Different places, same CA values...

By Jann Brown CA

8 April 2015

Jann Brown CA looks back on the triumphs and challenges of the past year and the joy of meeting fellow CAs from Shetland to Singapore.

A few simple lines from the famous Burns poem Tam O'Shanter capture how I feel as I look back at my year as ICAS President.

Pleasures are like poppies spread, You seize the flower, its bloom is shed; Or like the snow falls in the river, A moment white - then melts for ever.

It has indeed been full of pleasures, but the moment has gone so quickly.

The past 12 months will leave me with many memories. Most of all, wherever I went I was reminded that so much binds us together as CAs, despite the myriad of ways in which we work in a multitude of places.

As CFO of Cairn Energy, I had great CAs in my own team. I encountered others who advised us from the big firms and some ploughing the furrows of financial leadership in the energy sector and the FTSE 100. But as President of ICAS, you meet every strand of the profession - from the small practitioner in Shetland, to the global CFOs of Asia and the students just starting out on their CA journey.

As President, you see those common ties so clearly - ethics, professionalism, integrity and leadership. This was what I saw, time and time again, meeting CAs the length and breadth of the UK and around the world.

In London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham, I met many of the new faces of ICAS in England. Bright, young and mainly female! In Orkney, Shetland, Aberdeen, and Inverness I met many CAs who are the lifeblood of their communities as trusted and valued business advisers. The backbone of our Institute.

In Hong Kong, I encountered movers and shakers who set out for this magazine the future course of commerce in Asia and China. In Singapore, Canada, Houston, Jersey and Luxembourg, I felt the passion of CAs for the qualification and the values that we stand for.

Different people. Different places. Same values. Same passion

During my presidency, we celebrated our 160th anniversary with energy and pride. We navigated our way through the tricky waters of the Scottish independence referendum.

We launched a brilliant mentoring programme that we must grow and grow. We developed our ICAS Foundation to the extent that it now supports nearly 40 young people in their education.

As my year in office started, we began to articulate how "Virtual ICAS" could connect our CAs globally through an excellent digital experience. As my year in office ends, we are about to see the first fruits of that project - digital channels launching in the next few weeks as the start of a digital transformation of the way ICAS does business and communicates with you.

All these achievements are possible because of the commitment of the staff in our great Institute and because of the number of members who willingly give their time to support us in our efforts.

There are other moments that stand out, too

While doing my bit for ICAS/Irish accounting relations, I found myself as a guest at the All Ireland Hurling Final in front of 82,000 people at Croke Park in Dublin. Hailed by some as the greatest hurling match ever, it ended in a draw. I've never seen excitement like it.

When considering my last words as President, I thought of some of the most famous final utterances in history.

Admiral Nelson lay on deck, shot by a sniper at the Battle of Trafalgar and claimed: "I have done my duty."

Cecil Rhodes, not content with founding Rhodesia, becoming one of the wealthiest men in the world and changing British and African colonial history, sighed with his last breath: "So little done, so much to do."

And then there was the American Civil War General, John Sedgwick, whose confident last words as he surveyed the enemy were, "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." Unfortunately, for the General, he was wrong.

Fortunately, for me, I am not shuffling off this mortal coil but merely handing the baton of presidency to the next leader of our Institute, Jim Pettigrew CA.

But, as an epitaph to my presidency, I will leave you with these last words - words that I've spoken often in the last 12 months.

Quaere verum. Seek the truth. Or, as Spike Lee would say: "Do the right thing."

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  • CA Magazine
  • Professional profiles
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