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Heriot Watt University

Project Accountant

Job Details

Hiring Organization Heriot Watt University
Post Name Project Accountant
Qualification  Any Graduate
Industry  Private
Employment Type Full Time
Work Hours 8 Hours
Salary GBP 40000 To GBP 45000 Per Year
Location  Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom EH3

Job Description

About Heriot-Watt University                  

Heriot Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders, and Orkney), one in Dubai, and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programs in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business, and languages.

Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, which has made it one of the top UK universities for business and industry. We connect with industry at every level and develop programs to match their needs – so employers get work-ready industry-fit graduates.

Heriot-Watt is also Scotland’s most international university, boasting the largest international student cohort. We have an established set of values that help us to nurture innovation and leadership, and show our commitment to continuous improvement and development in all our activities.

About our Team                              

The Finance team is one of the Professional Services supporting the University’s mission and its strategic priorities.

On a day-to-day basis, it does this by delivering a range of financial operations:

  • routine financial transactional processing in payroll accounts payable, and accounts receivable
  • sound management accounting, including ensuring the availability of accurate and timely financial management reporting; and effective budgeting and planning
  • effective operation of financial systems
  • effective and timely delivery of statutory financial reporting

In addition, the Finance department supports the delivery of the University’s strategic plan through effective financial planning, including capital investment planning, project appraisal, and identification of sustainable funding streams.

Purpose of Role

The purpose of the role is

  • provide expert advice and be the key point of contact across the University on all aspects of project accounting and capital spending,
  • provide in-depth analysis and insight into critical projects and how they link to the University’s overall strategic aims,
  • provide support to both the senior finance team and senior members of the wider University in preparing/submitting business cases, grant applications, capital spend

Summary of Key Duties and Responsibilities:

The role-holder will provide expert advice and be the key point of contact across the University on all aspects of project accounting and capital spending. They will support senior members of Finance and of the University to maximize income/reduce costs on key projects ensuring alignment with the University strategy. The role-holder will ensure financially robust plans are appraised and committed to, with an appropriate risk/ reward balance for the University.

Key Accountabilities include.

  • Challenge and support the preparers of business cases to ensure the cases are financially robust.
  • Provide technical expertise on the treatment of income and costs in line with accounting standards and University policy.
  • Ensure the business cases are prepared in a consistent manner meeting all standards and act as a dedicated ‘center of excellence to ensure consistency of approach and quality in business case preparation prior to submission.
  • Design and gain approval for appropriate financial hurdles and targets.
  • Ensure an appropriate financial appraisal is carried out to meet agreed financial hurdles and targets.
  • Provide and/or verify financial information used in business cases.
  • Be the expert financial modeler for business cases – ensuring key matters such as cash flow forecasts, financial appraisal hurdles, tax & vat assumptions, and interpretation of standards and policy are accurate.
  • Attend internal and external meetings with academics, senior school management, bankers, and others as appropriate in preparation or challenge of business cases.
  • Work with external advisors to ensure robust and auditable Gross Value Added (‘GVA’) figures are used in all submissions.
  • Build and maintain to appropriate standards, with embedded control, a financial model
  • Ensure proposed capital projects demonstrate appropriate returns and are structured appropriately with respect to tax, VAT, discrete borrowings, etc.
  • As part of any set-up, agree on ownership of appropriate financial controls and ongoing information requirements to be provided once the venture is operational. Provide financial management of projects until close.
  • Budget and forecast any projects during set-up and transition phases (both capital and operating costs and agreed-on KPIs) until the venture is fully operating and has been transitioned to the owner.
  • Establish and have agreed, on an established set of financial input metrics (i.e., staff costs, overhead rates, project management costs). Own and maintain this dataset.
  • Establish and have agreed, on a set of business case evaluation metrics and a standard presentation format. (e.g., NPV, break-even, ROI, sensitivity options, assumptions)
  • Be the financial custodian (i.e., maintain the integrity of numbers & associated written sections) of any business cases including bids for government funding. This is distinct from being the budget or business case owner.
  • Once operational, ensure the transition of ongoing financial responsibilities to appropriate members of the wider finance team (e.g., financial accountant, business partners, etc.). Provide input into the statutory accounts process.
  • These duties are delivered under the strategic direction of the Deputy Director of Finance.

Education, Qualifications & Experience:

These are the criteria on which the short-listing and recruitment selection will be made.


  • The role-holder must be educated to a degree level and hold a recognized UK accounting qualification (e.g., ICAS, ICAEW, CIPFA, CIMA, ACCA)
  • Demonstrable experience in managing virtual teams
  • Demonstrable experience in managing resources, workloads, and changing priorities for self and others
  • Demonstrable experience in managing change
  • Ability to operate in a complex global environment
  • Demonstrable ability to work within a fast-changing environment
  • Proven experience in dealing with and leading in uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent Influencing Skills
  • Good track record of developing and maintaining positive working relationships with internal and external customers, peers, stakeholders, and others
  • Subject Matter Expert in business case preparation/ challenge within a large, complex organization. He/she will have developed an expert knowledge of accepted good practice with modeling and risk/stress testing in particular
  • Flexible and resilient
  • Collaborative and proactive

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