bite-sized courses like these are absolutely fantastic because as soon as I’ve done it, I can then put the new skills into practice. Some people go to college or university and learn everything there in one space and then get on the career ladder. Other people need to do practically do it first, and then learn additional skills as they go. For where I am now, I think I’ve got to learn for myself, or sit on the shelf!”
Adam’s passion and determination to learn has evidently always been a part of him, right from the very beginning of his career. Before he became an accountant, he had worked in various job roles, before deciding he was going to throw himself into accountancy. He says:
“Before I became an accountant I did everything to pay the bills - literally anything and everything! I did factory work, I swept the roads, worked in catering and restaurants - even wrapped lettuces for some company for a couple of months! But one day I decided I’d had enough, so I went to the local college, picked up a prospectus and applied for the accountancy course, and the rest is history. I had to forego a day’s wages to study one day a week, but I was moving forward. And I think it helps in my industry to have had that experience of working in those sorts of roles; there’s a foundation on my behalf to understand how my clients’ businesses work.
“However, I’m still doing that learning-on-the-side now in a way - taking time away from work to keep learning. I was recently motivated by two apprentices that we had, who came into the company at the same time. They came on leaps and bounds and really stepped up the pace - and now they’re more qualified than me academically. It didn’t diminish my role at all, I’ve still got the years of experience behind me, but in some ways, going forward, they know more than me - I already go to one of them for trade systems and figures and stuff like that!”
Through working closely with Jackie, Adam began to look at ways to grow in his role in other ways, and began talking to his Directors about people development and offering clients a more comprehensive service. As a result, Adam has now taken on new areas of the business, such as Client Strategies and Marketing - an area that required him to fully embrace learning again through Leapfrog Mountain’s bite-sized courses:
“Talking to Jackie, she told me that I needed to learn how to do social media, and I thought ‘well, this is an area where I already know a lot’ - then she came in and I realised that I knew nothing! But that’s why you need to do this, and I feel really confident in social media now. And part of that confidence comes from the support system - I don’t necessarily know everything there is to know about social media, for example, but I know that if I don’t know the answer to something, there is somewhere that I can go to ask for help. And Jackie is incredibly patient with me! I’m quite an energetic person when talking to people and sometimes talk out my ideas at a million miles an hour, but she listens and lets me finish and then goes, ‘so, back to original point…’!”
In the spirit of always learning, Adam has also recently become a Fellow of the IOEE, and is hoping to be on both sides of that learning experience:
“It’s exciting to be opening myself up to new contacts and the courses that are available to me now, but I see this Fellowship as two-way challenge. Yes, I want to learn and develop my skills and knowledge, but I also want to see if I can help other people too. When it comes to enterprise and entrepreneurship, that two-way relationship is what it’s all about. If everybody works together, then the circles you can move in and the opportunities available to you are endless.”
To find out more about IOEE Enterprise Academy, Leapfrog Mountain, you can visit the website: http://www.leapfrogmountain.com/