I studied Economics at Brunel University and worked in the banking sector before joining Centrica’s Graduate Finance Programme in 2009. On my first one-year placement, I worked as a member of the Controls Team in British Gas. For my next role, I moved to Centrica Energy to work as a Midstream Business Finance Analyst.
Centrica finance graduates can take their pick from ACCA, CIMA and ACA, which is quite rare in industry. I opted for ACCA because it includes a technical element and offers some module choice in the final year. Also, because Centrica is a Platinum ACCA member, there is the added bonus of not having to keep a regular experience log.
What is Centrica Midstream and where does Business Finance fit in?
The Midstream function in Centrica Energy can be viewed as a bridge between the part of the business that sources and generates energy (Upstream) and the part of the business that supplies gas and electricity to end users such as British Gas. The role of Midstream is to maximise the value generated through trading and asset optimisation activities.
The Business Finance Team is focused on monitoring performance and creating value by working in partnership with the business and with the accounts teams. The work is a mixture of reviews of past performance and forward looking analysis e.g. profit and cash flow forecasting.
What type of work do you do?
Work varies through the month and is analytical in nature. Month-end is the busiest period for Business Finance; I am involved in various exercises, including profit forecasting, transportation cost modelling, and producing slides which form part of a monthly management presentation pack.
I also produce daily key performance indicators for a group of our traders, and am involved in mid-month cash flow forecasting and analysis exercises. All in all, it’s a busy placement with lots to do and plenty to keep you interested.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Placements in Centrica are real jobs that provide a sense of making a valued contribution from the start. The variety of work combined with the interesting nature of Midstream also makes for a finance role that is a world apart from the stereotypical bean-counter.
Also, having previously worked in the banking sector where the end product was intangible, there is a level of satisfaction that comes from being part of an energy company that is sourcing and delivering an essential product to companies and households across the country.
What are the most stressful parts of the job?
The complex nature of the Midstream business means that there is a lot to get your head around and it can be quite technically challenging in the first few months. Over time, however, you do get increasingly comfortable with the jargon and how the business operates.
Deliverable deadlines are another potential stress point, with other parts of the business (e.g. Treasury, Accounting & Reporting) relying on delivery of quality work often to tight time scales. The trick here is learning to see the wood for the trees and prioritising effectively.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I am keen on developing the skills and gaining the breadth of experience to develop my career in the future. Completing the ACCA qualification will be a key leg in achieving the former, while the rotational nature of the graduate scheme (comprises of three one-year placements) should provide the experience. Already, my roles in Controls and Business Finance have been worlds apart, giving me access to two very different parts of the company.
With the company and industry in a constant state of change, I am taking a broad approach to my career outlook and have a relatively simple ultimate goal of finishing the graduate scheme in a position where I can apply for interesting finance based roles with confidence.
Is there a work/life balance?
Simply put, yes. The culture is output and results orientated as opposed to clocking-in and clocking-out, which means that you are responsible for managing your time effectively. It may be all hands to the pump for certain deliverables, but these times are generally offset by other less busy periods. Also, Centrica promotes flexible working, which can be very helpful to employees.
As a Finance graduate, quite a bit of your time will be spent studying. It’s a tough slog, whichever qualification you pick, but it’s worth it. Centrica provides study leave sufficient to cover the taught period of your course, including exam days. Also, in my experience, managers are very understanding of the demands on graduates’ time during the study period phase.