Starting a new job at Whitley Stimpson during COVID-19

Jun 8, 2021

Now that we’ve passed the year anniversary of the first UK national lockdown. We thought we’d share some comments from our new starters on how they found starting a new job during COVID-19.

These comments were originally shared internally on the dates shown.

Seren Thomas’s experience of starting with Whitley Stimpson


Seren joined Val’s team in Banbury at the beginning of August, so we thought a chat here would let everyone get to know her a bit more.

What have you enjoyed so far?

Everyone at work that I have met has been really friendly; it is really nice to come into work and see everyone, especially after lockdown and only having contact with people from outside home online (the remainder of my university classes were completed online which was quite strange!) I have also enjoyed the two Reed courses that I have had – the tutor was lovely. I am looking forward to one day (hopefully) being able to try the food at Reed which I have heard is very good from a few sources!

Is the role what you expected?

Yes! I did some work experience at Whitley Stimpson in the summer of 2017 so I had a little bit of an insight back then into what the role would entail.

Tell us a bit about yourself…what you enjoy doing, how lockdown was for you….

I graduated Cardiff University in July with a degree in Japanese & Spanish – I love learning languages and travelling! I lived in Japan for 11 months and Spain for 3 months as part of my course. In Japan I was studying, but also had a part time job doing English conversation classes for a subsidiary company of Mazda. The photos show me enjoying weekend visits with a Japanese host family and wearing a kimono – it took about 15 minutes to put on! I am also a big music fan and enjoy watching films. My lockdown mainly consisted of online university classes which I am grateful for as it kept me busy. I also went on lots of walks around the village and neighbouring fields which was nice after being inside most of the time!

Anne Whittaker’s experience of starting with Whitley Stimpson


Anne joined WS as Finance Manager in Banbury at the beginning of September, we thought a chat here would let everyone get to know her a little better.

What have you enjoyed so far?

I’ve enjoyed starting work as everyone has been really friendly and helpful. Although it has been a bit of a shock to the system to drive from Northampton to Banbury every day (especially after working at home for 5 months!) I’m now getting used to my route and it is nice to be working in an office again. I’ve been lucky to have expert tuition from Alison, who has been really helpful in answering all of my questions! I’m now in an office on my own, so I’m looking forward to Karen moving back downstairs so that I will have some company again!

Is the role what you expected?

Yes, it is a similar role to one of my previous jobs which I really enjoyed.

Tell us a bit about yourself…what you enjoy doing, how lockdown was for you….

I started my career in accountancy with Grant Thornton where I trained and qualified. I then spent a number of years as the Financial Controller for an insurance broking business and most recently I worked for MacIntyre Hudson in their accounts outsourcing team.

I live in a village near to Northampton with my husband, two teenage daughters and our West Highland Terrier, Buddy. In normal times I enjoy travelling (especially city breaks) and going to the theatre with friends. I have been a season ticket holder at Northampton Town FC for many years and go to all of the home games and a few away games each season, but sadly not this season so far….

During lockdown I spent more time gardening and doing some DIY. We enjoyed longer walks with Buddy, who was very happy to have the whole family at home! For the VE day anniversary in May our village had a socially distanced tea party with everyone having cream teas in their own front gardens and we also went to a drive-in cinema showing of Rocketman.


Olivia Davies’ experience of starting with Whitley Stimpson


Olivia joined us in Banbury in September in the role of Business Administration Apprentice, here’s a little bit about her.

What have you enjoyed so far?

I have really enjoyed getting to know everybody, both clients and colleagues. It’s been really nice being able to come to work and speak to new people every day.

I have also learnt so much in a small space of time which has been really exciting, Clare has been brilliant with all of her help and putting up with so many of my questions!

Is the role what you expected?

Yes, I’ve never done anything like this job role before but it’s definitely what I expected and I’m really enjoying it so far!

Tell us a bit about yourself…what you enjoy doing, how lockdown was for you….

For me lockdown was actually quite busy and mostly consisted of home-schooling my 9-year-old sister, Isabelle, which showed me that year 4 work is surprisingly harder than I thought it would be! Instead of following what the teacher had set her to do, she decided that she would make up her own ‘work’, one week she chose to do a project on Hawaii which was actually quite interesting! We also went on lots of walks and did a ridiculous amount of baking.

During lockdown I also began making resin earrings just for something to do, which lead to friends and family asking me to make lots of pairs for them. It has definitely become one of my favourite things to do in my spare time as I love being creative and I have developed quite a big collection of earrings in the process!


Will Membury’s experience of starting with Whitley Stimpson


Will joined Malcolm’s team in Banbury in August 2019; we caught up to see how his first year with WSL had been.

How have you found your first year at Whitley Stimpson?

I finished A-Levels in June 2019, received my results and found myself starting full time employment immediately afterwards in the August. Having undertaken work experience whilst studying for my A-levels I gained an insight into accountancy which gave me some knowledge of the career I was about to embark on. However, looking back, I definitely couldn’t predict what I would be doing so early in my time with the company; studying at Reed and doing my first exams towards the ACA, starting to go on various audits and generally gathering more experience in the workplace.

I remember feeling anxious and apprehensive about doing my first audit, but that was back in January and feels a lot longer ago than it actually is.

Adapting to working during the first lockdown was a sudden change for me, working from home, adapting to working alongside my family who were also at home whilst keeping focused on work tasks and studying in the evenings.

Why did you choose accountancy?

I found myself looking at accountancy courses at University having taken Maths, Economics and Business Studies at A-Level. I had always been interested in watching my Grandfather working as an Accountant and became involved in showing him how to use Excel and spreadsheets for his accounting! I remember seeing his desk piled high with files, and him calculating long columns of figures each day – he no longer practices but am sure he wouldn’t cope with the modern processes we have. I had also taken part in the Young Enterprise program my Sixth Form had run, volunteering as the Finance Director of the company we had set up, which gave me the chance to actually experience this role.

Tell us a bit about yourself…what you enjoy doing, how lockdown was for you….

Outside of work, I play alongside various family members in a Brass Band in Oxford, set-up by my Grandad some 40 years ago (that’s all 11 of us across 3 generations in the photo). As a band we have been hit hard with both lockdowns, missing not only playing in concerts, but competitions too which usually sustain the Bands income. It is hoped that we might dust off our instruments with some Christmas Carols – although I’m not sure I’m up for playing every night of December to make up for loss of earnings!

I have a season ticket for Oxford United who with my Dad and brother, I have followed for many years. There have been quite a few memorable experiences, including recent cup ties against Manchester City and away at Newcastle United as well 3 trips to Wembley – though we’ve unfortunately had to miss out on the league play-offs this year!!

Being at home during lockdown has been challenging in many ways – helping with garden jobs, keeping up with my friends playing PS4, and going for the occasional run – obviously after studying hard of course!

Saskya Pickering’s experience of starting with Whitley Stimpson


Saskya joined the Bicester team at the beginning of October, although she spent her first month in


What have you enjoyed so far?

So far, I have enjoyed getting to know people in both the Banbury and Bicester offices. As I have come from such a small team of only 5 people, I was quite nervous moving into a larger office but everyone has been so welcoming and helpful and made the transition very easy.

Is the role what you expected?

Yes, I have worked as a trainee accountant for the last two years and this role is quite similar to my last one. I’ve really enjoyed my experience in accountancy so far and I am looking forward to developing further in this role.

Tell us a bit about yourself…what you enjoy doing, how this year has been for you….

I have always liked fitness and since lockdown I’ve really enjoyed home workouts and trying to stay active throughout the pandemic. I’m very lucky to live on a farm where I take my two dogs for long walks, which has been perfect for meeting up socially distanced with my friends. I have also kept myself busy this year by baking most weekends. This has led to some competitive bake offs between mine and my boyfriend’s families!


Dom Shaffner’s experience of starting with Whitley Stimpson


Dom joined Malcolm’s Team in Banbury in August this year, here we find out how it’s been going…

What have you enjoyed so far?

I have enjoyed getting to know and working alongside everyone in the Banbury office and specifically in Malcolm’s team. I was quite anxious leaving sixth form and joining the world of work, but everybody has been incredibly helpful and welcoming, making the transition very smooth.

Is the role what you expected?

Previously I had done some work in the finance department for Taylor Wimpey, so I had a small glimpse into the process of accounting. I was pleasantly surprised, from the first day, to find out there was more to being an accountant than just Bank reconciliations (although still an important part of the job). Working from home has certainly changed the dynamic of the job, but I look forward to getting back to the office.

Tell us a bit about yourself…what you enjoy doing, how this year has been for you….

Pre-lockdown, I was dedicated to my studies with little time for any ‘fun’. However, lockdown allowed me to make up for lost time. My brother and I have started training together after I helped build a simple gym in our garage, although it’s hard to stay consistent with so much free time. I got back into walking with my Dog, Beau, who dislikes walking just as much as me. I also started playing Basketball again after lockdown ended, the first few sessions being particularly difficult.


Whitley Stimpson life in lockdown