Three months in and I’ve noticed that what most people want to know is what exactly does the ICAEW president do? Rather a lot, as you will be aware if you have been following me on Twitter or reading my weekly blog – these are both recent innovations to help lift the lid on the presidential diary. Presidents don’t set strategy: rather, we are ambassadors for ICAEW, spreading the word about the Institute and the value of our qualifications, and meeting as many people as possible, both members and non-members, in the UK and overseas.
As soon as the excitement of my inauguration was over, the focus was on the council conference in July. This highlight of the presidential calendar is always a positive and forward-thinking experience. In particular, I was pleased how supportive Council was of moves to progress our CFAB qualification and the new business finance professional designation. Our learning and professional development team is constantly investing in researching and developing the qualification to respond to the changing needs of employers, and is currently talking to a number of universities about incorporating CFAB into a range of non-accounting degrees.
Another highlight was my visit to Cyprus – one of our real growth areas – where we have over 2,000 members and 700 students. I was giving the keynote speech at the University of Cyprus Business School’s awards ceremony and presenting prizes to some of our international prize winners. The event was conducted in Greek, which meant I hadn’t much of a clue what was going on but it was good to see the students’ enthusiasm and to hear how much the dean values the ICAEW qualification.
While I was in Cyprus, I had lunch with some of our new Pathways members, all of them top quality professionals at the height of their game. Pathways has faced criticism from members in the past about being a backdoor route to membership but I can tell you that any member would be as pleased and proud as I was to welcome these people as fellow ICAEW members.
After the first flurry of activity, the presidential diary quietens down during August and September. So I thought I would take advantage of the lull to arrange some international visits. By the time you read this column, I will have been to Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia and will be shortly heading to the US for five days and then to Saudi Arabia. I am there to meet overseas members and to find out what else ICAEW should be doing for them. And I am really looking forward to it.