The global body for professional accountants


Director of Médecins Sans Frontières Ireland

Jane-Ann McKenna

Jane-Ann McKenna

Route to ACCA Membership:

2003 Degree in Commerce (BComm)

2004 Masters in International Business (MBS)

2004 Joined AIB International Corporate Banking Ireland, began ACCA studies

2007 Became an ACCA member

2012 Awarded FCCA status

Any student wondering how far ACCA membership could take them should look at the career to date of Jane-Ann McKenna, who has used her accountancy skills not only to change sector, from finance to not-for-profit, but also to change continents, travelling extensively on behalf of her employer Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the independent humanitarian medical aid organisation.

With a Bachelors and Masters degree already under her belt, Jane-Ann enrolled with ACCA on joining AIB International Corporate Banking Ireland. ‘I had a broad understanding of different business practices and models but wanted to develop my technical skills,’ she comments. ‘I also realised that a professional qualification could enhance my overall skill set and my ability to work in other environments.’ Jane-Ann reached affiliate status while working as a relationship officer in AIB’s corporate banking division. ‘Progressing to membership was the next logical step,’ she says, ‘especially as ACCA is internationally recognised and therefore particularly useful in the NGO sector.’

And it was in this sector that Jane-Ann had always hoped to develop her career, inspired by three months spent as a volunteer in a Romanian orphanage when only 18. Realising her ambition, Jane-Ann joined MSF in 2008 as a finance and HR co-ordinator, first travelling to North Sudan before moving on to Sri Lanka. ‘Both postings involved all elements of financial management, from bookkeeping to risk assessment, but also - most importantly - making sure the right financial controls and practices were in place to ensure transparency and independence,’ she says. ‘This is vital for MSF as over 90 per cent of our funding comes from private individuals and donors so we have to be able to show how we spend the money we receive.’

After further postings to Kyrgyzstan and the Central African Republic, Jane-Ann returned to Dublin where she is now head of MSF Ireland. ‘Having both a business background and an accountancy qualification is a great benefit,’ she says, ‘as I am able to manage different business functions and undertake strategic planning. We also, increasingly, have to account for office costs as well as field operations, and to do this we must be completely professional and transparent, which makes ACCA membership particularly relevant.’

Whatever sector you plan to work in, Jane-Ann is adamant that ACCA membership should be the main goal: ‘Exams provide the tools you need, but work experience is key to understanding and applying the practical elements of your training. Membership also gives you the flexibility to work in different sectors around the world – as shown by my career with MSF.’