Orla Collins, ACCA president

I would like to start my first column as ACCA president simply by saying hello, and by sharing my excitement at taking on this incredible honour. It’s the greatest privilege of my life, and I am so happy to get started.

I could never have imagined as a teenager in Dublin - working in a bank by day and studying for my technician’s exams in the evenings – where my journey in finance would take me.

ACCA is more than a certificate to hang on a wall – membership is a journey not a destination

I could never have imagined that it would lead to so many fascinating opportunities, and the chance to meet so many incredible people. I could never have done a fraction of it without all the support I have had from my friends and colleagues in ACCA. To find myself here today, as president of the world’s leading professional accountancy body, is a strange though wonderful sensation.

Opportunity for all

There are a few themes I’m really keen to focus on in the year that I’m wearing the president’s medal.

A big one is about opportunity for all, about helping people reach their full potential – remembering that ACCA is more than a certificate to hang on a wall, that membership is a journey not a destination. I will share the message that ACCA is all about giving back where you can, about sharing your knowledge and experience to help others reach their full potential. Because no one succeeds all on their own. I know that anything I have achieved is thanks to the support of so many mentors and, above all, my mum and dad, who gave up so much to get me started in my career.

We are a working-class family with no history in professional life. None of our family had ever been doctors, lawyers or anything of the sort. But their love and sacrifice made it possible for me to pursue the chance of an education that they never had. I’m so glad my mother is still here to share this honour with me. We lost Dad earlier this year, but I know he would have been bursting with pride just now.

We are all a part of the ACCA family – no one needs to face any challenge or seek any fresh opportunity on their own

An ACCA for everyone

I also want the world to know that ACCA is there for everyone, at whatever stage of their career. New student, affiliate, young professional, those in a small practice or with one of the Big Four, accounts clerks, auditors, entrepreneurs, CFOs or CEOs. It doesn’t matter. We are all a part of the all-embracing ACCA family, and no one needs to face any challenge or seek any fresh opportunity on their own.

ACCA is always there at their side, at every step of the journey, in life and at work, in times good and bad. That’s the essence of ACCA.

Finally, I must end with sincere thanks to my predecessor, Mark Millar, for all he did in his year as president. His calm presence, immense wisdom and good humour were priceless assets in a difficult year, and it was a delight to serve as his deputy. Thanks so much, Mark.