Jim Pettigrew: Bright future for accountancy as young CAs shine

By Jim Pettigrew CA, ICAS President

11 November 2015

Jim Pettigrew is inspired by the changing profile of ICAS as young professionals join, attend events and use their skills for the greater good.

“The youth is the hope of our future,” proclaimed the Filipino nationalist José Rizal.

He was a young man executed for sparking revolution through his writing, more than 120 years ago. Now a national hero, Rizal is an inspiration to Filipinos in the way that Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi are in their countries and around the world. Like all of them, Rizal advocated liberty through peaceful means.

More than a century on from Rizal’s death, the young leaders of our generation will gather in Thailand in a couple of weeks to address the seismic global issues of today – education, the environment, leadership, peace, security and doing global business.

Among the 6,000 young people from nearly 200 countries attending One Young World will be Indy Hothi CA, representing the membership of ICAS.

In the words of its founders, One Young World is a “global movement that aims to inspire action”. As they put it: “We want young people to know and to believe that they can make a positive difference in the world. And then to go and make that difference.”

Indy Hothi works for EY as an analyst, but a significant part of his time since he qualified as a CA has been spent helping with humanitarian aid in disaster areas, war zones and places of civil conflict around the globe. His story, so far, is an inspiration.

Indy will be joined at One Young World by chartered accountants representing professional bodies from England, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. His work while he is there will be communicated back to our membership on social media and across our digital channels. He already has nearly 8,000 followers on Twitter.

Equally inspiring are the stories of the many other young CAs who were nominated. They have done remarkable things in their short professional lives but not just in the world of finance. They have taken their CA skills and combined them with a passion for making a difference. For many, their focus has been helping with humanitarian projects often in challenging and dangerous environments. Their goal has been quite simply to make the world a better place.

CAs throughout our history have contributed in remarkable ways to solving the world’s problems. Does the evidence of this new generation of CAs point to a greater appetite in our younger members than there has ever been before to stretch the boundaries of where a CA can add value?

The importance of our younger members to the Institute has never been more to the fore with the Council and leaders of ICAS. They are now the largest segment of our membership, and those under 35 years of age now make up one third of all our CAs.

Being relevant to our younger CAs and honouring their achievements is hugely important. I was fascinated by the fact that of those members who attended recent events cruising on the Thames on the PS Waverley and viewing the celebrity photographs of David Bailey in Edinburgh, nearly 70 per cent were under 35.

Dinners that I have held for members in Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol have also seen a healthy attendance from our younger CAs. In days gone by ICAS would have seemed a most unlikely youth movement. But maybe times they are a-changing.

Judging from the many younger CAs I have met in the past few weeks and by the compelling evidence of entrants to our One Young CA competition, if youth is the hope for our future, ICAS has a very bright future indeed.

Could you mentor the next generation of CAs? Sign up to the ICAS career mentoring programme and share your knowledge and experience with the leaders of tomorrow.


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