5 minutes with… Ben Richards, Assistant Management Accountant and Environmental Ambassador.
Ben Richards, joined gbpartnerships (gbp) back in February 2020, shortly before the first nationwide lockdown. Nearly 12 months on, we caught up with him to find out a little more about his role and how he has bedded in at a time when Covid meant that we were all forced to work from home…
I was first attracted to the role with gbpartnerships as it seemed like an ideal opportunity to develop as an accountant and continue with my studies, whilst supporting the growth of a company that operated in a sector as important as the NHS. After a successful interview, I was offered a 12-month fixed-term contract with the company.
After developing my skills in Trade Operations at Barclays, I decided to make the career shift to accountancy and enrolled onto AAT in 2013, which I funded myself and studied in my spare time, eventually completing the course in 2017. By this time, I had left Barclays and was working for a trade finance company, where I gained some accounting experience. At the start of 2020, I decided to progress my accountancy career further and enrol onto CIMA to become a chartered accountant.
My day job with gbp involves processing sales and purchase invoices, being a regular point of contact for both our debtors and creditors, month end accounting, setting up payment runs and quarterly VAT submissions for 3 of the 12 LIFT Companies that gbp provides services to through our Management Services Agreements.
I’m responsible for ensuring the accuracy of payments made to our creditors, which in total can add up to hundreds of thousands of pounds on each run. It’s a busy role, with lots of responsibility, which I enjoy, and I know that the team are always on hand to provide support when needed.
I’d been in the role for about 5 weeks and was still in learning mode when the first lockdown took effect. It is fair to say that I was a little daunted by the prospect of learning a new job whilst working from home, coupled with dealing with year-end.
It was quite a tough period that was made even harder when my partner fell ill with suspected Covid and we had to self-isolate, but the support from my line manager and the rest of the team helped me through it. After about 6 months into the job, I started to feel a lot more settled and less anxious about my role. Despite not having had much time to work with many of my colleagues in the flesh, I definitely feel very much one of the team.
In the autumn of last year an opportunity came up to take on the role of Environmental Ambassador, working across gbp as part of our commitment to environmental sustainability and ISO14001.
The environment is something I feel passionately about, and plastic is a big bug bear of mine. Being an Environmental Ambassador has meant that I have been able to directly influence gbp’s environmental practices for the better.
In a really short amount of time, we have implemented changes in the recycling of plastics and also driven a huge reduction in the use of paper by changing the way suppliers invoice us, shifting them to online invoices and away from paper. Also, working from home has driven savings in the usage of paper, which is good to see. We will continue to work our way through the list of actions and support fellow colleagues, our partners and suppliers in driving change for the benefit of the planet.
At the end of 2020, I was offered a permanent contract with gbp – which I was delighted about and accepted without hesitation. Despite the current difficulties we are all experiencing in one way or another as a result of Covid, I see a bright future ahead - I know that there is still a lot I have to contribute to gbp and also learn.
gbpartnerships deliver property management services for 13 LIFT Companies across the country and manage a property portfolio of over 70 buildings, worth c.£850m. This important work is delivered under Management Services Agreements (MSAs) which include finance, estates management and business development services.