Andrew Conway: The Accounting Industry's Rising Star
Andrew Conway is not your typical 30-year-old.
As CEO of the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), he has the responsibility of driving an ambitious growth strategy for one of the nation’s peak accounting bodies. However, this self-starter already has a robust resume that illustrates a proven track record in the accounting profession.
Conway worked as an accountant for an insolvency firm in Melbourne before being appointed as the chief of staff to one of the federal treasury ministers. He has also played a direct role in shaping corporate regulation with the Australian Government by being appointed as a representative of the government to international delegations including as an observer of the 2002 congressional elections in the United States.
We spoke with Conway about his accomplishments and plans for the future.
What ignited your desire to have a career in accounting?
I have always had a passion for accounting. Ultimately, my desire to have a career in the profession is driven by a fundamental belief in the role of the accountant in driving wealth creation for individuals and businesses.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment thus far?
Being appointed as CEO of one of Australia’s recognized professional accounting bodies is something I am very proud of. In my role prior to the Institute, I was working within the federal treasury ministry and had direct involvement and oversight of a range of corporate law reforms. This resulted in changes to financial services, corporate regulation and national competition policy.
In addition, I am a director of a not-for-profit community broadcasting body for which, in part, I received a Centenary of Federal Medal through the Australian Honours system. However, in terms of accomplishments, I would suggest most recently having been appointed by the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics as a Professor of Accounting is an accomplishment I am both proud of and keen to pursue.
What are some of the most important attributes of being a business leader in the accounting field?
I believe it is important to have an appreciation of the broader context of the impact of the profession. There is a direct economic impact made by the profession and this is critical in a developed economy. This extends to understanding the profession-political realities such as the standard setting environment; understanding the regulatory interface and workings of governments; being forthright yet diplomatic, but critically maintaining a focus on the impact on members.
We operate with an Executive Management Group which meets on a weekly basis and when we are discussing a proposal, the constant question asked is, ‘What impact will this have on our members?’ For us, members are ‘number one.’
Can you discuss your role within IPA?
In my capacity as CEO, I have overall responsibility for the operations. We have completed a program of systematic review of our strategy and have reviewed and upgraded a range of infrastructure such as our e-commerce platforms. These are designed to ensure we are optimising the efficient use of members’ resources. My principal focus is on our members.
The success and longevity of the organisation rests upon our ability to provide members with the best and broadest possible services to assist them in their work, whether that is in practice, commerce, academe, public sector or in their studies. We have a growing membership base abroad and have developed a strong model in China and Malaysia resulting in a network of offices and member service centres throughout the region.
Why is it important that Australia has a stronger, globalized accounting profession?
A globalised accounting profession is foundation stone for capital market growth. Australia will continue to play a significant role in the development of the accounting profession in developing countries. This will enhance transparency and financial stability in countries and will lead to sustained periods of growth and opportunity. Australian accountants are therefore in a unique position to assist in the evolution of this change and make a real difference.
What are your future goals and aspirations?
I am completely committed to the IPA. I fundamentally believe in what we are doing and in our plans for the future. We have ambitious plans and are fortunate to have a team of wonderful people and a fantastically supportive membership. We therefore not only have the plan, but the capacity and enthusiasm to execute those plans. They will result in membership growth, enhanced influence and a greater regional footprint whilst providing the best possible accounting education program.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.