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Volunteer story: Matthew Harris

Author: ICAEW

Published: 04 Oct 2022

Matthew Harris is a Board Director at WSX Enterprise. Matthew is also a qualified chartered accountant (FCS) who has over 20 years of financial and management experience.
Headshot of Matthew Harris

My main volunteering role with ICAEW has been as chair of the Reading and Maidenhead Business Breakfasts. Held quarterly, the meetings are open to members working in industry and commerce, and were set up to provide a forum for those not in practice to network and share ideas in an informal and convivial environment. My role was to facilitate the conversations over breakfast, ensuring the topics remained relevant and that everyone had a chance to contribute. I was chair during peak Brexit, so I also had to make sure views were shared in an appropriate way!

The majority of the breakfasts I chaired were in person, but we had to switch to virtual meetings during the pandemic – that brought added responsibility for the quality of the breakfasts! I worked with the local ICAEW team to invite a range of guest speakers, some from Chartered Accountants’ Hall, others from local businesses. Highlights for me over the years were Iain Wright of ICAEW for his insights on industrial strategy and business confidence, Richard Alborough of Savant Recruitment for his employment market updates, and Adrian Smith of the Mortimer Chocolate Company for his free cocoa samples!

It’s a chance to give something back to ICAEW colleagues old and new

Thanks to my role as chair, I was also invited to be the keynote speaker at the ICAEW New Members’ Ceremony in June 2018. That was a real highlight. It came at a difficult time in my career, and it was so energising to be able to take an upbeat slant on being a chartered accountant in front of 100 or so newly qualified members and their families and friends. The feedback to my speech was very positive – although to this day I’m not sure what to make of being told by one audience member that I “did not come across as a typical accountant”!

I’ve had a (mostly) great career as a direct result of being a member of ICAEW, so for me, volunteering offers the chance to give something back to colleagues old and new. Even chairing the Business Breakfasts wasn’t a huge undertaking – with the meetings themselves and a bit of admin and preparation, it only amounted to around three hours a quarter. My advice to anyone considering volunteering with ICAEW would be to just do it! Even just going along to local events and meetings will benefit you and the Institute, so find out what’s going on locally and explore what you can do to contribute. And if you want to take it further, there are plenty of opportunities to really help shape the future of our profession.