Brian McEnery, ACCA's president (2016-17) talks about what advocacy means to him Brian McEnery, ACCA's president (2016-17) talks about what advocacy means to him

Brian McEnery,
ACCA president (2016-17)

My first experience of advocacy came very early in my life and from a source very close to home. As a child, I was lucky enough to see my brother, who was four years older, working his way through the ACCA Qualification programme. Watching him, I could see the benefits of the syllabus. In fact, it was how my passion for business was first ignited. That is why I want to spend my year as ACCA president inspiring as many of you as possible into being advocates.

The day I became an ACCA member was one of the biggest days of my life, and I owe all this to seeing someone in my life benefiting from ACCA before I did. ACCA’s open access is an incredibly valuable attribute, but it’s not enough for us just to open the doors to everyone; we also need to go out and welcome people in!

The world is demanding more from professional accountants than it ever has before. The role has undergone a complete transformation over the past decade, with finance professionals going on to become business leaders, trusted expert counsel and key strategic advisers. But with this metamorphosis comes a requirement for finance professionals to equip themselves with a whole new set of skills. And that is why it is so exciting that this month sees the ACCA Qualification updated to ensure that it continues to meet the new strategic challenges that are being brought about by the 21st century’s disruptive economy.

Young people come in for a lot of criticism. There’s a phrase in Irish – ‘mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí’, which, for those of you who aren’t fluent in Gaelic, translates as ‘praise the young and they will thrive’. I believe that wholeheartedly. Many young people just need to be given an opportunity to succeed and they will take it. The opportunity I was given was ACCA, and by spreading the word, we can offer that same opportunity to thousands more young people around the world.

There are lots of different ways to be an advocate. If you want to get involved, I’d urge you to make contact with your local ACCA office, where the staff will help you get started. As for me, I have been a Council member since 2006. It’s an amazing experience – one that feels like being a non-executive director for a multinational company.

It is an immense privilege to be able to do this work for ACCA. After spending a decade on Council I have learned so much – above all to be open-minded and to work as part of a team. This is the approach I am going to take during my year as president: to be your representative, your advocate and a mentor to our next generation of ACCA-qualified professional accountants. It’s a daunting task, but I hope I do you all proud.

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Michelle Hourican,
Director, Datatrails

I am proud to be a member of the ACCA professional community, engaging with other members on a regular basis across the globe thanks to the ACCA platforms and social media.

ACCA was my passport to success hence I believe in giving back. I strive to constantly assist other ACCA students and members in achieving their goals. That's what professional friends are for!

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Mohamed Irshad,
Head of global internal audit - Americas, Schneider Electric

Pursuing a career in Accounting, I started on a journey through the ACCA exams route in 2004. This was around the same time I started my career with PwC in Dubai. ACCA has definitely given me an edge as a professional accountant. With a specific focus on ethics, ACCA is not just developing good accounting and finance professionals, but good people.

Today, with the world being smaller than ever, and opportunities in abundance worldwide, ACCA is a truly global Accounting body. Through my short career of 13 years, ACCA has been instrumental in me achieving several milestones.

If I was to point out to just two of these aspects, ACCA has delivered not only on its promise of being globally recognised through my journey from Dubai to Paris, France to my most recent move to Canada, but also in helping me grow through the ranks in PwC to where I am today as one of the Heads of Internal Audit of a Fortune Global 500 company.

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John Jaggon,
Finance Director Wernick Group, UK

I was recently invited to speak at a Finance Leadership Programme to up and coming FCs/FMs who aspire to become finance leaders of the future. Basically I was there to tell my story and hopefully inspire our future FDs.

I took them through my career development.  From my start working in private practice and being exposed to a variety clients, which included setting up the now famous BRIT School, to working for a high net worth individual, a FTSE-250 property developer and investor, a specialist media consultants specialising in film, TV and media, to setting up a niche property development company with an ex-colleague by writing their business plan and securing private equity finance to where I am today - Group FD to Britain’s largest independent manufacturer and hirer of portable and modular accommodation.  

My key message to the group was the ability to use the ACCA Qualification to adapt to varying surroundings and then find your niche where you can develop and grow as FDs.  I have often been referred to as a "non-traditional FD", which I am proud of.

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Wendy Lee
Director, Finance & Legal. Fuji Xerox (Hong Kong) Limited

Wendy tells is how the ACCA Qualification has helped her career (and more...).

Olga Kuznetsova FCCA MBA,
Director, financial planning and reporting, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC)

I got my ACCA designation while working at KPMG Ukraine.

Just after writing my final exams, I came on a secondment to KPMG Vancouver. I was working alongside with Canadian CAs and a few US CPAs. 

I recall asking my audit partners if I needed to get a Canadian CA designation in order to be successful in the firm. And the answer was “no, not unless I am a partner signing on audit opinions for listed companies – in which case it is a statutory requirement”.

There were no other ACCAs in our office of 1,500 people, but my audit partners knew what ACCA stands for, they knew the strong qualities of the ACCA graduates and that they can rely on the qualifications. I left the firm in 2011, taking my career to the government sector – Provincial Health Services Authority.

You have to know one thing: ACCA brand, unfortunately, is not yet a household name here in Canada. So I was nervous going through my interviews, wondering if the employer would recognise my letters, for I ignored the job posting requirement “CA or CGA designation is a must”.

But, to my surprise, my new bosses were aware of who ACCAs are. One from England, one from Hong Kong, they both knew and recognised [the] strong qualities ACCAs bring to the table.

I continued my leadership journey, holding progressively senior roles and expanding my portfolio. I currently hold the position of director, financial planning and reporting at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

I strongly believe that ACCA played a fundamental role in my success. My designation provided me with all the necessary training and tools in order to be successful in the field of accounting and finance.

I also know that, should I decide to move to another country, my designation, my ‘ACCA letters’ will help me and a job I want, anywhere in the world. This is what having a global accounting designation means. And this is why I am inspired to give back to ACCA.

I am currently a member of the ACCA Canada Network Panel, second year in a row, and I am hoping to get re-elected for my third year. I help organise ACCA CPD and networking events, and I also attend various business networking events and represent ACCA.

I grab any chance to improve the awareness of ACCA here in Canada. I challenge the employers to give ACCAs a chance at interviews, on equal footing with Canadian CPAs. I talk to hiring managers and recruiting firms, and ask them “are you aware of ACCA? Let me tell you more about us”. I share the stories of my journey with other ACCA members.

As a network, we support each other, give each other words of encouragement and celebrate each other’s successes. We are not just a brand, we are a global community of like-minded people with the highest standards of ethics, quality and integrity.

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Nick Shepherd,
Retired member now living in Canada

Although I left the UK over 40 years ago I have remained an ACCA member as I believe we are one of the most progressive accounting organisations globally.

As my career evolved I became more interested in the growth of the intangible economy and the importance of individual and corporate behaviour as a factor in organisational risk and business success and sustainability.

I use my almost 50 years of accounting background as an advocate and influencer to encourage the accounting profession to embrace sustainability beyond CSR and ESG.

I currently lead the integrated reporting work of the UK based Maturity Institute and I am also a member of their council. Our goal is the promotion of human capital being at the centre of organisational sustainability. My current activities involve writing on this subject for regional, national and global publications and in developing an understanding of organisational culture and how it can be understood and sustained as a core competitive advantage.

This includes exploration of the way in which the effectiveness of culture can be developed and integrated as a core aspect of integrated thinking and reporting.

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Emily Zhao Jianmin,
Director, Global Treasury, International Investment Bank

While it might be hard to name a single person who has inspired me the most, it is plain easy to name the single qualification which has benefited me the most. 

My story with ACCA started 16 years ago. Standing on one of the bridges across Singapore river, the CBD fell into full view. I whispered to myself: I want to be a true professional working in one of the tallest buildings there. The supreme power heard my prayer and showed me the way.

I searched for ‘professional courses’ in internet and landed with ACCA. I completed ACCA in two years on part time basis, I was the prize-winner for six papers and the gold medalist for the final three papers. Upon completion of ACCA, I switched my career from nursing to audit in PwC for three years. I joined an international investment bank thereafter. Stayed with the bank through global financial crisis and heightened regulatory pressure, I made my way to one of the tallest buildings in CBD.

ACCA opens many doors for me. On top of everything else, I met my husband, a fellow ACCA member, during the study. We are happily married for 13 years and raised three lovely kids together. 

Based on personal experience, I’d strongly advocate for ACCA:

  • Being a mid-career switcher, I strongly believe ACCA provides open platform for anyone who wants to pursue an accounting or finance profession.
  • Originally from China, I believe ACCA is truly a global brand which could attract people from the global pool and produce talents for the global pool.
  • Working in investment bank, I see opportunities ACCA could collaborate with other professional qualifications to enhance the employability of our members not only in traditional accounting roles but also in other related services.

I started to be involved more in ACCA events in recent years and joined the ACCA network panel in Singapore. There are many ways you could give back. Step forward and approach the local ACCA office!

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