Why I will be attending another ICAS Summit: Duncan Wilson

Duncan Wilson at Summit
Duncan Wilson CA By Duncan Wilson

6 June 2018

Duncan Wilson, ICAS Student and member of the Young Leaders Network, shares his experience from the Young CAs Summit 2018, held in association with Investec Click & Invest. Find out why he plans to keep coming back.

At 7.30pm on 21 June, I was standing 42 floors above London enjoying the sunset and being schooled on the intricacies of selling fish to the French. Glasses of (free) wine were floating around the room and the aura of bonhomie was palpable.

I was attending the ICAS Young CAs Summit and taking in the fascinating stories of the CAs in the room.

The timing of this event could scarcely have been better as I was still mulling over an encounter with a lawyer the day before. Upon learning I was studying to become a chartered accountant, they mused that accountants were, without a doubt, the most boring people in the world.

When confronted with a similar remark in future, I will now be able to return fire.

The line was delivered with lazy confidence and I suspect many readers have experienced this stereotype at some point in their professional lives.

However, the conversation got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be great to have more weapons to fend off these assaults?

The Young CAs Summit proved to be that arsenal. It was a showcase of the finest young CAs in the world and a celebration of their wide-ranging interests and careers.

When confronted with a similar remark in future, I will now be able to return fire with tales of a woman quitting the world of tax to train as a chef and using her CA skills to turn a profit. I will recount stories of a man who drove and facilitated polar research before summiting Everest (rest assured the ascent of the Cheesegrater in smooth glass-elevators offers sumptuous views without the colossal effort) and of CAs who have left the city to change the lives of those living in poverty.

I’ll share insight on how the analytical skills honed throughout the CA education can be applied to almost any field, be that fish trading, stand-up comedy or air travel. But this is not the limit to the usefulness of the Summit.

It is one thing to hear these tales from people up on stage, but it is quite another to discuss them first-hand with the storytellers themselves.

The beauty of the Summit is that the vast majority of speakers are CAs; they started in exactly the same place that you and I did, wading through incomprehensible journals and obscure case law. It provides an instant connection and a platform from which to spring into conversation.

I can think of no better forum to find people who are living what you want to be doing, whatever that may be.

The achievements of these CAs are immense and it can be easy to imagine that these people are simply of a different calibre, but the unifying theme is that they have all completed their ICAS exams and, at some point, made the move away from traditional professional services employment. They have a road map from qualification to an immense variety of opportunities and all share one quality in particular: they all have a desire to constantly improve themselves.

The most commonly cited example is surrounding yourself with ambitious people and mentors who are already achieving what you want to achieve. In this regard, I can think of no better forum to find people who are not only doing what you want to be doing (whatever that may be), but who are also falling over themselves to share their insights and help you grow.

In short, the Summit is an opportunity to spend an afternoon with a view over one of the greatest cities in the world while listening to - and interacting with - ambassadors of your qualification.

It is an opportunity to discover new avenues along which to take your career, to discover the breadth and diversity of the ICAS membership and, perhaps most importantly, to dispel any rumours that accountants are the most boring people in the world.

I hope to see you there next year.

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