Jonathan Williamson CDir My Journey to Chartered Director

I began my professional career over 20 years ago in Autumn 2003.  I joined one of the Big 4 accountancy firms to train as a Chartered Accountant.  Having joined the firm with a Master’s Degree in Accounting, I only had to pass the Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI) Final Admissions Exam (FAE) before qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 2006.

During the last 20 years I spent 10 years in Audit, 2 years in Consulting and 7 years in Operations and Managed Services, as well as spending some time working for the Northern Ireland Civil Service.  During these years I attended numerous training courses and was also involved in education, being a FAE examiner for CAI for several years. However, I never completed any major professional development programmes.

Twenty years on from starting my training and career as a Chartered Accountant, I decided the time was right to push myself and undertake some more professional qualifications which would advance my career and provide me with the skills that I now need in my role.

I have been operating at an executive level for a number of years and have also been a Trustee in a local NI charity and so was drawn to the IoD’s Chartered Director’s Programme.  In that programme, I saw the opportunity to gain skills relevant to my role, complete a professional qualification, and connect with other business leaders in Northern Ireland from across all sectors.  I had considered other avenues but I felt the Chartered Director’s programme was the right programme for me at the right time and would equip me for Board Room decision making.   Meeting Directors from various sectors during the courses has added to the richness of the experience and gave me insight into how other people and organisations approach similar situations.

Once I signed up to the Certificate Level, I was determined to pass the exams as quickly as possible.  I started the Certificate courses in September 2022 and by January 2023 had passed all the exams and obtained the Certificate in Company Direction.  I then achieved the Diploma in April 2023 before achieving the Chartered Director status in June 2023 – almost exactly 20 years after starting my professional career.

It was tough undertaking all 3 levels in less than a year – but it is doable!  My advice for the certificate is to book the exam dates immediately and use those deadlines as a motivation to clear each hurdle.  Once you have the Certificate, the Diploma exam really consolidates what you have already learned and adds the ability to apply that knowledge in a case study scenario.  So, again, my advice is to complete the Diploma as close to the Certificate as possible whilst all the knowledge  gained from the Certificate is fresh in your mind!

The Chartered Director qualification requires your demonstration of sufficient breadth and depth of experience at Board level.  If you meet the criteria,  then you should definitely apply for this and seek the qualification to accredit your experience and receive the recognition you deserve.

I’m very proud to be both a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Director and I believe I use both qualifications daily in my current role as Chief Operating Officer in NI for EY.

Better directors for a better world

The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.
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