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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Taylor Dwyer,
Chief financial officer, Sonobello

I have been luckily enough to work with inspirational business leaders and founders, travelled to many countries and cultures, solved exciting business challenges with some of the smartest minds and project teams. However, I can still vividly remember the sense of pride and joy the day I was accepted into the ACCA - it will remain one of my proudest moments.

The qualification has provided me with so many opportunities and life changing options that advocacy comes easy. I have lived in the USA for the last six years and remain a staunch supporter of the ACCA.

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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...).

James Lehman,
Corporate auditor, Commercial Metals Company, Las Colinas

I grew up in the southeast Texas countryside and graduated Texas A&M College Station in 1990 with an accounting degree. Upon university graduation I accepted a position as operations auditor for the corporate office of a large waste disposal company in Houston. For four years I worked under the supervision of several Texas CPAs while simultaneously passing the US CPA exam. 

I had always wanted to live and work in Europe for a few years, so I commenced a six-year stint with the audit practices of E&Y and KPMG Warsaw in 1994. While at KPMG I joined ACCA because I liked its syllabus and broad common body of knowledge.

In 2000 I transferred into fast-moving consumer goods as finance manager and then director for Campina Poland, a Dutch-owned dairy cooperative and producer of milk-based desserts for five years during which time Poland acceded to the EU.

I started taking ACCA examinations around this time, but without great success due to the demands of my role in the company.

After eleven years in Poland, I returned to the US to work in Maine for a couple of years as a recycling company[’s] financial analyst and then decided I had endured enough of cold climates. 

In 2007 I moved back to Texas and continue to enjoy my home state while working as corporate auditor for Commercial Metals Company (CMC), a steel producer.

I passed ACCA papers using the texts and revision books, and it was a long road. For many years I had been looking forward to the day when I would become a member. 

When I became a member I certainly didn't feel differently about myself, and then I realised that the journey to membership had truly been the critical aspect of the entire experience, in my case. That helped me to realise why I've run 42-kilometer marathon events 75 times and also why I like to work on intermediate to long-term projects professionally. I enjoy those journeys and the colleagues who are team members with me.

In addition to the subject matter syllabus and P2 International Stream content, I learned a lot about myself from this ACCA experience. I'm glad to still be a part of ACCA. 

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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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Theresa Yeboah CPA,
Senior accountant

Even though I grew up in the States, I have always had a passion to travel internationally and learn different cultures and languages. My dream is to travel the world and hopefully live in different countries one day.

I first learned about the ACCA when I travelled to the United Kingdom while I was in University. Everywhere I would go, everyone would ask me if I am working towards getting my ACCA. I would always say that I aspire to get my CPA which is the USA equivalent of the ACCA.

Over the years, I learned more about the ACCA and how rigorous and challenging it is to become an ACCA. I knew that one day I would take on the challenge to get my ACCA after I received my CPA.

A few years later, one day I was scrolling down my Facebook page and I saw an advertisement by Becker for their study program which was specifically for US CPAs who want to become ACCAs. The title of the ad read something similar to this ‘Are you an accountant who wants to travel the world? Become an ACCA and be chartered globally.’ I immediately thought to myself ‘Yes, where do I sign up!’. I clicked on the article and learned more about the process to become an ACCA and purchased the Becker study program right after.

From then on, I have been taking the exams and thankfully I only have 3 more exams to go. It has definitely been a challenging and rewarding experience especially since I am doing this by myself and I do not know anyone else who is taking the exams in the States.

I am grateful for the opportunity to grow as an accounting professional and to learn IFRS in depth. This, in addition to my experience as a CPA with knowledge of US GAAP, will definitely set me up for success.

The ACCA is recognised globally and the perfect path for people like me who aspire to travel and become a global accountant.

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