Being part of a team at the CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants) challenge at Nottingham Trent University was a fascinating experience. CIPFA is the leading accountancy body for the public service sector providing education and training in accountancy and financial management. In my opinion the CIPFA event was a success and really helped me understand real life situations which may occur in the business world. It made me think not only from a business person’s perspective but also it made me think about the people on the other side, the customers, the board members, the press, the people who rely on other people to provide them with a service etc.
Our team consisted of seven students, who studied BTEC Business or A level Business or Economics and we were given a case study on a fictitious organisation that we would be in charge of on the day. The fictitious organisation was a social housing organisation called ‘Stead Homes’. The case study included details about the organisation, the location and general statistics about the area, and on the day of the event we were given our challenge so we could not plan in advance. However, what we could do was decide each individual’s role in the team, for example, I was the director of Neighbourhood Services. At the start of the day we were given a fixed budget for the organisation, which we could spend on things like maintenance, waste storage, new buildings etc. Throughout the day the team faced visits from various individuals with challenges, all whilst trying to maintain the day job of achieving a balanced budget with significant funding cuts.
As the director of Neighbourhood Services for ‘Stead Homes’ I was faced a number of problems. An example of a challenge I had to deal with was that initially we had decided to provide weekly waste collection in the area of the housing organisation, however because we were forced to significantly cut our costs, so were forced to provide waste collection once every two weeks to save money. This decision sparked a reaction from the local council and the board members because the organisation is run for the public and they weren’t happy about this change. To solve this issue I had to go and speak to board members along with the public in a meeting at which I had to explain to them why this change would be beneficial. After the meeting, the board members told me that our proposal was approved.
In order to solve the problem we were set we had to revise our plans so they were suitable to meet everyone’s needs and to ensure the public was satisfied as we were a social housing company. At the end of the day we had to deliver a presentation to the board members of ‘Stead Homes’ who were the judges of all the teams that had come for the CIPFA challenge. The presentation was on our revised plans and changes for the future of the fictitious area in which ‘Stead Homes’ was located. We had to ensure that the presentation would be suitable for the board members and would keep them happy.
In the end, our team was successful in impressing the judges as we were announced winners of the competition, for the third year running.