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Article published 16/11/2023

As part of Scottish Careers Week, the next article in our Meet the Team series features Connor Freeman who started with VisitScotland as a Finance Modern Apprentice. Hear how Connor has worked his way to his newly appointed role as Business Partner in our Corporate Governance and Performance team. 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I joined VisitScotland as the Finance Modern Apprentice in 2017 straight out of school. I was never keen on the idea of further education and thought heading straight into work would provide me with the best opportunity to learn. Shortly afterwards, I moved through to Edinburgh with some friends, including another VisitScotland Modern Apprentice. 

I always saw myself working within accounting or finance as this is what I excelled at during school. I was your classic numbers guy with no ability to spell, surviving on spellcheck, that career-saving tool we all know and love. In my time at VisitScotland so far, I have taken up a number of roles within the Finance department and now Corporate Governance and Performance as a Business Partner.

Outside of work, I am a massive football fan and spend the majority of my time watching or attending football games with friends. I also love to play pool, and I am still waiting on a VisitScotland employee good enough to step up and beat me!

What is your current role at VisitScotland?

There is some exciting changes going on within my team at the moment which means my role has recently changed to a Business Partner, and I will be working alongside allocated departments to provide financial support. 

In this role, my work will be varied, looking at areas like supporting budget holders with key decision making, improving business processes for my departments and building on the organisation's access to financial information. Overall, my objective is to support the VisitScotland departments with the information and knowledge they need to achieve our organisational objectives.

You're currently studying a university course alongside full-time work - tell us more about that.

I was in the first year of students to undertake the Accounting Graduate Apprenticeship through Robert Gordon University. This course was a trial between the university and the Institution of Chartered Accountants Scotland (ICAS) which looks to create a blended programme for full-time employees, shortening the time to become a Chartered Accountant from seven to five years. 

This course has provided me with the knowledge to continuously grow at VisitScotland, allowing me to apply classroom knowledge straight into real work situations. On top of that, I will have received seven years of invaluable work experience whilst completing this course which I would not have if I had gone down the traditional university route.

I'm chuffed to say this year, I achieved a first class degree with a dean's award and my graduation is next summer. I have some final exams to sit in December to become a qualified accountant and then my studying will officially be complete. 

Sponsored walk on the Isle of Arran 

How are you balancing full-time work with your studying?

Firstly, I have to give a big shout-out to VisitScotland for giving me the opportunity to take on this challenge. Part of their support includes giving me a day per week to do work related to my course material which has made the learning experience come to life and supported my development.  I also want to say a big thank you to Michelle Lavery - my course sponsor and fellow ICAS accountant - for taking the time to go through difficult course material with me.

All of VisitScotland's accountants have supported me through my study. There is also a number of ICAS accountants within the team, and their experience has been a massive wealth of knowledge to drawn upon when it comes to sitting the challenging exams. 

On a side note, a top tip if you're stuck in a meeting with an ICAS accountant and want to distract them - simply ask them about their professional exams. You will see them look into the distance and then proceed with a 15 minute speech about their mental scars from enduring these exams. You didn't hear it from me!

When you're not studying and working, do you have a favourite place to visit in Scotland?

With exams coming up just before Christmas, there's not much else except studying and working for me at the moment!

In saying that, I do my best to free up my Friday and Saturday nights to go out with friends. I'm currently living in Glasgow which, as a UNESCO City of Music, gives me plenty of brilliant nightlife to enjoy.

I would have to say my favourite place to visit in Scotland is The Meadows in Edinburgh. I don't think there is anything better than sitting there on a lovely, warm day.

Saying hello to some friendly faces on Arran

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