Meet Kieran Mantel – Graduate Apprentice Q&A

Dec 12, 2023 | Careers

Meet Kieran Mantel, he’s one of our trainee accountants and began his training with us as a Graduate Apprentice in January 2021. He was also awarded Mentoring & Support Apprentice of the Year at the inaugural Kaplan Apprenticeship Awards 2023.

Why did you choose accounting?

There are two reasons I chose accounting, really.

Firstly, my older brother is a Chartered Accountant. He used to get the monthly ICAEW Economia magazine through the post. One day (I must have been really bored…) I decided to give it a read and discovered I actually found the articles interesting and insightful.

Secondly, after my first year at the University of Liverpool I, like many other students, realised that I had spent too much money in the student union! So I set out to get a summer job and landed myself a summer placement at Harold Sharp. I enjoyed it so much that, after working two summers and a Christmas holiday, I decided to try and make my internship a permanent feature and applied for their graduate apprenticeship scheme.

What does your typical day look like?

I am sure my managers and colleagues will agree with me when I say I am a lark when it comes to productivity, so I try and get into the office as early as possible. This is where I really benefit from Harold Sharp’s ‘core hours’ policy which means I can flex my day and work to my maximum productivity.

I’m currently working in audit so my day varies hugely! One day I could be in the office, the next I could be at a client’s premises. When at a client’s, it is important to get as much work done as possible whilst still onsite so I find these days go by quite quickly! I get a lot of face-to-face time with audit clients which is something I really enjoy and which has allowed me to work on building client relationships from early on in my career.

When I’m in the office, I am constantly learning from colleagues at all levels which is something that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by! There’s a flat office structure here so the Directors and Managers are easily approachable and not tucked away in separate offices. It has been a real privilege so far to learn from them and they are always happy to answer my questions. Each Director and every Manager has helped me at some point whether it be queries to do with work or exam advice, something which makes Harold Sharp incredibly unique. Even if I’m not working directly with them, I am constantly learning from all the conversations going on around my workspace and it’s given me a lot of confidence going in to meetings.

What’s the best thing about your apprenticeship so far?

I really value the sense of trainee community at Harold Sharp. I’m currently one of 8 trainees and we’re all at difference stages. I have enjoyed the comradery that this brings through programmes such as our monthly trainee meetings in which we as trainees let off some steam about our own individual experiences.

The Marketing team may omit this but… a huge selling point about Harold Sharp is the proximity to local pubs! I am a firm believer in going for Friday night drinks. It’s a great way to spend time with colleagues and to kick back after a work week. Having spoken to friends who work at other accountancy firms, this is not always the norm.

Harold Sharp also organises quarterly socials for trainees to meet with peers from other firms. It’s another great opportunity to start building our network and to remind ourselves the importance of balance – starting out as an apprentice is hard graft so it’s nice to be encouraged to have a little fun along the way!

What advice would you give to students contemplating a career in accountancy?

Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into – try to ensure that you get experience across the breadth of a practice during your training. Accountancy is such a varied profession and is not just about counting receipts and spending a lot of time with a calculator. Harold Sharp are really good at offering a varied programme.

For me, a huge advantage that has come from training at Harold Sharp has been the opportunity to work across different departments. During my work experience, I spent some time in outsourcing/bookkeeping with some payroll mixed in as well. When I started full-time, I was in the accounts team, something which I really enjoyed as it provided me with a foundation to build upon and gave me an insight into the world of accounting and finance.

When I had my first professional tax exam I asked if I could be put on loan to the tax department to enhance my studying, kind of like a Jesse Lingaard to West Ham situation except without the dodgy clothes and dancing. I don’t think I would have passed that exam without the hands-on experience of working in tax, so I owe thanks to our tax team for giving me the skills and knowledge to pass!

I realised fairly early on in my career that ultimately I wanted to be signing off on audits. What I did not know is that there is a minimum number of days spent in audit required to do so. Armed with this info, I put in another transfer request and asked to move into audit and I haven’t looked back since!

By working under different departments, I have realised that there can be something for everyone and it is important for students to seek out as many opportunities as possible.


Want to know more about kick-starting your career in accounting? Visit our dedicated School Leaver and Graduate pages or contact Emma Saxon-Pipe on 0161 905 1616 or