ICAEW picks London trainee among One Young World ambassadors
Alec James, a London trainee chartered accountant, was one of five ICAEW representatives at the recent the global forum for young leaders held in the capital for the first time since 2010.
Imagine 2000 driven and capable young leaders from over 190 countries, all coming together in one place for the sole purpose of being inspired and equipped to take action on the most pressing issues facing our planet. No event has gathered a more diverse group of young people to London since the 2012 Olympics. Imagine these young people are given the opportunity to hear from incredible speakers, including Sir Richard Branson, Sir Bob Geldof, Jane Goodall, ICAEW CEO Michael Izza and JK Rowling, and to hear from other young people who are already changing the world. Imagine this, and you will start to get an idea of why One Young World is so important.
I was given the opportunity to represent Buzzacott, the ICAEW and Chartered Accountants Worldwide at this year’s summit in London. The word lifechanging is used often but in my case, I use it wholeheartedly. I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I have tried to summarise just some of what I have learned from the week below.
- Business as usual is not an option
I was struck over the course of the conference by the urgency of some of the problems we face. As I type this, and as you read it, there are 734 million people in extreme poverty. On July 29th this year, we had already used the amount of resources that earth could naturally replenish in a year. We need action and fast, and together to solve our planet’s most pressing issues.
- We need to do something
We heard from former Prime Minister John Major during the week, who said “Never be in doubt that the rich have an obligation to do something about poverty.” If you’re reading this and have over $10,000 to your name – you are in the richest 30% of people in the world, and you have capacity and resource to do something about our shared challenges. “Changing the world” is not for do-gooders or a unique, gifted group of people. It is a responsibility and obligation for us all.
- You don’t need to wait to be old enough to lead.
I was challenged and inspired by hearing stories of fellow delegates my age who have experienced awful realities, slavery, war and torture, and have given their lives to ensure that the same thing does not happen to others. These young people are an example and challenge to us all. Whether inside of work - be it lobbying our employer for more ethical supply chain policies or making our offices more inclusive, or outside of work – volunteering, or even setting up your own social enterprise, we all can act. We just need to do it.
- Accountancy is an exciting string to your bow.
I was fortunate enough to spend the week with 18 amazing young accountants also representing Chartered Accountants Worldwide. Same profession, all of them with a desire to change the world, and have a great time doing it! Our skills are practical, relevant to every business, and vital if we are to bring about the change we want to see.
- What next?
We are all responsible for the challenges we collectively face, One Young World is not a talking shop. I have already committed to vegetarianism to cut down my carbon emissions, and have been thinking about and researching more initiatives to become involved in. I will be thinking long and hard about if there is more I can be doing to contribute, in and outside of work, and I would encourage anyone reading to do the same.
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