Donal Nugent, journalist

Caroline McNulty FCCA has been named winner of ACCA’s Global Public Sector Advocacy Awards for 2023. Having recently won the national award for Ireland, Caroline was announced the global winner at ACCA’s Virtual Public Sector Conference in November.

A lecturer in accounting at Atlantic Technological University (ATU), one of Ireland’s largest multi-campus universities, Caroline was praised by judges for her significant contribution to developing the profession, nurturing the next generation of ACCA members, and promoting ACCA’s brand and values.


Caroline always aspired to be a lecturer in accounting and says that the ACCA qualification was a natural fit with her own values, ‘being open to everyone regardless of their background or gender since it was established in 1904’. Joining ATU Sligo (then Sligo RTC) in 1992, she found a learning environment that was ‘similarly inclusive, treating all students equally and empowering a diverse range of students to achieve their goals and succeed’.

‘Following our graduates’ successful careers on LinkedIn is hugely rewarding’

In addition to delivering lectures as part of the BA (Hons) in accounting, Caroline is involved with career fairs and networking events, liaising with professional bodies, and undertaking secondary school visits and class trips. Graduates of the course enter the world of employment set up for success, with maximum exemptions from ACCA and already in high demand among employers. ‘Following our graduates’ successful careers on LinkedIn is hugely rewarding,’ she says.

Caroline uses technology to encourage active learning and improve student engagement levels. In 2023, she received funding to create reusable content in the form of Wiris accounting quizzes to share with other lecturers.

Caroline has been a member of the ACCA Connaught Members Network Panel for nine years, becoming chair in January 2023. In addition to a strong CPD programme, she has put particular emphasis on supporting the ACCA Schools Initiative, describing it as ‘an exceptional opportunity to engage with secondary school students in a lively and fulfilling way, challenge perceptions and encourage them to consider a career in accounting.’

This year’s winners

Watch the video where Caroline McNulty shares what the award means to her.

The other country winners for members in the public sector are:

  • China: Relinda Rui Zhang FCCA, Shouyi Healthcare Group, Beijing
  • Nigeria: Haruna Yarima Abdullahi FCCA, Federal Capital Territory Internal Revenue Service
  • UK: Winifred Sarbah FCCA, NHS, London
  • Canada: Syed Imran Zia FCCA, Fraser Port Authority, Vancouver
  • US: Cheryl Clarke FCCA, United Nations Resident Audit Office, Kuwait
Repeat winner

The award isn’t the first time Caroline’s commitment to empowering the next generation has been recognised. In 2021 she was received a Teaching Hero Award – a student-led accolade issued by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Congratulating Caroline, Anthony Harbinson, one of the judges, chair of ACCA’s public sector forum and a former ACCA president, says: ‘The awards recognise members who give back to ACCA and the profession through active advocacy. Throughout her career Caroline has been an exemplar of ACCA values.

‘A person is not defined by the obstacles they encounter, but by how they respond to them’

‘Her passion for teaching has made a difference for countless students coming from a diversity of backgrounds and helped introduce a new generation to the accounting profession. Caroline leads by example, and in doing so illuminates ACCA’s core values of opportunity, diversity, innovation and integrity.

‘I would also like to congratulate all the regional winners in what was, in the second year of the awards, another remarkably strong showing and an insight into how ACCA members are making a difference across the world.’

Caroline says she is ‘humbled and honoured to be recognised as the ACCA public sector advocate of the year at both Irish and global level’. She adds: ‘Most activities I engage in as an advocate for ACCA are undertaken along with other ACCA members, working together as a team. In that vein, I would like to acknowledge the work and advocacy of my colleagues at ATU Sligo, the Connaught and the Ireland members panels.’

Caroline’s outlook on life reflects a career that has had helping others find the best in themselves at its heart: ‘Never give up. There is always an alternative route to achieve your goals. A person is not defined by the obstacles they encounter, but by how they respond to them.’