“I like being part of an organisation that gets you noticed” Amaechi Nsofor, Partner, Grant Thornton UK LLP
Advisory Partner, Amaechi Nsofor, brings his business acumen, his personal exposure, and professional experiences to his role as an IoD board director. He hopes to complete the Chartered Director qualification and is enjoying the benefits of the IoD’s extraordinary network as he plans the next stage of his career.
I was born in Glasgow and raised in Nigeria where I went to school. I returned to Glasgow to complete my secondary school and university education. I have worked in England ever since. When I started thinking about how I might progress to Partner, I couldn’t see people like me reflected in those positions. It’s important to have diverse role models, so people from all ethnicities and backgrounds feel they can follow in your footsteps.
In the late 90s, campaigning for diversity and inclusion wasn’t as acceptable as it is now and it was more challenging to discuss race and diversity. I joined the black network at my last firm and restructured it to make it work harder and better for the people it was supposed to be serving. There was a tendency for these affinity groups to operate and get treated like a trade union and this was not working. Now, they are much more likely to be well-funded and organised as part of People & Culture. The conversation has moved on significantly and is even welcomed now.
Historically, career options were more limited in African cultures and going to school in Nigeria, there was an emphasis on acquiring recognised qualifications to access a professional career. As I was good with numbers and people, accountancy was an obvious fit. It’s very different for my own children who are in the UK, they have lots of life choices. To be honest, if I had my time again, I might have studied science at university and then moved into accountancy. This would have given me greater breadth of knowledge and experience.
After I qualified as a chartered accountant, I specialised in advisory, moving across from audit. I work in the field of insolvency, for creditors who wish to pursue debtors for repayment of debts or claims. I was the first black partner appointed at my firm and I currently head up the African practice of our business. I treat my background as an asset; it is part of what makes me unique and is an opportunity to add value.
I bring these skills and attributes to my role as an IoD board member and as part of the IoD Audit and Risk Committee. I am also part of the IoD Africa Special Interest Group which supports trade initiatives between the UK and Africa. Membership organisations like the IoD are facing significant challenges and have to withstand extraordinary public scrutiny. The Royal Charter brings additional burdens and responsibilities. Having a diverse board enhances our effectiveness.
IoD membership provides an incredible opportunity to connect with around 20,000 people and the brand has enormous global credibility. I was recently in a client meeting with the Minister of Finance of a country and he heard I was an IoD board director. He also happened to be a member and this gave us a lot of common ground to engage on a discussion around good governance, which is central the IoD’s ethos. I like being part of an organisation that gets you noticed.
In future, I would like to see a more modernised IoD and one which still caters for the needs of our older members (like me!). Building a more diverse membership is at the heart of management’s strategy and I am fully supportive of this.