Chansa Chiteba, a Chief Executive Officer based in Zambia, completed his first CPD return under the new requirements, on 1 January 2006. ACCA interviewed Chansa to explore how, as a senior ACCA member, he approaches his CPD.
Chansa Chiteba FCCA is CEO of Stewart & Paisley in Lusaka, Zambia. Set up three years ago by Chansa, Stewart & Paisley now employs seven permanent staff and also uses a network of qualified accountants as and when required.
As well as identifying and meeting his own CPD requirements, Chansa also ensures that his staff have opportunities to undertake their own CPD. ‘The CPD process is invaluable to our firm because it assists in keeping us updated and in touch with global developments. In our industry, knowledge is power and it enhances our reputation. Can you imagine the repercussions of giving a client outdated or incorrect advice? Totally unacceptable.’
Chansa identifies his own CPD requirements in relation to the latest developments both in the accounting profession and in the business world in general. His CPD activity can vary to include not only technical and regulatory updates, but also strategy and leadership ability, and informal information gathering in many fields including corporate governance and HR. ‘My knowledge base naturally has a direct impact on the firm and it is essential for me to keep up to date with a broad range of issues.’
In addition, Chansa believes that he must lead by example. ‘As head of my organisation leading by example helps my staff follow in my footsteps with their learning so that we meet and hopefully exceed our clients’ expectations. For this reason, I have no problem following the unit route: as well as benefiting me, it helps me to set the right example for my staff.”
To keep his technical knowledge up to date, Chansa regularly attends courses, which help him to meet the verifiable CPD requirement. ‘As a practitioner it is mandatory for me to keep up to date, but also it is essential for me to be able to pass on the knowledge I learn to my staff.
For me, it is important that my staff in the ‘firing line’ are well equipped with knowledge. Last year, for example, I attended courses on subjects including IFRS, risk management, implications of IFRS on Zambia, money laundering, bank fraud, and latest developments in the accounting profession – many of these were organised by ACCA Zambia and also the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants. Wherever possible, I cascaded information I learned to staff.’
Chansa finds day to day management of Stewart & Paisley enables him to stretch his skills in management and strategy. ‘As well as myself, we have some partners who do not work full-time with my practice but contribute to our overall strategy. We have meetings most months and in these meetings we aim to guide the future direction of the company.
We discuss strategy and all issues that affect us as a growing Zambian firm. There is always the possibility of mergers with other firms in order to make us function better and we investigate the possibilities of these. There are often opportunities to learn from my partners during these strategic discussions.’
In terms of his staff, Chansa is committed to ensuring that his staff receive training in order to carry out their roles effectively as well as progressing their careers. ‘I understand the importance of continually learning. I have experienced circumstances in organisations I worked for in the past where members of staff were found to be ignorant of various important issues.
In one such circumstance, we lost a client because of this lack of knowledge. As a business owner I understand the importance of reputation. The moment we advise a client wrongly because we are not aware of current issues, it permanently damages our reputation.’
All Stewart & Paisley staff undergo a programme of assessment after every engagement. In addition, every six months they have an appraisal to see how well they have done throughout the year. The outcome of the appraisal can often lead to a promotion or further professional qualifications.
‘I also acknowledge that interacting with my staff is an opportunity for me to learn. For example, we regularly run staff workshops – the last one was on IFRS,’ says Chansa. ‘This is an important opportunity for us all to learn from each other. Also, on the last Friday of the month we meet for a presentation made by members of staff about a current issue.
The last one was on the adoption of IAS 34. We all find this extremely useful both from a personal skills perspective - to prepare the presentation – and also from a technical perspective – because by listening to the presentations we learn a lot. Focusing on both personal and technical skills benefits us and our clients.’
All staff keep a record of their development activity in the central office. Chansa himself uses ACCA’s online evidence tool for this, because he finds it user friendly and convenient. ‘I particularly like the fact that the evidence tool encourages the user to consider the relevance of any learning activity.
If an activity isn’t relevant and useful to the individual, it will not benefit the company. This is key for me when I am considering my learning needs in relation to my company, and it’s key for my staff. I also like the fact that I can go in and update my evidence record at any time throughout the year.’
Finally, in addition to all of this activity, Chansa relaxes by enjoying a game or two of golf which enables him not only to keep up his putting skills, but also to network with fellow accountants and CEOs. ‘I have often come away from a game of golf with knowledge I might not otherwise have gained from my peers.
It can on occasion be just as effective as a formal business meeting in terms of keeping up with industry news. I suspect many members at a senior level pick up information in similarly unorthodox ways, and it is gratifying to know that ACCA’s scheme is flexible enough to recognise this type of learning activity as non-verifiable CPD.’