Ex-student Akash Ruparelia has made history by becoming the first ever fully qualified chartered accountant to graduate from the Leadership Through Sport & Business (LTSB) programme. Akash, 23, says he felt lost after failing his first year of college but was given a second chance to succeed by LTSB, who helped transform his life.
LTSB is a unique scheme that provides bright, underprivileged youngsters with unique opportunities and access to business and finance careers with major firms. LTSB prepares young people for the world of work and provides support throughout the first year or more of their employment. LTSB has worked with the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London for a number of years now offering these fantastic opportunities to its students.
Akash, who was part of the first group of young leaders to join the programme in 2012, said: “I went to The Magna Carta School in Staines where I got good grades and then went onto college but after a few weeks I knew it wasn’t for me. I stuck at it but ended up failing my first year.
“I was at a really low point but then I started looking into apprenticeships through the National Apprenticeship Service and came across LTSB. As well as always being good with numbers, what really caught my interest was that I’d be working with Tottenham Hotspur Foundation as part of the programme. I thought if they’re associated with a top football club they must be credible and so I took the opportunity and it paid off.
“I found the last five exams to become a fully chartered accountant really tough, the final stage took a lot of hard work just to get over the pass mark. I was doing weekend tuition and staying late at work, it was hard.
“I knew I was on track to be one of the first to qualify but it was never the aim however it’s a nice thing to know, especially being on the first year of the programme where there were so many talented individuals.”
LTSB offers intensive training with blue-chip companies and elite football foundations, which helps young people develop personally and professionally, preparing them for the business world.
He added: “It was brilliant to do social action in the community with the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, I didn’t know Premier League clubs had outreach programmes, it was very eye opening. I was coaching football in local schools and it was great to get an FA Level 1 coaching badge and help the local communities surrounding the club. On top of working towards getting my accountancy qualifications with CONEL, it was important to learn new skills as part of the course, skills that are transferable into a business environment.”
LTSB placed Akash in an apprenticeship scheme with BayernLB to study AAT Level 3 and 4. After that Akash went on to work for Royal Windsor Racecourse and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, before securing a role as a Financial Analyst for global firm, Johnson & Johnson.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Akash, he found the transition to working in a big company difficult but this is where the support system from LTSB and CONEL made a massive difference.
He said: “Everyone was just so helpful, right from the top with David Pinchin, the founder.
“David gave me a second chance. I can’t thank him enough for setting up LTSB. I wouldn’t have been accepted onto any other programme like this because of my grades but they saw the potential in me. When I joined the LTSB programme I had a goal, something to work towards and without David I wouldn’t have had this amazing opportunity.”
“It’s been hard but I’m reaping the rewards now. It was surreal to be offered a position at Johnson & Johnson as a Financial Analyst 8 months ago, especially after being told by my sixth form tutors at college that I wouldn’t be successful unless I went to university. I’m thrilled to be working for one of the largest and most globally recognised companies in the world, it’s an incredible feeling.
“To anyone thinking about joining the LTSB programme I would say do it. Having accountancy qualifications gives you such a great foundation and means you can work in virtually any business.”