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On Monday 4 April, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) held a special gala dinner to honour the contributions of nine individuals who have made South Africa’s Chartered Accountancy (CA[SA]) profession a world leading designation.
A professional body is only as strong as the qualification process that underpins it.
It was with this thought in mind that SAICA set out to celebrate three decades of professional development by acknowledging those who have made significant contributions to SAICA’s local and international recognition and made CA(SA) a world-leading designation.
More than 100 guests, including key members of academia, the SAICA board, as well as the families of those honoured, gathered at Emoyeni in Parktown Johannesburg to recognise the contributions made by the following nine distinguished leaders in the course of their careers to develop, refine and elevate the profession’s education and training processes: Greg Beech, Graeme Berry, Patrick Dickson, Steven McGregor, JJ Njeke, Professor Lumkile Wiseman Nkulu, Professor Jeff Rowlands, Professor Margret Steele and Professor Lucas van Vuuren.
SAICA honours 30 years of professional excellence
Looking back over the past 30 years, SAICA said the work of those nine individuals stood out as the most significant contributions made to the development of the chartered accounting profession. The specific reasons for the awards were as follows:
- Greg Beech for the work he has done to elevate the standard of SAICA’s second professional qualifying examination (the APC) and the move towards examinations that measure the professional competence of the candidates who are about to enter the CA profession. It was as the Chairman of the examination committee that Beech helped SAICA merge the two QE2 examinations into one and implement electronic writing and marking systems for the new assessment.
- Graeme Berry for leading the profession in making significant changes to SAICA’s first professional qualifying examination (the ITC), but specifically in setting the standards of technical examination and making a number of significant changes to the ITC exam over the last 10 years – including the introduction of reading time and a central marking centre.
- Patrick Dickson for his extensive involvement in developing the profession’s highly regarded examination model.
- Steven McGregor for his contribution to the development of international education and training standards for the global accounting profession (IFAC) and for ensuring the smooth transition when CA(SA) training moved to SAICA in 1999.
- JJ Njeke for being an instrumental part of the team dedicated to the ground-breaking research report that outlined the Future of Accounting Education and Training in South Africa (FAESA). This report set the framework for the inclusion of the country’s Historically Disadvantaged Institutions in the profession.
- Professor Lumkile Wiseman Nkuhlu, the first black CA(SA) and a man who dedicated his life to the purpose of paving the way for the transformation of the CA profession. Many African CAs in leadership positions are CAs today because of Professor Nkuhlu.
- Emeritus Professor Jeff Rowlands for developing the prequalifying education and training foundation principles for aspiring CAs(SA) at universities as well as for his assistance in developing SAICA’s reciprocity guidelines, which govern the work the institute does in the rest of Africa. Professor Rowlands also assisted IRBA with developing and implementing their recognition principles and played a significant role in developing the accreditation system required for higher education institutions as well as assisting with monitoring visits.
- Professor Margaret Steele, the first woman to lead a School of Accountancy in SA’s Higher Education Sector and for her ground-breaking work in introducing the accounting profession’s tiers as well as introducing the training outside of public practice (TOPP) model that remains in place today.
- Professor Lucas Van Vuuren for his proven track record and life-long commitment to accounting education and the profession.
In a heartfelt speech, Chantyl Mulder, Senior Executive of SAICA’s Nation Building department, underlined the reason the guests had gathered that evening:
‘The goal of accounting education and training is to produce competent professional accountants who make a positive contribution to the profession and society in which they work. In the face of the increasing challenges the economy encounters, it is imperative aspiring CAs(SA) are taught a foundation of knowledge, skills and professional values during their tertiary studies and training journey to prepare them fully for their careers.
‘SAICA has long been recognised as one of the leading accounting professional bodies in the world. This is no mean feat, and is a direct result of the internationally-recognised excellence in the education, training and assessment programmes that underpin the CA(SA) designation as a top-tier professional qualification. That designation would mean nothing if it were not for the nine individuals we honour here tonight. It has been a privilege to work with each of them over my 30 years in the profession.’
This sentiment was echoed by SAICA CEO, Dr Terence Nombembe:
‘As the people directly involved in laying the foundation for the kind of profession we have today, we dedicate tonight to celebrating your tireless efforts and thanking you for the time you have invested in guiding the profession in the right direction. We also thank your families for their continued support and belief in your work, as well as for the being so generous about the time you sacrificed to work on these projects.’
Mulder added: ‘We simply could not be where we are if it were not for these members of the profession. As we continue our endeavours to take the designation of CA(SA) to new heights and to deliver CAs who are leaders in business, we felt it was crucial that we take the time to acknowledge and honour those individuals who have played a significant role over the years in the development and implementation of key initiatives and changes related to the professional development of CAs(SA). They are leaving what we have today as a legacy of excellence and achievement that will live on forever.’