Area Networks: Plugged in
ICAS thrives on the voices of its Members and Students. Five Area Network leads reveal how a refreshed approach to outreach is strengthening the two-way relationship.
Wherever you are in the world, an ICAS community is nearby. Five area networks in the UK and 24 international communities ensure that you’re never too far from another CA. In addition to providing networking opportunities and exclusive events, area networks are a key form of communication between CAs and ICAS, sharing ICAS strategy with members and, reciprocally, Member feedback with ICAS.
Area Networks are an important way to make your voice heard and shape the future of ICAS. The five networks covering the UK form the bridge between CAs, Members Board and Council, helping to improve the ICAS experience for all 23,000 Members and 4,000 Students. The mission is fourfold: connecting with Members and Students, communicating key ICAS initiatives, providing that all-important feedback and identifying talent for boards and committees.
One of the latest innovations is rethinking the roles that make up each Area Network to ensure that as wide a variety of Members as possible are covered by their activities. This has included the appointment of designated leads when it comes to key membership groups (such as students and the under-35s) and communication channels (social media). Each role comes with clear responsibilities and targets, ensuring that progress is measurable.
To learn more about this refreshed approach, and the value of getting more involved with your local ICAS community, we meet five Area Network Members, each with their own area of specialism.
Aneela Mather-Khan CA, Under-35s Lead, London
I got involved with the London Area Network as I wanted to see what ICAS membership entailed, how our fees are used and to help others feel engaged. As Under-35s Lead, I aim to improve satisfaction of younger Members and ensure their views are represented. Beyond that, we need to make sure our activities match their needs and wants – whether that’s the relevance of our content and communication or help for people trying to take the next career step.
We recently set targets to ensure we are an effective link between ICAS and members and shape its strategic direction. Area Networks are a great place to get more engaged. I’m proud to be a CA and I want ICAS to be more widely recognised as a leading voice in business.
London Area Network is chaired by Jason Harvie CA, email@example.com.
Gemma Palombo CA, Student Lead, Highlands
I joined the Highland Area Network to connect with other CAs. The way we engage has changed significantly over the years, especially now social media is the norm. ICAS has to identify how best to communicate with Students – particularly those in smaller firms. Historically, network events were targeted to Members, but we want Students to know about them too. We’re currently working on four key projects: identifying key channels of communication; identifying activities to increase support to Students; developing an understanding of Students’ engagement experiences; and increasing ICAS brand awareness.
The Highlands has a lot of small firms and CAs here can feel isolated. Covid permitting, area networks hold both social and informative events, such as tax updates, all year round. Some count towards CPD; others are social. We’re all friendly and always keen to see new faces.
Highlands Area Network is chaired by John Todd CA, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ross McAdam CA, Social Media Lead, Glasgow & West
I was asked to speak at an event organised by the Glasgow and West Area Network, after which I wanted to learn more. My engagement with ICAS was not as strong as it might have been and I was aware that I was missing out on a huge range of opportunities.
Ours is a digital world and social media plays a big role. I’ve attended courses to see how platforms such as LinkedIn work and the power they have to increase reach. I’m constantly learning new skills. I want to increase engagement across all platforms and I like to add my own thoughts as conversation kickstarters. The range of experience in ICAS’ membership is unrivalled and CAs can expand their horizons, whether that’s their network, global opportunities, access to training and resources or – an important one to me – the CA Wellbeing programme. I’d encourage everyone to get involved, whatever their interests.
Glasgow & West Area Network is chaired by Craig Maxwell CA, email@example.com
Lucas Aleaxander-Crichton CA, Prospective Student Lead, Grampian
I got involved with Grampian Area Network after being recognised as one of the top 100 Young CAs last year. Prospective Students are a key focus for ICAS as we continue to regenerate our network. It is vital that we take feedback onboard from potential Students.
We need to know what concerns and hopes students have for life after qualification.
Our goal is to develop a pipeline of school leavers and current students and to continue engagement through to membership. In the past, this was done via university careers events. During the pandemic, we’ve taken the chance for a rethink, to see how we can interact with students virtually. Area networks offer CAs access to a fantastic group of like-minded local individuals – which was a great boost to many during the long months of lockdown.
Grampian Area Network is chaired by Elizabeth Gammie CA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Mallon CA, Professional Development Lead, Lothian & Borders
I became involved in the Lothian and Borders Area Network for two reasons: first, I only moved to Edinburgh in 2019, following a year of overseas travel, and wanted to build a professional network. Second, because I also wanted to give something back to ICAS, and be more involved in how it looks now and in the future. I joined late last year and have taken on the dual roles of Professional Development and Career Break Leads. The first is very important to me, and all CAs, and the second is one that I have experience of.
The pandemic has been difficult, but we now have a full diary of events to look forward to. From webinars, networking events or engaging as a mentor or mentee, we want to hear from you. The PD leads are supporting ICAS in developing the career mentoring strategy and testing a potential new member learning tool.
Lothian & Borders Area Network is chaired by Colin Young CA, email@example.com