ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

ICAEW announces Board level executive appointments and changes to leadership team

Author: ICAEW

Published: 01 Apr 2021

Chartered accountancy body ICAEW has made two Board-level executive appointments and announced further changes to its senior leadership team, effective from 1 April 2021.

Sharron Gunn has been appointed Chief Operating Officer (COO) and will be responsible for the overall operational efficiency of the organisation. She will oversee the majority of functions supporting ICAEW’s students and members including Learning and Development, Technical Strategy, Commercial, Digital, Brand and Marketing. Sharron is currently ICAEW Executive Director for Members, Commercial and Shared Services. She joined ICAEW in 2001 from J Sainsbury's plc.

Dabinder Hutchinson becomes ICAEW’s first Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and will be responsible for the Finance, IT, Property and Central Operations teams. Dabinder joined ICAEW last year as Director of Finance and Operations from the renewable energy sector.

The new appointments, which report to Chief Executive (CEO) Michael Izza, come as ICAEW re-aligns its management structure around a new 10-year strategy with its vision of a world of sustainable economies enabled by ICAEW Chartered Accountants.

From 1 April 2021, the CEO, COO and CFO roles will form the executive representation on the main ICAEW Board. Robert Hodgkinson, Executive Director for Technical Strategy, will take on a new role as Senior Strategic Advisor, reporting to the CEO. He remains a member of ICAEW’s senior leadership team alongside Duncan Wiggetts, Chief Officer, Professional Standards. Vernon Soare, ICAEW’s current COO, and Mark Protherough, Executive Director for Learning and Professional Development, both leave the organisation this month with ICAEW’s best wishes.

ICAEW Chief Executive, Michael Izza said:

“Following a rigorous selection process involving ICAEW Council and Board members, I am delighted to announce the appointments of Sharron and Dabinder as our new Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer, respectively. Sharron and Dabinder have already achieved a great deal in their time at ICAEW and both have a deep understanding of the vital role our members play in supporting businesses and economies around the world. I congratulate them on their appointments and look forward to working with them to drive forward our new strategy. 

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Vernon Soare and Mark Protherough for their outstanding service and commitment as they move on from ICAEW, and I wish them well for the future.”

Sharron Gunn commented:

“I’m proud to take on the role of Chief Operating Officer and look forward to working with colleagues, students and members to navigate the challenges and opportunities facing the accountancy profession in the lead-up to ICAEW’s 150th anniversary in 2030. ICAEW Chartered Accountants will be at the forefront of ensuring a sustainable economic recovery post-COVID, while climate change and new technologies will continue to have far-reaching implications for our organisation, members and wider society.”

Dabinder Hutchinson added:

“I’m honoured to be joining the ICAEW Board as the Institute’s Chief Financial Officer. The CFO is a critical role within any organisation and I will continue to add value and challenge the business to achieve its strategy. Finance, IT and Property are huge areas of focus for ICAEW over the next decade and creating efficiencies and timely investments in these areas, while keeping an eye on the future, is vital.”

In a further change to the senior leadership team, ICAEW has also created four Managing Directors (MD). These are internal appointments and will report to the new COO, Sharron Gunn.

  1. David Franklin - MD, Belonging and Supporting 
    David will be responsible for leading, developing and delivering ICAEW’s strategy supporting its members and growing commercial activities. He is currently Director for ICAEW Communities.
  2. Hazel Garvey - MD, Education and Training
    Hazel will be responsible for leading, developing and delivering ICAEW’s education and training strategy. She is currently Business Development Director for Learning and Professional Development.
  3. Iain Wright - MD, Reputation and Influence
    Iain will be responsible for ensuring that ICAEW leverages its world-class technical and policy expertise. He is currently Director for Business and Industrial Strategy.
  4. Mark Billington - MD, International
    Mark will be responsible for leading ICAEW’s activities outside the UK to grow student numbers, encourage member engagement and develop the international capacity building programme. He is currently Regional Director, Greater China and South East Asia, based in Singapore.


Notes to editors:

1. A full list of ICAEW Board members can be found here

2. Biographies

Sharron Gunn
Sharron is currently ICAEW Executive Director for Members, Commercial and Shared Services (MCSS). She joined ICAEW in 2001 as Head of Technical Service and Product Development before being promoted to Director, Member Services in 2006 and to Executive Director in 2012. Sharron qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1989. After leaving practice, she worked as a financial accountant for Wates City plc before joining J Sainsbury's plc in 1993, where she held a variety of roles. Over the past 20 years, Sharron has driven a wide range of new member support services and commercial activities, such as the transformation of our member facilities at Chartered Accountants’ Hall.

Dabinder Hutchinson
Dabinder is currently ICAEW Director for Finance and Operations. Since joining ICAEW in 2020, she has successfully led a comprehensive review and restructure of our Finance and Central Operations functions, changing processes and ways of working across the business. Dabinder qualified as a Chartered Accountant while working for PwC. She has held several FD / CFO positions in her career, latterly with an independent power producer in the renewable energy sector. Her career choices have enabled her to gain an in-depth understanding of how businesses operate and how to create efficiency and drive strategy. She has taken a start-up company to a market listing, as well as raised funding for companies to enable growth.

David Franklin
David is currently Director for ICAEW Communities. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant at PwC where he worked in audit before specialising in business valuations. He joined ICAEW in 2015 where he has focused on both members and commercial activity. David is also on the Board of National Prison Radio and is a Business Mentor at the Prince’s Trust.

Hazel Garvey
Hazel is currently Business Development Director for Learning and Professional Development. She is passionate about her qualification: she trained as an ACA at a medium-sized firm after leaving school and qualified in 1989. She joined ICAEW in 1993 and has held varied roles across the organisation - firstly, within Professional Standards’ Joint Monitoring Unit (now QAD), before becoming PSD’s Head of Business Support and later LPD’s Head of UK Practice.

Iain Wright 
Iain is currently Director for Business and Industrial Strategy. He trained as a Chartered Accountant at Deloitte and Touche, before being elected as the MP for Hartlepool in 2004. Iain went on to serve as a Minister in both the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Later, he became Chair of Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, where he led high profile inquiries into the sale of BHS and working practices at Sports Direct. Iain joined ICAEW in 2018. He achieved an MBA with Distinction from Durham University in 2019. Iain is also a Governor of Middlesbrough College and chairs the policy forum of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Mark Billington 
Mark is currently Regional Director, Greater China and South East Asia. He has led all ICAEW activities across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since 2009, building our brand, reputation and influence in the region. Mark qualified as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant in 1990, before working in a variety of industry verticals in the Telecoms sector for multi-national, national and start-up companies. He went on to hold varied roles in British Telecom plc, including responsibility for their strategic investments in France. Mark moved to Singapore in 2003 to take on the role of CEO at O2 (Asia Pacific and Middle East), where he was responsible for the creation of a premium brand in Asia and dealing with their multi-million supply chain into Greater China. Prior to this, Mark was the COO and Senior Vice President for O2 (Netherlands).


There are more than 1.8m chartered accountants and students around the world and 186,500 of them are members and students of ICAEW. They are talented, ethical and committed professionals, which is why all of the top 100 Global Brands employ chartered accountants.

ICAEW promotes inclusivity, diversity and fairness. We attract talented individuals into the profession and give them the skills and values they need to build resilient businesses, economies and societies, while ensuring our planet’s resources are managed sustainably.

Founded in 1880, we have a long history of serving the public interest and we continue to work with governments, regulators and business leaders around the world. And, as an improvement regulator, we supervise and monitor over 12,000 firms, holding them, and all ICAEW members and students, to the highest standards of professional competency and conduct.
ICAEW is proud to be part of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, a global network of 750,000 members across 190 countries, which promotes the expertise and skills of chartered accountants on a global basis.

We believe that chartered accountancy can be a force for positive change. By sharing our insight, expertise and understanding we can help to create strong economies and a sustainable future for all.

*Source: CAW, 2020 – Interbrand, Best Global Brands 2019

Media enquiries

Please direct all media inquiries related to this article to Tom Mackintosh.