This article was first published in the May 2019 China edition of Accounting and Business magazine.

ACCA’s advocacy awards celebrate the achievements of individual members who have acted in a variety of ways to promote ACCA, the ACCA Qualification or the accountancy profession in general.

‘The idea for advocacy came from understanding the pride members have in the qualification and in having worked so hard to achieve it,’ says John Weston, ACCA’s head of member advocacy and satisfaction. ‘Some members overcome all sorts of challenges to get the qualification and then have fulfilling careers. As a consequence, there’s a huge willingness to go out and spread the word.’

But there are benefits for the advocate too. Those who advocate ACCA benefit personally and professionally, and it is true to say that the more you contribute to ACCA, the more you will get out of it.

The concept of advocacy has deliberately been defined in very broad terms, allowing it to encompass a range of activities that members undertake in promoting ACCA and the profession. This could involve talking to school or university students about the potential of an accounting or finance career and the benefits of the ACCA Qualification, or promoting ACCA professionals to employers. It might involve taking part in ACCA committees and initiatives, or participating in a broader forum to share a professional perspective.

Realising that many members spontaneously act in such ways, ACCA launched its inaugural advocacy awards in 2017, with winners recognised the following March. The positive response from around the world confirmed a strong and widespread desire to celebrate the achievements and activities of ACCA members who act as advocates for the accountancy profession.

National winners

This year the comprehensive selection process again began with the identification of national winners in 17 countries. These national winners were then assessed by panels of senior members, including members of ACCA’s governing Council, to come up with six regional winners.

Nominees were asked to provide supporting evidence to show how they had demonstrated advocacy in action in a variety of ways: attracting and inspiring the next generation of accountants; developing or supporting other members; sustaining and building ACCA’s reputation; and leading the profession.

Choosing the regional winners was a challenging process, triggering extensive discussions. Nevertheless, six outstanding regional ACCA advocates were finally selected, and their successes are being celebrated in their home markets among friends and colleagues.

The winners come from both private and public sector backgrounds. Through their various forms of advocacy they have increased ACCA members’ skills and knowledge by using social media and improving access to technology courses. They have also inspired and mentored future generations of ACCA students, encouraged wider business understanding of the importance of corporate governance and ethics, and identified how ACCA professionals can improve the lot of humanity.

Six of the best

The six regional advocacy award winners, who took the initiative to lead and inspire while presenting ACCA in the best possible light, are as follows:

  • Middle East and South Asia (MESA): Suren Rajakarier FCCA, partner and head of audit and assurance, KPMG Sri Lanka
  • Emerging markets: Jaroslaw Grzegorz FCCA, associate partner in forensic and integrity services, EY Poland
  • Europe and Americas: Etain Doyle FCCA, executive coach and non-executive director based in Ireland
  • ASEAN and ANZ: Alice Tan FCCA, chief financial adviser at the Land Transport Authority of Singapore
  • China and Hong Kong: Major Qinxue Mei FCCA, chief operating officer and chief HR officer, Jiawei Renewable Energy
  • Africa: Paul Ankunda FCCA, head of finance and administration for the financial management and accountability programme hosted by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Uganda.

‘There are many inspiring stories, and choosing winners from among such active advocates is very hard,’ says Weston. ‘Advocacy is such an inclusive, broad, umbrella term. It could range from talking to your neighbour about what their teenager is going to do for a career, to helping build the profession in your country.

‘This year’s winners have all proved to be leading advocates for ACCA and the profession. The willingness of such members to share their experiences for the benefit of others is outstanding, and I would encourage more members to come forward and share their pride in ACCA and their own advocacy stories.’