A student and a recently-qualified member share their experiences of pursuing the ACA in their home countries.
ICAEW has a strong presence in Cyprus with more than 3,000 members. And, more than 30 years ago, Cyprus became the first country outside the UK where ICAEW trained chartered accountants. ICAEW continues to work closely with the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus and the Cyprus Treasury.
Greece is also a strong focus for ICAEW, having partnered with the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Greece to form the Accredited Membership Programme. This means students can study Greek tax and law, and qualify as chartered accountants and members of both bodies.
“In Cyprus, having the ACA qualification will give you a huge plus when it comes to finding employment,” says Polina Donchuk, who has just started studying for the ACA in Cyprus with EY. She graduated with a degree in Accounting and Finance at the University in Cyprus in 2022.
“In fact, it gives you flexibility to work in many different places. The ACA is globally recognised. Many of my fellow students at university wanted to pursue the ACA qualification and we all found placements very quickly – companies were waiting for us to graduate,” she adds.
Charis Konstantinopoulou, audit manager at KPMG Greece, became an ICAEW member in 2022 and describes it as the “happiest day” of her life. “ICAEW is well respected in Greece and a globally recognised brand around the world,” she says. “The ACA qualification provides a solid foundation in the profession; and as an ICAEW member you represent knowledge, experience, trust, competency, ethics, integrity and professionalism.”
Polina makes the most of her study leave, attending college full-time and taking mock exams. She then receives feedback from her tutor, followed by more time at college and the final exam. It’s all supported by her wider network, too.
“A lot of people I know from my university course and colleagues are either studying as well or already qualified,” she says. “So, whenever I have a question about anything – what the classes are like, how to best approach the exam, for example – there are so many people that can help answer. I am part of an informal community with lots of support.”
This ICAEW community is important beyond passing exams. “Now that I’ve qualified, I feel well integrated with ICAEW,” Charis says. “In particular, if I have a question, I know that I can visit the ICAEW website and find relevant information and support. The resources cover different geographies, areas of accountancy, industries and markets.”
ICAEW’s social media accounts also provide support to students in Cyprus and Greece. “I keep up to date on the events being organised, and there are a lot of events happening in Cyprus,” Polina says. “There are so many people that are a part of ICAEW and studying for the ACA qualification that you feel you are part of one big community.”
Charis is also president of the Greece chartered accountants student society and has been involved since its formation in 2020. “We have set up social media accounts and we are building a strong network for all students here in Greece. Each year, more and more people join. We organise events to meet new students, strengthen existing relationships, and share ideas about the profession in general,” she says.
The society assists students with questions about exams and careers, as well as offering students opportunities to meet and socialise with each other. “It builds students’ self-confidence as well as their network,” Charis adds.
Charis found pursuing the ACA challenging, particularly in the beginning, but felt that study leave was useful in building her professional skills. “Coming back to work after studying, I had substantially improved my time management skills, could identify what was important to clients, what standards were relevant and what risks needed consideration. It all enhanced my critical thinking skills,” she adds.
Polina is focused on passing her exams but believes the qualification will help her become more well-rounded. “I want to become a better person myself, but the big goal is to bring a change to the world,” she says. “And it doesn’t have to be a big, tremendous change. It just has to be something that makes an impact in some way, maybe helping businesses make better decisions.”
Charis has seen similar changes since the beginning of her career. “I feel more prepared, more confident and more trusted by my clients and colleagues. The ACA qualification is the ticket for me to fulfil all my professional goals. I have the competencies, skills and confidence to succeed as a chartered accountant,” she says.
And, importantly, being a chartered accountant means having a rewarding career wherever you are based. “You don’t do the same thing every day. You are never bored. You are constantly learning and developing,” Polina explains. “Wherever in the world you go, you can say you have the ACA qualification and everyone will understand what it means – that you have knowledge, skills, and you are a professional in your field.”
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