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Paul Etherington (BSc Botany with Zoology 1990)

Biography

I was very lucky in studying a subject related to the environment about which I have always been passionate. I knew it wasn't necessary to have a relevant degree to train as an accountant. The plan was to qualify, gain experience and join the business my parents started. As it was, I joined Grant Thornton, and am still there. For a brief synopsis of my career and experience so far please see: www.grant-thornton.co.uk/en/People/Paul-Etherington.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

Reading was one of my top choices via the application system. I walked up from the railway station through light rain, and even now can remember arriving at the corner of campus, seeing how green it was, and thinking "this is it"...

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

Too many things to mention; some great people in my department, some great friends, the hall system and some of the extra-curricular opportunities. Reading's regeneration started around this time. All good.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Select a subject that balances personal enjoyment and post-graduation employability. Grasp opportunities to earn money and gain experience whenever these arise.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I joined Grant Thornton in Reading on graduating and although the office has relocated, merged and moved many times and I have had many roles in the firm, I am still having a great time, so still there.

What would be your top tips for students interested in working in this sector?

Understand the differences between the giant accounting firms and the small ones. Be clear what experience you want and which firm will provide it.

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped in your chosen career path?

I remember a 'CRAC' course whilst I was still an undergrad which introduced me to several firms of accountants and going for open evenings in the town with several.

What are your top tips for students graduating this year? What should they be doing to secure the job they want?

The key thing is to not be snobby and gain whatever work experience one can. Big gaps in the CV are not good. There are opportunities to get into work and these can provide openings and career paths in unexpected ways. Employers like industry and work ethic.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

There are too many good memories to list. Making many friends and not least meeting my wife.

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