I became ACCA president at the end of November 2017. Less than a week later, I was off to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for my first presidential engagement: the ACCA Africa members convention.
If 2017-18 has been a year of celebrating connectivity, I can’t think of any better way to have started. More than 700 ACCA members from 31 countries across Africa convened in Addis Ababa’s prestigious United Nations Conference Centre to discuss topical issues facing the profession – from innovation to leadership, the global economy to regional growth – and, even more importantly, to connect with, and learn from, each other.
It was my honour at this event to unveil our 200,000 Members’ Wall – an impressive canvas spanning 21 metres to accommodate 200,000 ACCA members’ names: the physical manifestation of our global family. It is breathtaking to see our connections made physical. ACCA’s strength lies in our connections, and there are so many opportunities for our global network of members, students, employers, learning providers and other stakeholders to work, and exchange knowledge with, each other.
Connections between countries boost trade, investment, jobs and economic growth. Connections between people facilitate cultural and academic cross-fertilisation, increasing individuals’ mobility and global prospects. And connections between businesses create mutual opportunities.
It is ACCA’s job to be a super-connector: to facilitate these opportunities for our members and stakeholders, working as the conduit that can connect you all. And when I think back on my presidential year, it is the sheer breadth and depth of the connections I have seen, and made, that I remember most.
I remember the enthusiasm of those 700 members, attending the first ever Africa members convention and being the first to sign the 200,000 Members’ Wall.
I remember the following visit to Warsaw, where I met a new member who told me that her younger sister had been inspired by her to study ACCA and who became a member herself last year.
It is ACCA’s job to be a super-connector: to facilitate these opportunities for our members and stakeholders, working as the conduit that can connect you all.
I remember meeting two more pairs of ACCA-qualified sisters in Kazakhstan and in Indonesia: we truly can speak about being a global ‘family’!
I remember speaking to an affiliate in Guangzhou, China who said that the support of the ACCA network – members, other students, and the regular visits from senior staff and Council – had been the inspiration he needed to finish his studies and take up a graduate job.
I remember visits to major employers, associations, governments and other institutions to promote awareness of the ACCA Qualification and ensure that there are high-quality employment opportunities for our members and students – and finding that many of them already saw ACCA as the most forward-looking qualification for the workforce of the future.
'ACCA’s strength lies in our connections, and there are so many opportunities for our global network of members, students, employers, learning providers and other stakeholders to work, and exchange knowledge with, each other.'
I have hundreds of examples of seeing, first-hand, ACCA connecting those with ability with the path towards becoming a professional accountant. And, of course, ACCA did exactly that for me.
It has been a pleasure to spend a year giving back to the organisation that opened so many doors for me throughout my career. And I am so proud to have held this role during such a strong performance year; a year when our overall member and student satisfaction is at a record level. I can certainly attest to the high levels of enthusiasm and dedication of the many thousands of ACCA members I have met around the world. And I can’t wait to see what we can all achieve as we work together to move forward into the future.
There is an old African proverb that I have used often this year in summarising the journey that ACCA, together with all our members and partners, is on.
It says: 'If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.'
I have no doubt that ACCA and our members will continue to go far as we work together to develop the accountancy profession the world needs.
Leo Lee FCCA
Since 1904, ACCA has forged powerful relationships – across countries, sectors, and our varied stakeholders – that have helped build a strong global profession.