For experienced accountant Joanne Hamilton, one theme runs through her time as an apprentice: support. 

Joanne started her accountancy career as a level 2 apprentice in accounting (AAT) in 1998. 

Joanne said: “At 16, I enrolled on a business and finance GNVQ at Newcastle College. I really enjoyed the accountancy module. I wasn’t sure what my next step would be, but I found out the College offered apprentice opportunities. I applied and was matched with Newcastle-under-Lyme based Dean Statham Accountants. 

“Looking back this was a pivotal moment in my life and career. Over the next three years I mixed work with study and gained my AAT qualification. 

“Dean Statham were brilliant, making sure my work was relevant to my study and I even started to mentor later intakes of apprentices. 

“I was also encouraged to expand my horizons and I joined the local young professionals’ network, Future Finest. 

“The support from my employer continued beyond my apprenticeship and I became a chartered certified accountant, gaining the ACCA qualification. 

“I enjoyed the tax element of my work and Dean Statham again supported me in gaining the Chartered Tax Advisor (CTA) qualification. 

Joanne stayed at Dean Statham for 13 years and only left when an opportunity arose to lead a tax and payroll team at Barringtons Accountants. After a few years Joanne spied an opportunity to broaden her horizons even further at ‘big four’ accountant Ernst & Young in Manchester. 

“Joanne said: “I was hungry to gain experience with a big player in accountancy. During my time at Ernst & Young I worked on tax consultancy with high-worth individuals and made some fabulous connections.” 

However, the commuting eventually took its toll and Joanne moved to Howard Worth’s Nantwich office, where she qualified as a Trust and Estate Practitioner in 2021, moving to her current job, as associate director (tax), at Alextra Accountants in 2022. 

“Joanne said: “I have had a fabulous opportunity at Alextra to build a talented tax team. We are a relatively new but fast-growing practice with an ethos of understanding clients’ individual needs and offering a complete trusted advisor service. 

“I have built a great network of contacts over the years thanks to my employers, to Finest and Future Finest and Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. I am on the steering group of Finest and I regularly attend Chamber events. 

“I have been fortunate with the support I have received through my career starting from my apprenticeship. I now support apprentices and team members at Alextra, and I would always recommend the apprenticeship route. The mix of real work experience, qualifications, learning, earning, making connections and finally, the support from employers and peers, cannot be understated.”