Before having my first meeting, I attended an open day with “Mr. Collin Biggs” who gave brief lecture on the requirement of RAP and topics which can be chosen to do a successful RAP. The topic I chose from the Oxford Brookes Project topic areas is number 8 which is “The business and financial performance of an organisation over a three year period”.
For the 1st meeting my mentor “Ashley Cooke” asked me to write ‘The Introduction’ of the RAP before having the first meeting. I decided to analyse the financial and business performance of GlaxoSmithKline and Astra Zeneca as a comparator. After choosing the topic and organisation I started to research the information about GlaxoSmithKline and Astra Zeneca. From the website of GlaxoSmithKline and Astra Zeneca, I downloaded their audited financial statement and annual reports for three years periods from 2007 to 2009.
My mentor asked me to send the “Introduction” of my RAP three days before the meeting so that he can go through the work I had completed and prepare feedback for my 1st meeting. I was unable to send him the “Introduction” part of my RAP three days before the meeting as I underestimated the work required and I also was not quite familiar with Microsoft Word. I was able to send him the email with the “Introduction” of my RAP just two days before the meeting.
During the first meeting, my mentor was not satisfied with my approach which I adopted to write “Introduction” of my RAP. “Introduction” about the company was very much in detail. My mentor told me to be precise and write only relevant information about the company. He also told me that my work was lacking quality as I only used Company’s official website and did not refer to independent opinions and views.
I learnt that I have to manage my time better as I need extra time to deliver my assignments on time as I am lacking the skills of effective use of Microsoft Word. I also learnt that I have to use third party’s opinions and reviews about the company’s performance which tend to be less biased.
As my first meeting was not up to the scratch so I was advised by my mentor to take some extra time to do sufficient work for my second meeting. He asked me to finish most of the research and analysis work prior to the second meeting. I tried my best to finish all the analysis work necessary to evaluate my project objectives such as trend analysis, ratio analysis, market research and strategic analysis of GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Astra Zeneca Plc. At the end of my second meeting my mentor shocked me when he asked me to prepare Microsoft Power Point slides for presentation. I was not sure how to make such slides using Microsoft Power Point. And I told my mentor there and then that I do not know how to use Microsoft Power Point to prepare slides. He was very helpful and he taught me how to prepare slides using Microsoft Power Point on his laptop.
I was working very well according to the suggestions of my mentor. But I was unable to finish most of the work before time and could not email all the required work to my mentor three days before the second meeting. The reason was that my niece suddenly became sick and she was taken to the Hospital just five days before the second meeting.She was very seriously ill and I had to take my family couple of times to the Hospital. I could not finish my whole work. But I managed myself to attend the second meeting. My mentor told me that he was expecting more work from me. I explained the whole story to him. He inquired about the health of my niece and advised me that I have to be well planned and ready for such incidents and leave some buffer time for such uncertainties.
I realised that if I would have left some buffer time, I would have completed my work well before the second meeting. Now I realised that I should try my best to finish my work and the task given before time to avoid any mishap or uncertainty.
My mentor asked me to give ten minutes presentation which should be summarised but comprehensive. My mentor told me that my presentation should be a glimpse of my overall RAP. My presentation will be followed by short question and answer session where I will be questioned on my work and my findings about the chosen organisation
I was quite time pressured for my third meeting as I had some work left from my second meeting to complete and extra work to be done for the third time including the preparation of slides for presentation. I had to do rehearsal for my presentations as I have not given any presentations before this. I was a bit worried and nervous about my presentation.
I learnt I should not leave the work till the last minute from my previous experience as unknowns can happen and delay the process. I gave myself an earlier deadline so that I could finish my work before the original deadline. Due to this I managed to finish my RAP on time.
I also learnt a lot from the presentation part of my RAP. I learnt how to make slides on Microsoft PowerPoint as evidence; slides are attached with the submission of my RAP.
I made my presentation to the Mentor. I ran out of time and could not complete the presentation well in time. I spent too much time on the introduction and the reason why I choose the organisation. I failed to present the conclusion and recommendation part of my presentation. I could not do justice with my efforts I put in my research work because of the way I presented my report to the mentor. I was not successful because of the lack of planning of my presentation. I did plan what I will present but due to the lack of practice I could not deliver what I was expecting from myself. Nevertheless, I learnt a lot from this experience. I learnt not to be over focused on the irrelevant things and properly giving time to more important areas.
How well do I think that I have answered the research questions?
At the initial stage of my RAP I was confident that I will be able to do my RAP easily on the chosen topic. But in reality the chosen topic and finding information on organisation proved to be hard and challenging for me. I was not sure in the beginning from where should I gather information about GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca. I was carrying out my RAP research on limited information available but I came to know from a friend of mine that British Library is loaded with information regarding any organisation. I got financial and non financial information from British Library about GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca which was enough to do RAP analysis properly.
During my secondary research, internet played a pivotal role in gathering data. Internet was of great help when reading up results of GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca for the first quarter of 2010 as this data was not easily accessible from other sources. It was hard for me to decide which ratios should be calculated in ratio analysis as each and every ratio has its own significance and importance.
Time was a real issue in this project. I could not allocate time properly to the different areas of my research which I could have done better if I would have had more time. More time would have allowed me to visit more business libraries to get an in depth knowledge of the Pharmaceutical industry and its competitive environment.
How have you demonstrated your interpersonal skills and communication skills during the project work?
Interpersonal and Communication skills are two skills which are not only important in academic life but in professional life as well. These skills facilitate in academics during presentations, class discussions, and project report writing and during professional life like dealing with customers, suppliers, peers and management. During my RAP, I used my interpersonal skills which I learnt through my studies, especially paper F7 (Financial Reporting) of ACCA.
Initially the communication with my mentor was not very effective as I struggled to communicate properly with my mentor. My mentor sometimes could not understand my accent and he asked me to repeat few times during my interactions with him. I lost precious time of my meetings with him due to this communication problem. English is not my mother tongue. Even though my English have improved significantly after studying ACCA in England, native English speakers sometime find it difficult to understand me because of my strong accent. My mentor ‘Ashley Cooke’ has been very patient with me and he never showed any signs of discomfort whilst communicating with me.
I realised that in order to communicate effectively I had to be more confident when facing somebody face to face and I should speak slowly and clearly so that even with my strong accent, people could understand me. I have to improve my oral, verbal and non-verbal skills so that I’ll be able to perform better both in academics and in work environment.
How has undertaking the Research and Analysis Project helped me in my accountancy studies and/or current employment role?
I learnt a lot by doing my RAP which will help me in my reaming ACCA studies and also when I start my professional job. One of the things, I learnt whilst doing my RAP was how to do a research and gather information about a real world organisation, this helped me in developing my research skills. The research skill will be beneficial to me for my further studies and career.
Communicating with people in an effective way was the new learning experience and it is very important for me when I will start my professional job in the future. My communication skills have improved significantly by doing this RAP. I think I would be in a better position to cope with the challenges in the future, which really would not have been possible without undertaking a project like this.
Other thing, I learnt a great deal about is IT skills which I lacked before doing this RAP. I was not very familiar with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This project taught me a great deal about these packages as I had to use them to draw graphs, make tables and prepare slides for my presentation. Graphs and appendices in my RAP are evidence of my learnt skills. IT skills are very crucial for a modern accountant to have in order to succeed in this day and age. I knew a little about these software packages before but this project has given me an opportunity to draw graphs using data from tables which I did not know before. This skill will assist me a great deal in my further studies and career.
In a nutshell, whilst doing my RAP I learnt how to manage time effectively and meet deadlines, which will not only help me in my academic and professional life but will also, bring positive changes in my life.