She has been given the accountancy profession’s greatest accolade – only the third woman to receive it – for her contribution to the profession during a career that has spanned 40 years.
Dame Mary has been a pioneer in the profession. In 1985, she became the first female audit partner at Price Waterhouse (a predecessor firm of PwC) and the first female head of the firm’s global reporting group.
A firm believer in the importance of accounting standards, she was the force behind the campaign for truly global standards in the 1990s which paved the way for the introduction of mandatory IFRS in the European Union in 2005. She also worked closely with the World Bank, IOSCO, the OECD and investor groups under the banner of the International Forum on Accountancy Development which she helped to found, to promote good corporate governance and the use of IFRS in emerging economies.
She left PwC in 2004 to join the Treasury as managing director for government financial management. She has been credited with transforming accountancy throughout Whitehall during her time there.
“I have had a great deal of fun throughout my career,” she said. “It has been a privilege to work in such an interesting and challenging field – and in such a period of change in business and finance internationally.” The award was, she added, “the icing on the cake”.
Chairman of the award panel and former fellow PwC partner Peter Wyman said that Dame Mary had had a profound impact on the profession “with her huge intellect and a deep understanding of the global financial system”.
“I commend and admire her commitment to moving accounting and capital markets forward through building better professional standards and international institutions.
“She mentored hundreds of professionals at PwC and the Treasury, who are a lasting legacy to her great accomplishments.”
Dame Mary will receive her award at the ICAEW annual dinner on 4 March.
In 2007 small business guru Teresa Graham (another Price Waterhouse alumna) became the first woman to receive the award – which is given to individual ICAEW members who have “served the community in the broadest sense”.
Commenting on the news that Dame Mary had won, she said, "I am delighted to see another woman receiving this unparalleled accolade from our peers. And I can think of no more worthy a winner, male or female."
Two years later, Frances Done, chairman of the Youth Justice Board, received the award for her “significant commitment over many years to the public sector at national and local level”.
Altogether there have been 35 Outstanding Achievement Award winners.