In Mohammad Shoaib Memon’s home city of Hyderabad in southern Pakistan, chartered accountancy seemed like a relatively novel profession in the late 1990s. “I didn’t really know many chartered accountants, to be honest,” he says. “It was a very alien concept at that time.”
However, he did hear it cited as one of the most difficult yet rewarding professions you could get into, so he decided to give it a try.
The natural route into the profession was to train with an accountancy firm, and Memon was able to land a traineeship at KPMG Pakistan, becoming chartered through the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP).
“It is an exceptional route for people to develop their skills, although it is a different environment compared with what we see here in the West,” says Memon. “But still, I think the technical learning was excellent. I was lucky to have a very competent mentor as well.”
Memon specialised in the banking and finance sector while he worked in audit and, after moving to the UK, he worked with Ernst & Young (now EY) in London. When he decided he wanted a new challenge, he decided to move into the banking sector itself, taking a role at Europe Arab Bank. After 16 years at the company, he has taken on a number of roles at C-suite level, from CFO to acting CEO in 2018 and is currently COO and Executive Director.
“When you move outside your profession into a new role, you are in a position to bring something to the table, and it works both ways. You have your own strengths to bring in, and equally you need to be flexible enough to adapt to a new environment, and understand the dynamics of that different environment quickly.”
He joined ICAEW through its Pathways route to membership in 2009, having come across it the previous year. It appealed to him due to ICAEW’s global prestige, he explains.
“It was really a no-brainer for me,” says Memon. “I’m a strong believer in the concept of globalisation, that talent knows no boundaries, especially now. It’s up to the institutes and organisations to create possibilities for people. I think the Pathways programme has been a remarkable success for ICAEW, as well as the individuals who benefit from it in today’s globalised world.”
Memon plays an active role in both ICAP and ICAEW, chairing the UK chapter of the former and sitting on Council at the latter. He is driven by having a sense of purpose and a desire to give back to the wider community.
“I’ve sponsored quite a few ICAP members for the ICAEW Pathways programme,” he says. “I joined ICAEW’s Council as there are relatively few accountants in business representing their interests, and the expectations are quite distinct from those in practice. I thought I could contribute more towards that agenda.”
Memon was keen to help diversify the make-up of the Council and help improve the diversity of thought going into its decision making. “You need to have the right inclusive environment available for people to progress and flourish within the community. ICAEW is a global body, so I think its membership is only going to benefit if it has more diversity and has a broader base of representation at the top level.”
It’s all part of Memon’s drive to pay it forward; he wants to share his knowledge and help others to access the opportunities to progress as much as he has.
“You can only increase the knowledge by sharing it – that’s something I fundamentally believe,” he says. “The experience that you’ve gathered over the course of your career can be of benefit to a lot of individuals out there. These platforms provided by ICAEW, ICAP and other organisations are there for you to share that knowledge and experiences, to give you a perspective on how things are. If the intellectual capacity you develop through the situations and problems you face over the years could be of benefit to anyone else, why not share it?”
The next submission window for the ICAEW pathways Program will be in January 2024, with two more submission windows planned throughout the year.
More on Pathways
Giridhar S Varadachari had long wanted to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. He also fulfilled his dream thanks to the Pathways route into ICAEW.
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