Bruce Cartwright CA, ICAS CEO, explains the benefits of getting involved with ICAS' boards and committees
Involvement with your professional body is a two-way street that will strengthen ICAS as an organisation and you as a finance professional, says CEO Bruce Cartwright CA
The first thought of any newly qualified CA will be on building their careers and making their way in the world. And quite rightly so. But even at this early stage, an involvement with ICAS can help newly qualified CAs to sharpen their skills and broaden their perspective on the world of business.
You can do that by either becoming a member of the ICAS Council or through one of our boards and committees that allow you to focus on a particular specialism or enthusiasm you wish to pursue, be it sustainability, pensions or one of the many other areas we cover.
These play a crucial role in how ICAS engages with its members, ensuring that what we do reflects your views and interests. Also, crucially, becoming a Council or board member gives you a chance to give back, share your knowledge and help to shape both the present and future of ICAS.
Speaking from experience – I was involved in the Council while a partner at PwC – being within your community and helping to drive your own professional body is hugely rewarding. It provides a wonderful opportunity to learn from other CAs. It is very much a two-way process. As anyone who has been part of the Council or any of our supporting boards or committees will testify, the more you put in, the more you get out.
You also have the chance to meet some fascinating people whom you may not ordinarily encounter. One of the most recent additions to the ICAS Council is Jonny Jacobs CA. As Finance Director EMEA for Starbucks, he can share his unique experiences around business situations and ideas. He has also been at the forefront of talking about mental health in finance.
Our boards and committees have become increasingly diverse groups, not only in terms of each individual’s job role outside of ICAS, but also in terms of demography. What we are finding is that the make-up of our membership is changing – and for the better. Through our work with the ICAS Foundation, we maintain a strong focus on social mobility, looking, with bursaries and mentoring, to boost access to finance-related degrees for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The more diverse our membership, the stronger we are as a body.
But beyond the boards, committees and the Council, there is an extraordinary wealth of knowledge and experience at every CA’s disposal. This month we welcome our new intake of ICAS students. When you become a qualified CA, people understand that you have not only worked hard to get this badge, but more importantly that you’re a professional person who will do the right thing and will act ethically.
It’s great that when you graduate, you’re joining this club, but it comes with obligations. And we’re only as good as each other. So I would advise our new crop of students to seek out senior CAs for advice, whether informally or via our Career Connections mentoring platform. We know people are fascinated by hearing or reading about other people’s careers. You will often find that senior CAs have achieved things both professionally and personally that will seem amazing, yet they will typically relate their story in a very understated way.
If you ask how they made the jump from one job to another, or progressed within an organisation, moving from the finance team to the C-suite, some will be taken aback because they have never really thought about it. But there will have been moments where they came to a fork in the road and made a particular life-changing decision.
Some will tell you they just happened to be in the right place at the right time – but I don’t buy that for a minute! I believe you make your own luck. When a chance comes in front of you, you decide whether to grab it or just let it pass you by. And talking to people who have been down that path themselves will help you to recognise an opportunity when it presents itself.
The view from the boardroom
Katherine Ritchie CA, Members Board, Joined 2018
I originally joined Members Board to increase the representation of London and under-35s, as well as to represent members who aren’t directly working in finance or accounting. It’s also an opportunity to work with a diverse range of people including fellow members and also ICAS staff.
Members Board has helped with my move to the US. ICAS associates have been super supportive, connecting me to the local network in New York and board members have kindly made introductions to people over here. There is a real sense of being part of a team – we understand when each other are busy with jobs or personal life and step in to support as needed.
My advice to people joining would be to be open-minded, curious and to embrace meeting a great mix of people. Our jobs and locations can change a lot, but through these changes ICAS remains a constant. Don’t underestimate the power of the ICAS network and how in return you can have a positive impact on the institute.
Michael Kay CA, Members Board Chair, Joined 2020
I originally joined the ICAS Council a couple of years ago because I wanted to have a voice and to effect change. Since joining, I’ve gained a far greater appreciation of the significant progress ICAS is making in general, most notably around EDI and mental fitness.
These are both particularly crucial areas in modern business, so having the opportunity to influence and shape the future direction of ICAS policy in these fields has been a definite plus of my involvement.
It has also given me the opportunity to develop networks with my fellow CAs in different locations.
My advice to other CAs who are thinking of becoming involved in the Council or any of the boards and committees is to join us. Share your perspective and your experience, whether that’s several decades or just a matter of months. We want to hear as many voices as possible to help shape the future of ICAS and to make it a truly diverse and global member organisation.