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Orla Collins
ACCA

Orla Collins takes the throne as ACCA global president

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Ireland-based Orla Collins is the first woman from Ireland to be appointed the global president of the ACCA.

22nd Nov 2021
Editor AccountingWEB
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Orla Collins becomes the fifth woman president of the ACCA in the professional accountancy body’s 118-year history, it was confirmed at the ACCA’s annual council meeting on 18 November.

She takes the reins from last year’s president Mark Millar, while Joseph Owolabi, from Melbourne, Australia, was appointed deputy president and Ronnie Patton, a senior lecturer at Ulster University, became vice president.

“For my presidential term, I’ll focus on opportunity and the value of the global accountancy profession. I want to celebrate all that ACCA offers as a professional body to its members, future members and its wider community,” Collins said in a statement.

As president Collins will lead ACCA’s 233,000 members and 536,000 future members in 178 countries.

Work history

The Dublin-based ACCA fellow joined the ACCA in 1997 and has been a Council member since 2012. Over that period she has held roles such as chair of audit committee in 2017 for two years.

She takes on this figurehead role alongside her full-time job as deputy managing director of Aberdeen Standard Investments Ireland.

The new ACCA president has worked at this organisation for over three years, where she started as head of compliance in 2018. After a year and nine months she ascended to the interim managing director position and then from April 2021 to her current position of deputy managing director, while also sitting on the board of directors.

On her Linkedin profile, Collins describes herself as having skills in governance, internal audit, risk management and compliance. She also holds an MSc in strategic management (first class honours), and is a member of the Institute of Bankers.

Pride in Ireland

In an interview with ACCA, Collins explained that when she left school all she knew was what she didn’t want to do, “and that was the kind of jobs girls usually did”.

As someone that had “a taste of accountancy at school” and “genuinely loved maths”, she quickly made up her mind that a job in finance was for her.

She feels great pride in her home country and admitted to wearing her favourite pair of green shoes when she was named ACCA vice president. “It was a little nod to Ireland – to where I am from, and who I am – and I’ll never forget that,” she told ACCA.

Hail to the chiefs!

Collins’ inauguration as the new ACCA president means two women will be leading two of the biggest professional accountancy bodies in the UK, with chartered accountant and AccountingWEB contributor Julia Penny becoming ICAEW President in June 2022.  

Collins joins four other women who have held the president position at the ACCA. The first was Vera De Palma in 1980, but it wasn’t until 2007 when Gillian Ball OBE became the next woman president. Since then, there have been two other female presidents, with Datuk Alexandra Chin from Malaysia getting the nod in 2015 and Jenny Gu becoming the first woman president from Greater China for 2019/2020.

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