Mark Surridge, management auditor at Coors Brewers Limited, has been adhering to ACCA's CPD requirements for almost three years.
Mark was recruited to the position of management auditor when Coors Brewers Limited made the decision to hire qualified accountants to provide the board of directors with assurance on the efficiency of controls and operations.
Mark is deployed to different areas of the business, working as an internal advisor, to review how things are done.
Working for an approved employer – professional development
Mark’s employer, Coors Brewers Ltd, is an Approved Employer – professional development. As such, Mark does not have to track his CPD through the unit route: however, he is still required to make an annual CPD return to ACCA and keep evidence of his employment with an Approved Employer.
“Although I currently don’t have to document the number of units I achieve, I have followed the unit route previously, and following the employer route to CPD now hasn’t changed my approach to the activities I undertake for my learning and development. For me, CPD is incredibly important. The days of the grey suited accountant are long gone; the modern accountant needs to be up-to-date in a variety of skills to satisfy the needs of a business.”
A mix of technical and soft skills
Mark says, “Coors very much support my development and I have access to range of resources to ensure my knowledge and skills grow. This is because they are aware, of course, that being up-to-date is critical. You can’t review an area of the business, make recommendations over performance improvement or enhanced controls if they aren’t going to aid the business in any way.
Similarly, a solid base of technical skills are essential, but to really make a difference the accountant must have negotiation skills and influencing skills to sit alongside that financial acumen. This allows accountants to not just let somebody else make a decision, but to be involved in the decision themselves.”
Mark is challenged in new areas – technical and soft skills – every time he reviews a different area of the business. One of the areas he was recently required to focus on was marketing – which involved quickly learning about concepts like brand strategy and positioning. Most recently, however, Mark has been working on developing new business processes for Coors’ China operations.
Cultural Awareness: preparing to do business in China
“Prior to visiting China I had to understand the goals and direction for Coors in Asia. I did a lot of preparation before my two-week trip to Hong Kong (Asia HQ), Guangzhou and various parts of mainland China. I had to learn new technical skills, for example, Chinese GAAP and VAT.
I also had a lot to learn about doing business in China and how to work within the confines of local business practices. Culturally and practically, doing business in China is very different to doing business in the UK and US. The Chinese have a very personal way of doing business. Additionally, there are provincial differences to be aware of.”
“I felt it was important to learn basic etiquette – otherwise my recommendations would be harder to implement. In addition to accessing information on the web (my first port of call tends to be Google), many of my UK and US colleagues have spent time working in China, so I picked their brains quite a lot too.”
How does this activity translate into CPD?
Heather Venis, ACCA’s Head of Training Policy & Professional Development, advises “one of the common misconceptions I have come across is that CPD is something which has to be done separately to a member’s job.
When you consider the key principle underpinning continuing professional development - relevance to the individual’s role or career aspirations - then it becomes clear that one of the richest sources of professional development must surely be within a professional’s workplace.
“Mark’s hours spent studying Chinese GAAP in order to fulfil a significant consultancy role for his Board is a perfect example of learning at work. If he were following the unit route, the hours spent learning this would constitute verifiable CPD units.
If Mark were able to clearly explain how the learning applies to his role and provide ACCA with the contact details of a colleague who could verify this learning activity, or evidence of his subsequent report on the market where he applied this knowledge, ACCA would be more than satisfied.”
Mark undertook CPD during 2007 in a variety of different ways: these included:
- ACCA Network Events
- E-learning through accaglobal.com
- Studying trade press for the brewing industry and technical articles from ACCA and other professional bodies
- Quarterly “Town Hall” meetings at work covering key issues for the company and industry
- Newsletters featuring accounting and regulatory updates on China
- Undertaking the Coors Brewery Tour – increasing product and process knowledge
- DVD learning and updates from US head-office