In today's competitive business landscape, professionals are constantly seeking opportunities to enhance their skills, expand their networks and contribute to their respective industries. One avenue that offers a multitude of benefits is volunteering for professional bodies and organisations.
ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty stands as an exceptional platform for corporate finance professionals looking to make a meaningful impact while advancing their careers.
Meera Shah is Director of M&A at accountancy firm Buzzacott and has been a board member of ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty for two years.
Why volunteer for an ICAEW faculty?
Shah says her volunteer role has been very beneficial to her career in terms of raising her profile but it’s definitely a two-way street. “Meeting new people in my industry has given me and my team at Buzzacott a lot of insight into current business activity. It has also been great to reciprocate and provide insight from our part of the market into the faculty. It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” she says.
Shah’s role in the faculty involves participation in quarterly board meetings to share views on industry trends. “I give a voice and a view from where my team and I sit in our industry. Ultimately, this is done to keep improving the faculty in the work that it does,” she says.
What do these sessions involve?
The agendas for board meetings typically cover a range of subject areas including policy and government activity, and changes to legislation that could impact the roles of professionals in the corporate finance sector. The National Security and Investment Act 2021 has been a focus for action by the faculty over the past few years, for example.
“The format of the board meeting enabled us to hear about what the government is thinking around the National Security and Investment Act, how it will be set up, how it’s going to impact deal timelines, and everything to do with ongoing deals. Then as things began to unfold, the faculty was constantly feeding its experiences of the changes back into the group,” Shah explains.
“Then there are technical aspects, where we discuss technical guidance being issued and work out how the faculty is dealing with these updates – with the same goal of helping the industry and to guide the faculty members. This could be anything from how to execute private equity transactions or debt deals.”
The final part is around training, where the faculty’s board discusses what qualifications are available within the faculty and the wider ICAEW. “This forum allows members to keep a constant review on the qualifications to make sure they are still relevant and helpful, and see how they can evolve over time,” Shah says.
Networking and collaborating opportunities
Shah says the power of networking with the other volunteers in the faculty, especially swapping notes on how to deal with the current economic environment, is of huge value.
The faculty’s network has international reach and includes member organisations and individuals from major professional services groups, specialist advisory firms, banks and alternative lenders, private equity and venture capital firms, law firms, brokers, consultants, policy-makers and academic experts. More than 40% of the faculty’s membership is from outside of ICAEW’s membership.
“During an uncertain transacting environment, just hearing those different points of view from investors and advisors serving different parts of the market has been really beneficial,” Shah says.
What is your experience of volunteering with ICAEW?
Shah loves volunteering and believes there is an ICAEW voluntary role out there for everybody, whether formally or informally, frequently or as a one-off.
“People sometimes think it’s going to be a massive time commitment, so they won’t do it. I just think we all can volunteer in some way, shape or form. Even though mine is on a quarterly basis it’s been really useful for everyone involved.
“Whatever your role – whether you’re a student, a senior person in your team or running a firm – there will be an opportunity that fits with whatever time you might have.
“Whether it’s to raise your profile or just to add to your own knowledge and your own network, volunteering can certainly achieve that,” adds Shah.
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