'There are lots of members out there who need local meetings to network, socialise, develop confidence and knowledge.' Kenneth Bell, ICB Head of Regions
With the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, 2012 is set to be an extremely exciting year for Britain. ICB regional meetings have given our members an opportunity to assist each other with their professional development. With the help of the forum, and enthusiastic members uniting together to represent Team GB, our branches have spread across the country and we now have over 18 regular branch meetings.
For the purposes of local networking, the UK has been split into 12 separate geographical 'Regions' as per the map below. Each Region is represented by an ICB member acting as Regional Chair. The 12 Regional Chairs are represented on the ICB Advisory Council by the Head of Regions, currently Ken Bell AICB CB.Cert PM.Dip.
Within each Region, local 'Branches' organise meetings under the guidance of the Regional Chair. Click on the map to find details of your local branch and your Regional Chair. If you live in an area of the country which does not have regular meetings, please email ICB's Regional Secretary, Mathini, at email@example.com to be put in touch with your Regional Chairman and to find out what plans are underway in your area.
You can also meet local members via the online Forum. Each Region has its own topic area found by scrolling to the bottom of the Forum homepage. This area of the forum is password protected so that only ICB students and members, rather than the general public, can access discussions regarding the date/time and location of meetings. You can log in to the forum using your usual ICB website login.
January's Region of the Month – West Midlands
Each month of the year, InVOICE will feature one of the 12 Regions starting this month with the West Midlands.
The West Midlands Region has really set the bar high and, over the past 5 years, meetings have developed across 4 counties in the region. As ‘Region of the Month’ we caught up with our Chairs for a quick chat.
Regional Chair – Kenneth Bell
Due to his exemplary contribution to the UK regional strategy and his tireless dedication to organising events, ICB member Ken Bell was invited to act as 'Head of Regions', liaising with the Regional Chairs and representing their interests at the ICB's Advisory Council.
Staffordshire Branch Chair – Gillian Fitzpatrick
Worcestershire Branch Chair – Kenneth Bell
Warwickshire Branch Chair – Sadie Griffith
West Midlands Metropolitan County Branch Chair – Sarah Dearnley
How have you branches developed?
Our initial meeting took place at a local pub between Kidderminster and Worcester, with only 3 members attending. Within the first year a second branch started in Solihull (now based in Henley-in-Arden) and then a third in Cannock. The meetings are generally attended by 10 to 20 members/students of all levels and take place every 6 to 8 weeks, generally in the evening from 7 - 9 pm.
What format do your meetings take?
Meetings follow a fairly standardised format with general discussions regarding bookkeeping issues and Q&A sessions. To date we have invited several local accountants who have spoken at the meetings. David Lockett of The Finance Department on Tax Credits will be attending the Worcestershire Branch's February meeting. Others have covered topics on Pensions reform, business success, marketing and Psychology in Business. Our own marketing expert, Martin Fildes, gives an excellent presentation on the topic.
What are the benefits of attending local branch meetings?
The benefits are abundant. As members run branch meetings, you can build up a strong local support network, in both a professional and social sense. It is also an opportunity for students to learn, find work and create links. Sometimes it’s just useful to chat to other bookkeepers, as it can sometimes be a lonely role.
What’s special about the West Midlands Region branch meetings?
Each branch has a Google and Wiki website for member information and communication. New members will find a warm welcome in an informal yet professional setting and will be able to network with other local professionals to extend their contacts and expertise, plus counting towards the continuing professional development requirements.
What are your visions for the future?
By the end of the year, to have 6 branches to cover the 6 counties and, eventually, to also have an annual West Midlands Conference. I know Garry Carter, ICB chief executive, is keen to visit each of the regions and support the Regional Chairs, so we are working with ICB central office to incorporate the annual CPD seminars into the Regional Meetings structure.
This year's Scottish CPD Seminars are joining together as one Scottish Conference due to take place on 28th March.
Upcoming West Midlands Region Branch Meetings:
Worcestershire: Tuesday 7th February, Ramada Hotel, Kidderminster, at 7.30pm.
Warwickshire: Tuesday 13th March, The White Swan Hotel, Henley in Arden, at 7pm.
Birmingham City Centre: Thursday 15th March, The Crescent Theatre, at 7.30pm.
Book your place via the ICB online shop - (Please note, you may only be able to book 1 month before the event)