Young Leaders Think Tank: “CA is a passport to business”


By Lisa Blum CA

The inaugural Chartered Accountants Worldwide Global Young Leaders Think Tank has paved the way for a shared vision for the future of the accountancy profession. Lisa Blum CA shares her experience of attending this inspiring event.

I was delighted to get the call in December to be ICAS’ representative at CAW’s Think Tank in Dublin. I left the day full of ideas, new connections and an increased appreciation for the profession.

I joined young leaders from six accounting institutes to discuss our perspectives of the profession, ways to enhance attractiveness and training and membership value. What really struck me on the day was the diverse array of roles and industries represented at the think tank, really showcasing the limitless opportunities the CA qualification brings.

The findings and perspectives gathered at the Think Tank will be summarised in a CAW white paper analysing key trends. This white paper will be circulated to each institute in its global network to inform their own strategies.

To kick off the day we had an introduction from Sinead Donovan, the president of Chartered Accountants Ireland, as well as Ainslie van Onselen about the background and mission of CAW. It was fantastic to hear Sinead Donovan really focusing on championing the next generation of CAs and with that our future leaders.

We started the Think Tank focusing on attracting the next generation. This was a very insightful session discussing roadblocks such as awareness of the profession and at what stage in a young person’s life engagement should start. We also discussed other roadblocks such as cost, exams effort or myths like it being all about numbers. We all agreed on one point though – being a CA is a passport to business, allowing you to create the career you want in whatever industry you want to work in. The opportunities are endless!

Next, we moved on to training and lifelong skills – something that is a key pillar of being a CA. We agreed it is vital for institutes to stay ahead of the curve with their syllabus, especially around topics like sustainability and technology. Teachers should have the opportunity to adapt more simulated learning to really focus on students practising their skills and knowledge.

Lastly, we discussed the value of the membership for us. As most CAs would agree, the status and reputation that comes with the designation is incredibly valuable, as is the access to continuous CPD and member networks. Sinead Donovan often speaks about the family of accountants, and this truly came to life during the day.

In addition to discussing the topics themselves it was incredibly valuable to hear from CAs in different locations about their perception of the profession and the various issues they face. One aspect that was very valuable to me being based in Scotland is that becoming a CA was free. As someone that is the first member of their family to attend university, it would have been impossible for me to get where I am today without free education.

After a morning of very insightful discussions around the future of the profession it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for Chartered Accountants Ireland’s annual dinner, held at the convention centre in Dublin: An absolutely incredible evening where the Institute hosted around 700 people to come together and celebrate the profession. We heard from Sinead Donovan, who continued the theme of championing the next generation, as well as from Institute Chief Executive Barry Dempsey and Ireland’s minister of Finance Michael McGrath. This was followed by a fireside discussion with Irish Rugby Legend Johnny Sexton and award-winning businesswoman and social entrepreneur Sonya Lennon.

It was definitely a day to remember. And I’d like to say a massive thank you to CAW for organising such a thought-provoking event. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been presented with thanks to being a CA and I can’t thank ICAS enough for choosing me to represent Scotland. I’m excited to see what’s next in my journey!

This article was first published by ICAS at the following link: