Saturday, 6 March 2010

A day with mama ACCA

BY GREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR
IT is raining. The thunder rolls into far distance. Rain pours down like a deluge. It is a stormy afternoon. Fat drops of rain continue to smear the ground. After some minutes, the noise of the rain ceases, but flashes of lightning attract attention.
There’s a gentle knock on the door. “Come in,” the lady inside answers.
Standing up and curtseying is Toyin Ademola, Country Manager, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). She is a middle-aged lady with a graceful figure and look. Her complexion is fair and brilliant. Her eyes? Bright and sparkling. Pains cannot trace a line, or grief shadow in the sweet face. I’m a bit stuck. The thought of how she manages her career bubbles in my heart.
“I have to give glory to God because he is one that gives me the wisdom and ability to manage the home. I will also give a lot of thumbs up for my husband because he is very understanding and supportive,” the ACCA boss mutters. She runs her eyes on the files to be treated. She rises from behind the broad desk, crosses to the other side where some pictures are displayed. She points, “when I was offered this ACCA job, he knew about it. From the very beginning, he knew about it, even when I was asked to prepare the presentation, my husband was involved in every aspect of it. Not that he wrote it, but I would tell him this is the presentation I’m going to make, what do you think about it? Even when I went for the interview, there were three stages, he was always calling to ask, how was it? What did they ask and what did you say? When I eventually got the job, we sat down to discuss the advantages and disadvantages we discovered there will be a lot of travelling involved and everything.”
Leaning her back on the seat, Ademola does not waste words, adding: “I think it is more of a lot of organisation, prayers and communication.”
She checks her daily diary appointment book, and then confirms what happens next. She says, “I always communicate to my husband this is what we are doing, so, I’m going to be in the office late. But ultimately, he would have known that we are doing it because I always put him in the know: the way we talk on phones and all that. I think that what ruins most marriages is that most partners don’t know what the other person is doing. If everybody is open, this is what I’m doing and this is what he is doing, you know the right hand not knowing what the left is doing, everybody going different ways.”

SHE lifts the switch of the intercom and presses a number. She calls an aid to bring a bottle of table water. She looks at me again and gives a friendly smile. She says couples should have things they share together. She snorts, “what are the things we have together? We have the same values, beliefs, and ultimately, we have the same goals. As long as we know what we are trying to achieve, there won’t be any problem.”
She adds, “I talk a lot about football. When we first got married, I wasn’t use to talking about football. My husband insisted that I must like something that he likes so that we could share it together. And I remember the first match I ever watch was the first time DStv came to Nigeria. And they were showing the match at Pyramid. The match was between Manchester United and Liverpool. Half of the people there did not like Manchester United, because at that point in time, Andy Cole had just moved over to the club. And they were abusing his every move, and I felt for him. I then said I’m going to support his team. And it happened that Man U won, that was how I got into football. I don’t like cricket, but I find myself watching it because he will sit down, watching it so. I think that couples should think of mutual things they can do together and also, like together. If a man likes to play golf and his woman doesn’t, it wouldn’t help the home. This, however, does not mean that they should choke each other. A man should have the things he wants to do by himself and she also should have those things she wants to do by herself. They should look for the things that they do together that they enjoy.
Ademola stares out at the now inky sky and says, “inform him that we are going to be late. I don’t even drop it on him, say, tomorrow. I give him notice. While we are there, he will call; I will call, because of his upbringing as well, he is a very communicative person. He likes tapping in at information. He likes asking questions. He will ask me questions, and I will do likewise.”
She warns: “Job will come and go, but your family will be there for you and with you.” There is an air of hope in her face as she speaks. “Even when my mother was a career woman, she was always at home before my father got back, so, when I got married, she would tell me, Toyin, there is no basis for you to go out at 9pm or at night and leaving your husband at home.”

ADEMOLA smiles as if at fond memories of her growing up. With gleam concentration in her eyes, she gushes encouraging tones. “My parents are in their 70s and are still together. There was no way I could just say I’m going out at night or for a party and my husband would just be at home. The way I was brought up, the family comes first. For me, I wouldn’t have taken the job if he had not been okay with it, to be honest with you. Like I said, I grew up in a home where the family comes first before career. Ultimately, if I had a career that is threatening my family life, I will leave it. It is not because we are extremely rich or whatever, but for me, the job will come and go. Even if you’re very good, at one point they will tell you that you’re either too big, or they will sack you or whatever. For me, your family will always be there for you and with you. For me, family life is the key. Maybe because of how I grow up, my mother compromised a lot for her family, I know she would have had positions in her field, onshore or offshore, and she didn’t take it. I remember vividly when the woman was being posted to America, and she turned it down. Let me tell you, they will even call me at home and ask me, what are you doing?

SHE’s the central character in ACCA’s mission to get more Nigerians certified. So, when she is not in the office discussing strategy, Ademola is to be found doing interviews, holding talks in the accounting body. She’s unflinching about why she transited from the arts to the numeric. She actually read French in school. She speaks without a caveat. “The association is the global body for professional accountants and is guided by high principles of integrity. It offers business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.”
The Career Day Celebration, which held recently, is part of the corporate social responsibility of the body. “It is part of our strategy to give youths opportunity to meet with career experts and certified professionals who will guide them on right career paths.”

THE ACCA office, which was opened in 2006, is meant to serve the interest of it trainees in Nigeria who want to become certified professional in their field by learning and cultivating global standards and principles in the accounting profession.
“ACCA trainees can now register, pay for their tuition, receive lectures and conveniently write their exams right here in Nigeria, through our office without necessarily having to travel to the UK,” she discloses.
As part of the ACCA activities in Nigeria, Ademola discloses that her organisation engages in a continuous professional development programme, where members have the opportunity to get updated on current global developments in the accounting profession. Members also use the forum to listen to experts and technocrats in the accounting field, and they have time to network among themselves
ACCA Nigeria also partners other organisations in the country on a continuous basis to facilitate programmes that will edify and add value to their professional career.

FOR Ademola, a perfect weekend for her is the one spent with her family. Who in the world would she like to sit next to go on a long-haul flight?
She looks at me and breathes, “my husband of course. He is my best friend.” She adds, “maybe it is different in this environment, if my husband is having a late meeting; he will call me and tell me. I think what has worked for us is the fact that first, we are friends. We were very good friends and we are still friends now. We gist a lot about things. My husband is my best friend. We talk about everything and sometimes, we realize that we shouldn’t be saying these to each other because we are husband and wife.”




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