How I transitioned into finance is a monthly series that spotlights the stories of mid to senior-level professionals who switched to finance from totally unrelated first degrees and careers. We hope this series inspires aspiring finance professionals to make the switch.
In this one, we discussed with Austine Archibong, a senior associate, assurance at PwC Nigeria, one of the ‘big 4’ firms.
Austine’s story involved a double jump. He attempted studying Medicine for his first degree but that didn’t quite work out. So, he switched to engineering and ended up studying chemical engineering.
He got stung by the numbers bee while in school and drifted towards business and finance. How did he make the switch and how’s that working out for him now?
Read on and let’s find out.
At a Glance
Name: Archibong Austine
Current role: Senior Associate, Assurance
Current company: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Nigeria
Social media handle: Linkedin
How did you start out in your education and career?
From my secondary school days in Lagos, Nigeria, I wanted to do Medicine. I was the senior prefect and was in science class – you know those ‘natural’ aspirations we nurtured in those days. I wrote and passed GCE from SS2, then I did my first JAMB exam for Medicine. That didn’t work out.
Following consultations with my uncle, who was an Engineer, I redirected my pursuit to Engineering. He paid for Technical Drawing and Further Mathematics classes which helped me when I did my WAEC. That was how I got into Chemical Engineering at the University of Ilorin in 2010.
In school, business and numbers came naturally to me. I started taking classes, reading business newspapers, and eventually interned at a bank while being an Engineering student. You can imagine what my SIWES Report would look like.
I kept at business and eventually got a Graduate Internship at PwC in 2015. After NYSC, I tried my hands at several business ideas as I wanted to explore – because I was young.
I eventually returned to the corporate sector. I was doing exciting things at UBA HQ, handling Card Operations and writing credit, but when PwC Nigeria came calling I couldn’t but answer.
Now, I am a Senior Associate at PwC Nigeria.
How did you meet finance? Or was it finance that met you?
I met finance as I was intentional about getting into it. I trained myself and took classes. I am currently writing exams as part of my ACCA and should be done soon.
I enrolled in training courses and classes in analytics, financial modeling, valuations, and so on to broaden my skills and prepare me for bigger roles in finance.
What is your current role, your typical job functions, and how has been your experience?
I am a team manager for the Assurance business at PwC Nigeria. I review my client’s business environment to understand the risks and evaluate the effectiveness of the controls in place.
As a team, we audit the financial statement lines in line with the relevant standards, perform analytical reviews, and review the financial statement.
As a Senior, I prepare engagement status reports, do budgeting, prepare proposals, perform risk assessment duties as well as other clerical tasks. I report directly to the Engagement Manager and Engagement Leader.
I think I am a projects person now. Well, maybe I’ve always been. There is always one project driving me at any point.
At PwC, there have been several projects in one. I am learning to handle complex areas at work while being pushed to take up more challenging tasks and responsibilities. This is alongside studying for my ACCA on weekends.
With the regular career progression and promotion, I have never been out of projects at PwC.
When was your tipping point – when you knew you had to transition into finance?
I got the nudge at the University just before I went in for my internship.
What resources and/or help did you get when you were making your decision?
I read a lot of books, enrolled in several online courses, and undertook a few physical training programs to better understand the financial clime.
How did your friends, family, and colleagues react to the news?
My mum was particularly displeased when I moved away from Medicine to Engineering. However, my family and friends have always been supportive.
I regularly share my wins, frustrations, and eventual decisions with them, and I’ve always been logical and upfront with my aspirations.
What keeps you going?
The projects I’m working on at any given point. Also, when I see huge potential or prospects in something, it propels me.
Where do you see yourself in the next 3 years? Still in finance?
Yes, still in finance. I see myself doing 1 of 2 things: remain an Auditor, practicing from anywhere in the world, or move to other exciting areas in finance.
Long term, I aspire to be an Executive Director at a Multinational before 40, or perhaps, set up my own company.
A lot believe finance guys are boring, what do you do for fun?
I am far from boring. I am big on movies, music, sports, books, hangouts, and much more.
What are your top 3 reads (books) at the moment?
I just finished reading ‘Leaving the tarmac – Buying a bank in Africa’ by former Access Bank CEO Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. That’s my top book recommendation for now.
I am almost done flipping the pages of ‘From Storeroom to Boardroom’ by former NLNG CEO Babs Omotowa. Next, I’ll be reading ‘How Change Happens’ by Cass R. Sunstein.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
A colleague: Temitope Awodeyi. Like me, he had an Engineering background, a master’s in chemical engineering to be specific.
He wrapped up his course work in Engineering and in weeks was doing stuff in finance at PwC.
Catch up on previous episodes in the series:
That’s it for this month. What are your thoughts on this episode of how I transitioned into finance series? Know someone you’ll love to see featured? Tell us in the comments. If you’ll love to get featured, please email us at email@example.com.
Looking to transition into finance?
Our training team at Leonine Learning will equip you with the requisite skills in analytics using excel, financial modeling, valuation, business intelligence, and so on, required for a successful transition and a huge career success. Indicate interest here.
Abdulsamod Balogun leads Communications and Public Relations at Leonine Investment Services Limited. He's excited about new media, technology and public policy. When he's not working, he's catching up on movies and books.