Joseph explains why he chose accountancy instead of medicine, how his uncle and past presidents have been valued mentors, and offers insights into his first year on ACCA's Council.
Why did you decide to become an accountant/auditor/finance professional?
My undergraduate studies were in medical sciences. I wasn't sure what career route I would take. In my final year of studies, KPMG showed interest in me as I was top of my class. And when I graduated, my uncle (Abayomi Adeyemi) asked if I would like to become a chartered accountant. The rest is history.
I saw a lot of alignment and synergies between accountancy and my first degree - medical physiology - solving complex problems, finding solutions and offering advice and counsel.
So I started on my ACCA journey about 10 years ago. ACCA was a clear brand choice for me, as I saw it provided an unsurpassed reach and relevance.
What would you say to someone considering accountancy as a career?
I’d say a very big 'Yes!'
I always offer the same advice my uncle gave me to all my mentees and young professionals: whichever path you choose - entrepreneur, engineer, astronaut, whatever - an accountancy qualification will help you in your life and career journey.
Added to the big yes, I would say 'get the ACCA qualification, it will help you in business regardless of whether you are an accountant or not'.
I'm always amazed at the depths the qualification offers - it can help with strategic planning and leadership. It also makes you more collaborative.
I recall speaking to university students at ACCA events in Nigeria, Mauritius and Singapore where I shared my experiences and how my career journey has turned out and why the ACCA Qualification made an indelible impact.
What are the challenges you've experienced in your career to date?
For me, the challenges centre around globalisation, and the rapid change in regulations over corporate reporting around the world.
As accountants, we have to be at the cutting edge of technology and leverage it as a tool that can enhance what we do. We have to also understand the dynamic market place - global and local.
I find that you have to connect right across the C-suite - you need to be able to connect with others on strategic issues. Of course, the businesses in which we work require us to 'do the numbers' well, but we have to deal with other stakeholders who want to see how the dots connect. I think ACCA members are very adept at drawing the connections.
What are the opportunities you've experienced in your career to date?
ACCA has helped me with employability - it's helped me to get a career I want.
Despite an unrelated medical science background, ACCA has opened and still opens doors for me in the world of finance. I have been privileged to work with two of the Big 4 firms in Nigeria. I currently lead the Climate change and Sustainability services unit at EY in West Africa.
Another great opportunity for me is chairing the Nigeria Economic Summit Group's (NESG) Sustainability Policy commission. I find that having the ACCA Qualification, coupled with my CPD, I am up to date and up to speed on the skills and knowledge needed to chair this group. The NESG is Nigeria's leading private sector think-tank committed to the development of a competitive economy through promoting and championing of reforms of the Nigerian economy.
What does being a Council member mean to you?
It means a lot.
ACCA is probably one of the few professional organisations in the world that provide a great breadth and depth of experience and knowledge. When it comes to Council, we have a commitment to service. Serving on Council provides me with the opportunity to make a contribution to ACCA and indeed, the accounting profession at the highest level.
ACCA members can make a contribution in many other ways - for instance, I started my journey to Council by showing interest in the local member group in Nigeria. I was elected to the International Assembly in 2014, and then stood for election to Council in 2015 - this is my second year, and I think it has been a humbling experience.
I have been privileged to meet four past presidents of ACCA and, looking through their eyes, I see what makes ACCA tick. Their passion and commitment to the profession resonates with me in a strong way. Strategy 2020 excites me and how we work together with the Executive Team to achieve it is enriching.
What does being a member of a professional body mean to you? / Why does professionalism matter?
To be a member of a professional body demonstrates that you've gone through the rigour of taking a professional exam, developed from being a student to a member, and that you have made a commitment to continuous professional development. It demonstrates to employers and other colleagues that you take your professional development very seriously.
I am proud to be a member of ACCA, and I am proud to be a part of a professional body that innovates - we were the first professional body to prepare an Integrated Report and this innovation, this 'Thinking Ahead', is important to me.
What is the biggest issues facing the profession now, in five and in 10 years' time?
The issues facing accountants are around globalisation - it's all-pervasive.
There are also a number of technical issues, such as changes in accounting standards. Over the past two decades, the FASB and IASB have been working on global convergence of accounting standards, and this remains a major issue - accountants all over the world will be working to one set of quality, transparent standards. It's taken a lot of time to pace this, but it is accelerating.
All accountants need to be up to date on innovation and other regulatory changes happening around the world.
We also need to be more aware of cloud computing - there are more complex accounting systems now, and so there is a need for new skills in IT. Climate change and environmental accounting will also continue to be very important.
What does public value mean to you?
Accountants perform many important fiduciary duties, and as such, we sign up to - and adhere to - a code of ethics with ACCA and with IFAC. We need to be people of integrity. All stakeholders can expect a high level of professionalism and ethical behaviour from ACCA qualified accountants.
What's the biggest misconception about the work that you do?
That all accountants are buried in the minute of details, without seeing the big picture. That we worry about expenses, that we are not forward looking. All that is so untrue! These perceptions are thankfully changing. The ACCA Qualification is helping to lead this change, because it gives people the big picture. ACCA members are more business orientated, who can help with strategic issues, such as when a company needs to deal with a disruptive innovation.
The role of the professional accountant goes above and beyond the numbers - we can see the trends, and we can make the links to strategy and innovation.
Who has had the greatest impact on your career development and why?
My uncle, ACCA's members on International Assembly and Council.
My uncle is young and, in some respects, he has been fast-tracked too - he’s a CEO of an investment company, and I've seen the practical steps of how he has developed himself.
Along the way, I have also met people at ACCA who have been an inspiration too. I have a great working relationship with the officers and the Executive Team at ACCA. There’s a wealth of experience here that is very humbling for me.
I am young in my career, and there is a lot to learn. Within the network of ACCA members and fellows I can benefit from their insights too - it's a strong network of members from all over the world. I can learn so much from them.
The relevance and reach of ACCA means I can also give something back. But I can also learn so much from ACCA colleagues across the world.
What's the most important part of your role on Council?
That we are ambassadors and advocates for ACCA. In my first year on Council, I took part in many active discussions that I found enlightening. The debates are necessary to ensure that, as custodians, Council members take decisions that are in the best interest of the association and its important stakeholders - members.
I find the meetings with the Chief Executive, Helen Brand and the Executive Team insightful, especially discussions on ACCA's strategic performance. It's also good to hear from ACCA staff about the brand and member engagement. I value my role on Council a great deal.