Johnston Carmichael Head of Audit steps out and up in aid of social mobility campaign

Graham Marjoribanks

Graham Marjoribanks

Vice-Chair and Head of Audit & Assurance

25 March 2024

Johnston Carmichael’s most senior audit professional is swapping running numbers for running shoes in aid of a charity campaign to encourage social mobility in the accountancy profession. 

Graham Marjoribanks, Partner and Head of Audit at Johnston Carmichael, a leading UK accountancy and business advisory firm, is running a half marathon to raise funds for the ICAS Foundation.  

He is among a group of 25 Chartered Accountants (CAs) taking on a challenge to raise funds for the ICAS Foundation, which was founded in 2012 to support young people from less advantaged communities to study accountancy and finance degrees. 

The annual charity campaign aims to raise at least £25,000 for the organisation, which relies solely on donations. 

Graham said: “It is a real honour to be invited to join the ICAS Foundation 25 campaign. I’m not much of a runner, so it’s quite a stretch for me to complete a half marathon. It is a bit like training to become a chartered accountant – it’s incredibly challenging, but with hard work and the right mindset it becomes a more attainable goal. 

“Getting outdoors more has also been a brilliant boost to my wellbeing. We can all get stuck behind our desks and convince ourselves we are too busy to make time for the things we enjoy doing, but it’s important to be able to process your day.” 

Although others went on to pursue degrees later in life, Graham was one of a small number in his peer group to attend university after leaving school. As a result, he feels strongly about encouraging young people who have the talent to pursue accountancy careers but may not have considered this path either through lack of awareness or financial obstacles. 

He added: “This is about giving different people a chance. At Johnston Carmichael, we want to attract the best people – and I don’t believe they are all from the same background. I had friends who didn’t go to university but could beat me hands down at poker because they could mentally calculate the odds faster than I could and were much better at reading people than me. Even though they didn’t go down the academic route they were incredibly astute and had the qualities we are looking for in our team. By casting the net wider, we can source a more diverse range of people. 

“And it’s not just a case of providing funding. Coaching people and giving them the confidence to speak out is just as important."

"I hope that my contribution inspires others to get involved with ICAS Foundation and provide a helping hand. Some people in my team are already mentoring students and they are finding it incredibly rewarding."

Graham’s charity pledge builds on Johnston Carmichael’s groundbreaking partnership with the ICAS Foundation. As part of the initiative, which was established last year, the firm is providing annual bursaries to support two accountancy students through their studies. The financial package aims to help with the cost of living and pay for materials related to their studies including textbooks and computing equipment. 

The students, whose courses got underway last October, will also benefit from mentoring with experienced accountancy professionals, as part of the ICAS Foundation’s ‘Nurturing Talent Programme’ 

To help a wider cohort of accountancy students Johnston Carmichael will additionally provide coaching to other Foundation programme participants in employability skills which are usually learned on the job or passed down from friends and relatives, such as networking and interviewing successfully. 

The partnership is the first of its kind nationally and follows a plea by the ICAS Foundation to the profession to get behind the scheme and help the charity to support a greater number of young people. 

Sanjay Singh, Director, ICAS Foundation, said: “We welcome Graham into this year’s ICAS Foundation 25 group, and I wish him well on his half-marathon challenge. The more funds we can raise, the more young people we can help and promote a diverse and inclusive pathway into the profession. Every year we receive considerably more applications from talented young people than we can fund, so fundraising efforts like this are very important for us to ensure that we can support those who need it the most.” 

Graham will undertake the Edinburgh half marathon on 26 May 2024. To donate to his fundraising drive, please visit his JustGiving page, here.

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