How Siobhan scored an ICB Student of the Year nomination

How Siobhan scored an ICB Student of the Year nomination

Siobhan didn’t have as much time to devote to her studies as some. But that didn’t stop her from achieving outstanding results and getting a nomination for ICB Student of the Year

ICB award winner and Feefo Platinum Award winner

We’ve asked many of our students one simple question: “do you want to study at home, at your own pace?”

Last year we shared stories of students quickly achieving fantastic results. Ridiculously fast.

They were incredible achievements from people who worked hard, were determined, and had the time.

But time is not a luxury everyone has. That means they need much more of those other two qualities if they are to succeed.

In fact, we sent out a few of these stories of rapid success to our email subscribers and we received a reply that made me sit up and take notice:

Siobhan Ife - ICB Student of the Year 2022 nominee
Siobhan Ife balanced work and family life and achieved outstanding ICB results

“It’s great to read about these winners but they always read like it’s a race to do it the quickest.
… I won’t be able to complete this as fast. Does that mean people like me will not have an opportunity to be put forward as a student of the year?”

This question stuck in my mind. We worked with plenty of students who could study full-time when they were furloughed. This meant they could stick to a timetable. They could study during typical work hours, construct a routine, and build momentum.

Momentum is so important because when you are working on a task that takes weeks or months it is easily disrupted. I stopped reading a novel a couple of months ago because I’d broken my routine of sitting down and reading it for a couple of hours each night.

So, when I spoke to Siobhan Ife to find out more about her study journey I was struck by her determination and hard work.

Time to change career and invest in yourself

Siobhan was stuck in a job where she was overworked and unsupported.

“It was during the pandemic so I felt like I couldn’t really move jobs. But I did manage to have an interview with another company at the point where I was just about to sign up for the ICB course and I thought: ‘I’m the only person who can invest in myself. I’ve got to do this. Now.’ ”

And that’s what she did. In December 2020 Siobhan enrolled with Training Link on our ICB Self-Employed Package.

“I was turning 40 the following year. And I just decided to go for it.”

Just ten days after her workbooks were dispatched Siobhan had already earned a distinction on the A1 exam before passing A2 only seven days after that. After a short break at Christmas, level 2 was complete by the 7th January 2021.

But this is not yet another story about speed. It’s about how you react and balance your studies when life, understandably, gets in the way.

Shortly after she had started studying she was offered and accepted that new job. Then another lockdown closed the schools which meant she had to home-school her 8-year-old and 10-year-old children.

Most people would already have put their studies on the back-burner. And that’s before the stress of moving house.

“At one stage I was studying surrounded by boxes. It was a nightmare.”

But Siobhan wasn’t to be deterred.

“Being able to do the exams at home, and to do the tests at home just made all the difference.”

Her rapid progress at level 2 was replaced by a slower but determined one as she juggled teaching the kids, her new job, a house move, and then bearing more of the parental responsibilities after her husband broke his ribs and punctured a lung.

There were times when Siobhan struggled but the support from her tutors was vital:

“Bev was really sweet as well. There was a time when I thought ‘Oh God, this isn’t going to work out’. And she’d just say ‘You’ll get there! I’m sure you will’ and I just kept going and I’m really glad that I did.”

After scoring 100% on M4 in February, she worked through M5, M6, and M7 before gaining a Merit on M8 on the 18th of July.

“A lot of things happened and got in the way. I’m really pleased with what I managed to achieve, I kept going.”

She certainly did, just two days later our Payroll books were winging their way to her door and on the 15th of October she gained another Merit. And two months later on the 16th of December her ICB journey, so far, concluded when she passed her Self Assessment Tax exam.

But Siobhan’s journey to starting her own practice has been thorough and meticulous. She’s attended ICB new practice webinars, spoken to current bookkeepers about how to get clients, designed her business cards and website, and in January 2022 she passed Training Link’s Start Your Own Business course.

Siobhan registered her practice in April 2022 and is working with clients, and has already earned back the costs of her studies.

Siobhan’s Results

Exam Result
A1 96%
A2 89%
A3 99%
M4 100%
M5 93%
M6 95%
M7 93%
M8 94%
SAT 87%
Payroll Management 91%

To get through these exams despite the pressures and challenges she encountered is impressive, and it reminds me of the question asked by one of our students earlier on…

“It’s great to read about these winners but they always read like it’s a race to do it the quickest.

… I won’t be able to complete this as fast. Does that mean people like me will not have an opportunity to be put forward as a student of the year?”

I said earlier that the question had stuck in my mind. That’s why I was so delighted to see the progress of its author…

So yes, in answer to your original question Siobhan – we think that your achievements, hard work, and determination mean that you should have the opportunity to be shortlisted for Student of the Year.

And we were delighted that the ICB thought so too!

What next for Siobhan?

The next steps are to gradually scale her business in a sensible way and to look at further ICB CPD studies.

“I’m still enjoying my employed role. I’ve dropped a day so I can focus on the business.

In this industry, I think it’s a safe bet to try and do both if I can. And ICB has been really supportive too.”

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ICB Self-Employed Package

Perfect if you want to work as a self-employed bookkeeper. When you pass the exams you can apply for your ICB Practice Licence.

  • ICB Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping
  • ICB Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping
  • ICB Level 3 Diploma in Payroll Management
  • ICB Level 4 Self-Assessment Tax Returns

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