Nikki Cairns with baby Noah July 2023
Category: R&P News
Topic: Accounting

Celebrating 21 years, becoming partner and having a baby all in the same year!

In July, having recently returned to work after the birth of her baby boy at the start of the year, Nikki joined the Partnership and August saw her 21st work anniversary at Randall & Payne – what a year it is turning out to be! We look back at her journey from trainee to partner…

Last year, I didn’t feel old enough to have achieved a milestone work anniversary like 20 years, but a lot has happened in the year since! As I reflect back, I realise that, although my 21 years have culminated some of the biggest events in my life so far, a lot happened on my journey to this point which began in 2002.

On the 19 August I turned up fresh out of A-levels into the world of work at Randall & Payne. Back then the firm was quite a bit smaller than it is today with around 22 members of staff operating out of Rodborough Court in Stroud.

For anyone not familiar with Rodborough Court, the building was a large Georgian house that the firm moved into in the 1960s and very different to the open plan environment we work in today. There were on average about three people to a room so I was placed into an office with one other person who would be my ‘trainer’ and set to work preparing sets of accounts.

I had wanted to be an accountant from the age of 13 and I did my work experience with Randall & Payne at 15 so had a week’s worth of knowledge as to what I was about to launch as my career. Having done some research in the latter years of school I learnt that to become an accountant with a professional qualification you had to learn on the job, sit exams with the relevant professional body and have a training contract with a firm. Even if you have been to university and obtained a relevant degree, there was no getting away from the subsequent examinations and requirements for membership. I therefore decided early on that university wasn’t for me and an apprenticeship was the way to go.

I continued for the next two years learning on the job and attending White Horse Training in Bath to gain my AAT qualification. I’d never been overly studious or academic whilst at school but now that I had found my specialism in life, I seemed to excel at the exams I was faced with.
I absolutely loved the work I was doing and went home to my parents most nights trying to tell them what I’d been doing. As they ran their own business, I even tried to apply what I was learning to their accounts records, not that I’m sure they knew what I was doing with them.

Soon after completing my AAT qualification, Randall & Payne agreed to support me through my ACCA qualification, so I started this in early 2005. Alongside my studies, which I had completed by 2008, the next few years allowed me to gain experience in all sorts of different types of work having had an involvement across accounts, audit, bookkeeping, VAT, business and personal tax for clients, giving me a breadth of knowledge and experience to carry forward into my later career.

From 2011 I began working for Tim Watkins, who was a partner at that time, as his Client Manager, and I still work closely with him today albeit now as a Partner and Tim as Managing Partner. There have been many changes over those 12 years, from our move to consolidate four offices into one at Chargrove House in 2013, the introduction of many changes from HMRC including electronic submissions and Making Tax Digital, a major accounting standards overhaul, and most recently moving to paperless files and a hybrid working model.

I’ve learnt over the last two decades that change is inevitable in the accountancy world not only due to the constant changes in legislation that we have to keep up to date with but also the everchanging world around us in regards to culture and technology. All these changes bring different benefits, whether it’s better communication, increased productivity, or an improved work life balance. Whilst some of these changes have seemed scary initially, I’ve learnt that change is positive and the way to deal with change is embrace it.

Then at the start of my 21st year came the biggest change of all, my son Noah was born! Along with juggling being a parent, I also joined the Partnership, so have even greater responsibilities both in my home and work life. Hybrid working certainly helps, along with support from the excellent team around me.

As I said when it was announced that I was to become a Partner from 1st July, Randall & Payne has supported me throughout my career to enable me to achieve this step. Now is my opportunity to give back to both clients and team in my role as custodian of the firm and nurture its growth in readiness for the next generation.

Nikki Cairns is a Partner responsible for the Accounts team and is available on 01242 776000 or by email