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The charm of the public sector

Lindie Engelbrecht joined CIPFA this summer as the new education chief. PQ magazine editor Graham Hambly went to see what she’s got planned

November 2018

Lindie Engelbrecht is loving London. The former executive director at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants
(SAICA) has spent the summer enjoying
the sunshine and adjusting to her new
role as CIPFA’s managing director of
education and members. She has been involved in membership organisations for quite a few years, and for a time was CEO of the Institute of Directors in South Africa. Before that she trained at KPMG in Johannesburg, where she was born and raised, and rose to become a technical partner.
Her CV even includes some teaching,
where her specialist subject was auditing.
She told PQ she loved the interaction with students, but admitted audit wasn’t her favourite subject. She also took a sabbatical to bring up her kids – although that didn’t stop her from gaining a masters degree and serving on the boards of several listed companies, too.
It was while working at SAICA that she bumped into CIPFA, in the form of CEO Rob Whiteman – they were both on an IFAC committee. He happened to mention there was a job going at CIPFA and she applied. The rest, as they say, is history.

Why CIPFA?

So what attracted her to CIPFA? She says
she loves its unique focus on the public
sector. Engelbrecht felt many young people are looking for jobs where they can make a difference, and there is no better place to do this than in the dynamic world of public finance.
She sees the CIPFA qualification’s USP as a major plus. She explained: “Why would you want to take other qualifications when a lot of what you study will be irrelevant to your job? Our qualification has been built for purpose and allows our students do their stuff every day at work.”
And she stressed that gaining the CIPFA qualification allows you to be successful in the private sector, too.
In recent years, CIPFA has also become an important global player. While she wants to see UK numbers grow, Engelbrecht sees growth internationally continuing its upward trend. The lack of scrutiny in public sector finance in many countries means CIPFA is working closely with the UN and World Bank to help developing countries improve things.

‘We won’t over-engineer’:

Turning back to the exams, she was pleased to see that the online exam process has finally ‘settled in’. However, she was aware that in moving education online it was important not to ‘over-engineer’ what is being offered.
Engelbrecht feels there is still a place for
The charm of the public sector.
Lindie Engelbrecht joined CIPFA this summer as the new education chief. PQ magazine editor Graham Hambly went to see what she’s got planned face-to-face teaching. However, the challenge is getting the education mix right, and she is always looking for improved ways of delivering study for students. The key, she feels, is to be customer centric. Students study hard and so if something goes wrong in the exam they are going to rightly feel frustrated; it’s how CIPFA reacts to these sorts of problems that is vital, she said. One of Engelbrecht’s priorities is to look at the syllabus. Nearly every professional body seems to be looking at how AI, Big Data and sustainability should be incorporated into their syllabus. She said that in the process it was really important to recognise the stuff that needs to be taken out rather than what is keep in.
Educationalists also need to understand,
she said, that some things will be leant on the job. These things don’t need to be duplicated in the syllabus. Englebrecht will be looking at the big picture too, and the life cycle of a CIPFA member. PQs need to understand that their education is never over. Continuing professional development will be key to their employability. But a new syllabus is some way off, we are probably talking 2020 here.
Engelbrecht understands that there are serious ramifications to any changes and she is determined to get it right. She has taken on a big job, but she seems more than ready for the challenges ahead.

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