Advocacy awards Members who give back
Members who give back
This year’s ACCA Regional Advocacy Awards winners are promoting the profession across the globe
Philip Smith, journalist
Advocacy comes in many forms. From supporting the financial education of our children through to representing accountancy at the highest regulatory levels, ACCA members are demonstrating the power behind their professional qualification. And this is demonstrated no more so than by the winners of this year’s ACCA Advocacy Awards.
The awards, now in their fifth year, showcase ACCA members who are giving back to the profession in a number of ways. They recognize those professionals who are inspiring future accountants, supporting their communities and strengthening the ACCA brand.
As John Weston, ACCA’s head of secretariat – member governance and advocacy, says: ‘Our advocacy awards recognize the fantastic contributions our members make not only to ACCA but to the profession as a whole. The awards recognize the ways in which their contributions have changed lives, opened doors and inspired the next generation of professional accountants.’
‘Giving back’ is a constant theme among this year’s winners. (See below.) They recognize how the ACCA Qualification has been of enormous benefit in their own careers, and so are committed to passing on that opportunity to those in their communities. It could be through mentoring and coaching, or helping to develop and promote the value of the qualification into new markets, or even demonstrating how, through their own behavior, accountancy can be a force for the public good and can act in the public interest.
‘All our advocates will demonstrate a set of behaviors and a state of mind that promotes the values of the profession,’ Weston says. ‘And through their actions they mobilise other members and spread the word.’
Sathya Dhulipala, Joe O’Regan and Kelly Chan
Eurasia and New Markets
Sathya Dhulipala ACCA, a senior consultant with Deloitte in India, got involved with an ACCA financial literacy programme aimed at schoolchildren, which was launched last year – in part as a result of her own experience. When she first started to earn a salary in her late teens, she realised that there were many aspects of money, tax and finance that she had not been taught about in school.
‘I knew I could add value to the project by using my knowledge of financial management to help explain this to schoolchildren,’ she says. ‘Money drives everything, and we should all be in a position to be able to make decisions, but we need to be able to explain this to a 15-year-old.’
Now, more than 150 schools in India have signed up to the free two-year programme. But Dhulipala is keen to help in other ways, such as through mentoring. ‘I will always go into schools and colleges to talk about the ACCA Qualification and show how it isn’t just about audit and tax, as I recognise it has helped me in my career as a consultant.’
Europe and Americas
Mentoring is a constant theme among the award winners. But it is not always at the start of someone’s career when mentoring is needed. Joe O’Regan FCCA, head of global support services at Harvard University, often finds himself reaching out to ACCA members who have arrived in the US.
‘The first few months can be so confusing, and it is not easy to get your foot in the door,’ says O’Regan, who is originally from Ireland. ‘Our local ACCA chapter meetings represent a very diverse group of professionals, from places such as the UK, mainland China, Hong Kong and many countries in Africa.
‘When we go around the room and say where we are from, we can see how a great qualification can drive such diversity as well.’
Other winners also speak of this diversity, and also about inclusion. Kelly Chan FCCA, managing director at Peony Consulting in Hong Kong, says: ‘Inclusion is a very important aspect; ACCA exams are open to everyone.’ Her advocacy work has included involving ACCA with the Association of Women Accountants in Hong Kong, notably through events based around environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. ‘Gender diversity is so important; we can join hands together,’ she says.
For Chan, ACCA’s four letters stand for Authenticity, Credibility, Capability and Agility
– a message she has been spreading for the past two decades. She says that, for Hong Kong members, the ACCA Qualification is a very important aspect in enabling them to work abroad.
‘It is a well-recognised qualification, and the knowledge is mobile,’ she says.
‘Mainland China is becoming more international, which is one of the reasons why ACCA is one of the top qualifications for Chinese companies. And it provides access to a network of more than 230,000 professionals around the world.’
Gaurav Kushwaha, Sajindu Perera and Alexander Njombe
This global community is evident in the work that Gaurav Kushwaha FCCA carries out as an advocate for ACCA. During the Covid-19 pandemic Kushwaha – who is accountancy and finance manager at oil and gas group Shapoorji Pallonji, based in Singapore – helped bring to life the idea of a global run/walk/ride. ‘We could not have any face-to-face interaction, so the idea was to create connections while staying fit and sharing experiences,’ he explains.
The global challenge brought together the ACCA community by collectively walking, running or riding enough miles to reach around the world (41,000km) while raising money for the World Health Organization-led Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
‘We had 250 participants from 35 countries, some were even clocking in their skiing results,’ Kushwaha says. ‘It helped us connect with the rest of the world, and allowed us to stay local but go global.’
Middle East–South Asia
The value of the ACCA network is not wasted on Sajindu Perera ACCA, deputy general manager at MAS Holdings in Sri Lanka. She believes in the importance of bringing together those at the start of their professional career with members with more experience.
‘We need to promote young talent but recognise the diversity of age,’ she says. ‘The Millennial generation and Generation Z may be more vocal, but we need to ensure that experience isn’t lost, so we need to build connections between all parts of the generational spectrum.’
Perera is also proud of how ACCA has taken a lead on social and environmental matters. ‘We have been one step ahead,’ she says. ‘It was seven years ago when we were looking at “new” concepts such as sustainability.’
At the same time, she recognises how ACCA has helped her to develop softer skills and clear ethics. ‘I truly believe I have learnt this from ACCA,’ she says.
It is this forward thinking that inspires Alexander Njombe FCCA, managing partner at KPMG in Tanzania. ‘Today, we need accountants who are predictive analysts,’ he says. ‘The world is changing and accountants need to look to the future.’
However, he recognises how the aftermath of the pandemic is shaping the accountants of the future. ‘It has not been easy for junior staff,’ he says. ‘We are a training ground, but our students’ education has been interrupted. The human resources and talent space is somewhat different than before the pandemic. We are now looking for people who can work independently, and emotional intelligence is becoming key.’
Njombe has also been an advocate for ACCA in his dealings with national regulators. ‘We are looking at areas where we can collaborate and help transform the profession,’ he says. ‘For instance, our member network panel draws on professionals from different sectors so we have the opportunity to share best practice and experience.’ And this is what sums up advocacy. It is this sense of sharing and giving back – at an individual, corporate, national and international level – that drove the award winners to become, and continue to be, advocates for ACCA and the wider profession.
This year’s regional runners up and national winners are:
Alfred Brian Agaba FCCA, Uganda
Aziza Lovell FCCA, Bermuda
Gabriel MacGrath FCCA, Ireland Mark Doherty FCCA, Australia
Petronella Zyuulu FCCA, Zambia
Riaduzzaman Ridoy FCCA, Bangladesh
Robert Belle ACCA, Kenya
Sharon Barnes-Simmonds FCCA, Canada
Taha Shabbir Ali ACCA, Middle East
Taiye Adedeji ACCA, Nigeria
Tinashe Robert Murerekwa ACCA, Zimbabwe
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