Sally Percy, journalist

Taiye Adedeji FCCA is a passionate advocate of ACCA. For more than five years, she has consistently and enthusiastically championed her professional body in her home country of Nigeria because of what she believes ACCA can offer to people who want to pursue a career in public-sector finance.

In 2022, in recognition of her work, she was named global winner of ACCA’s Public Sector Advocate of the Year Award.

‘I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for ACCA,’ she explains. ‘ACCA has helped me with my career, and it has helped me academically.’ For example, she has just completed her MSc in professional accountancy from the University of London without even having to go to the UK – something that would not have been possible without ACCA.

‘A change in accounting methods created a significant opportunity to involve ACCA in my organisation’

Record of advocacy

As principal finance and accounts officer at Lagos State Treasury, Adedeji’s day-to-day job involves helping to monitor the state’s revenue and expenditure, enabling it to keep to budget. She provides essential reporting, explores potential investment opportunities, and ensures that salaries are paid on time and loan repayments met.

Adedeji has worked for the State Treasury Office since 2012. While there, she opted to study for the ACCA Qualification, initially because it was a global qualification that offered flexibility and directly related to her work. In 2017 – the year that she qualified – she began to actively advocate for ACCA after she realised that its members did not have the same voice in the Lagos State Treasury as those belonging to other professional bodies.

‘We need professional accountants to enter the system to help build on what we already have’

Learning gap

To begin with, Adedeji focused on building a community, by reaching out to other ACCA members within the Lagos State Treasury Office. But then a change in accounting methods created a significant opportunity for her to involve ACCA more closely with her employer.

The Lagos State Treasury Office shifted from cash basis to accrual basis accounting and adopted the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). This created what Adedeji describes as ‘a learning gap that had to be filled’. Accordingly, she connected her office with ACCA, which helped train 700 accountants on an IPSAS certification programme, with around 500 qualifying.

Raising awareness

Another example of Adedeji’s advocacy is that she ran her own ‘bite-size learning programme’ to encourage more ACCA-qualified accountants to join the public sector. During an hour-long webinar, she explained to ACCA members and students from all over Nigeria how cash and finances are managed by the Lagos State Government. ‘It was an awareness programme,’ she explains. ‘We need professionals to enter the system to help build on what we already have.’

‘Having ACCA Approved Employer status will help my department compete for talent’

In 2021, Adedeji played an instrumental role in securing ACCA Approved Employer status for the Lagos State Treasury Office. A year later, she helped the Lagos State Auditor General’s Office to achieve the same status. She believes that having the status will help her department to compete more effectively for talent, while enabling its existing ACCA-qualified professionals to access more resources and training and development.

Creating connections

A further notable advocacy achievement came in 2021 when Adedeji helped to set up an online meeting between ACCA chief executive Helen Brand and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the executive governor of Lagos state, to discuss possible partnerships. ‘Babajide Sanwo-Olu is the number-one citizen of Lagos state,’ she explains. ‘So, it was nice for him to meet the number-one executive at ACCA.’

The same year, Adedeji supported the delivery of the Lagos state government recognition event, organised by ACCA to commend the government for its outstanding approach to public financial management. At the event, she was personally recognised as ACCA Advocate of the Year 2021 for Nigeria.

‘I wasn’t thinking of awards, I just wanted ACCA to be recognised’

Following that, in 2022, she was named ACCA’s global public sector advocate. ‘It meant a lot,’ she says of the honour.

‘When I started my advocacy, I wasn’t thinking of any awards; I just wanted ACCA to be recognised. I wanted to be included in management decision-making, and I wanted my other professional colleagues to be recognised because of what I know we carry and what we stand for. So, for me, it shows that my advocacy is impactful. It show that I am doing something right.’

Adedeji is particularly keen to encourage more ACCA professionals to join the public sector as well as to encourage students to complete their exams. Her advice to students is this: ‘If you’re doing ACCA, you are going in the right direction. Just make sure you finish your exams.’

She’s also grateful to the ACCA Nigeria team for supporting her in her advocacy efforts. ‘I can’t do this advocacy without them,’ she says. ‘I appreciate what they’re doing and hope that we can keep doing more.’

Wider recognition

It’s not just ACCA that has recognised Adedeji’s achievements. In 2021, she was named as an outstanding officer of the Lagos State Government, an accolade that resulted in her winning a brand-new car. ‘Over the moon’ is unsurprisingly how she felt about receiving that honour.

As well as being a committed finance professional, Adedeji is a mother of five-year-old triplets: two boys and a girl. She admits that balancing work with a busy family life can be challenging at times, but she has a good support system and makes sure that she takes a break when she needs one. ‘I feel blessed to be able to enjoy both a full professional life and my family,’ she says.

Busy though she may be, the good news is that Adedeji has no plans to hang up her advocacy hat any time soon. ‘I’m enjoying it,’ she says. ‘I want to try to connect with more people professionally. And I want other people to benefit from being an ACCA.’

Watch and learn

Hear from other experts working in the public sector at ACCA’s 12th International Public Sector Conference, now available on demand

Read the ACCA/IFAC global guide to professionalisation in public sector finance