Accounting Lecturer Looks back on a 30 Year Career at UWS

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This month we paid a fond farewell to UWS Accounting Lecturer Angela Dunlop who has taken early retirement, and will be greatly missed by staff and students alike. Angela shared her thoughts on her time at the University.

Angela receiving the STAR Award

I joined the University of Paisley nearly 30 years ago at an exciting time when Paisley College gained University status and the Bachelor of Accounting degree was born.  

I also taught on many different accounting modules across a variety of degrees including engineering, quality management and tourism.  Accounting is the language of business and impacts all businesses large and small and my industry experience as a chartered accountant helped me relate real life experience into my teaching. For example our engineering students did not always want to learn about accounting, but I could help them relate to the importance of profitability of an engineering project and the need to control costs and invoicing on time to get the cash to pay the wages and buy more materials.

From an early age I wanted to be a primary teacher, probably due to Miss Murray my primary 1 teacher who was absolutely amazing (especially when she brought her Afghan hounds into to school…I love dogs!).  She was the first of many great teachers that I encountered in my educational journey and my desire to teach increased in secondary school.  Another Mrs Murray in secondary school taught Maths and I loved the subject and the good grades that I could achieve. As a teacher she inspired me and allowed me to believe that I could go to University (that may sound strange but no one in my family had gone to university so I would be first in my family and I came from an area of mass deprivation so hardly anyone at my school aspired to higher education).  A new goal was born, I will be a maths teacher I thought!

When I started the University of Glasgow to study maths and statistics there was a shortage of maths teachers within secondary education so the plan was going well.  I just had to get an ordinary degree (and do the one year post grad in teaching) and there would be a job at the end, but that plan failed when a surge of maths teachers were recruited when I was starting my 3rd year and there was no longer the availability of jobs.  So the plan changed!  A friend told me that I should complete my 3rd year and then do Honours as only 1% of the population, at the time, had an honours degree.  That sounded great, I would just get a new career using my degree (it was sad to give up the dream of teaching but I had to be practical and make the most of what I could do.)

After graduation I moved to London to begin my career in accounting.  It was a logical career choice having a degree in Statistics and having worked through University in a supermarket cash office doing bookkeeping tasks including cash book and payroll.   I trained with KPMG, predominantly in the audit department, and it was a perfect fit.  I love to talk (no surprises there for those who know me) and I love people, so meeting loads of different people as I visited client premises was rewarding.  Also, selecting samples and collecting audit evidence to reach statistically valid conclusions was a way of contextualising the theory I learned at University.   Colleagues in various audit teams that I was part of often remarked and joked how I would glean information from audit client staff that no one else could get!  That was a skill I did not even know that I had (and it because essential with personal tutoring at UWS)… people would open up to me and feel safe to share information.

The desire to teach never left me.  Throughout my time at KPMG working in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh, I always volunteered to be a trainer on the In-House courses for new audit staff.  These were weekly residential courses which were full on, not only in content but in guiding the participants to practice the skills they needed to become successful auditors.   This experience along with a stint teaching and examining at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) led me to apply for the post of Lecturer of Accounting at the University of Paisley (now UWS). The teaching dream was finally realised and I personally learned so much from the process, not only from the accounting and finance staff but from students.  

Angela with some of the class of 2019 accounting graduates

During 30 years I have had the pleasure of sharing the learning journey of thousands of students.  The greatest reward of this job is always graduation to see students achieve their dreams and witness the transformational power of education.  In addition, to follow the on going careers of UWS graduates on LinkedIn brings me great pleasure (I feel like a proud parent!). The other personal highlight is expression of thanks from students either through email, cards, nominations for awards etc.  Winning two STAR awards on one day is a memory I will never forget.   

UWS have the most fantastic (students and) alumni community and a big thank you to all those who have given back to help the next generation of Graduates and have helped me out with raising awareness of employability skills and opportunities over the past 15 years. If you feel you could be a mentor in the UWS mentoring scheme or provide placements or internships opportunities then please reach out to Ewan O’Brien and he can help you.

UWS Accounting Society and Angela Dunlop

As for me, (early) retirement is going well so far.  It’s “me time”. I am still inspired by others and making goals and plans for the future.  I still love dogs and talking to people. I am ready to learn new things and see new places. The next chapter begins!

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