District Society AGMs round up

Jun 26, 2020
When COVID-19 arrived in Ireland in late-February 2020, the significant impact on events like AGMs only became clear as many became settled into their home working spaces, and the busy AGM season closed in. Just like every other organisation, it became clear that Chartered Accountants Ireland would need a plan-B for the Institute AGM as well as the District Society ones.  

A project team was assembled to ensure AGMs could go ahead and that mechanisms were in place to allow for full participation by members.  This team consisted of the Institute Secretary; members of the IT team; District Society executives led by project manager Gillian Duffy; and too many other to name around the organisation.  The situation was evolving quickly and therefore the whole team did too, becoming well-versed on various available platforms and logistics.   

Having run a virtual Institute AGM successfully a couple of weeks earlier, the District Societies had something of a road map for success in place but with seven scheduled to happen, there was plenty to do.  

Naturally, a key concern was to ensure compliance with bye-laws and rules, and Institute Secretary Heather Briers carefully and patiently guided each Society’s Chair, Executive and the wider team through the procedures to ensure compliance and confidence for everyone. This attention to detail in tandem with the technical and logistical support were a focus throughout.  

There were, of course, challenges to holding these events virtually for the first time. These included the simple act of getting to grips with a platform new to everybody: staff, members, society members. With a tight timeframe, there were a lot of practice sessions and learning “on the job”.   

The practice sessions were set up as mock meetings to ensure the best possible experience for both the Chairs and members, meaning trialling functionality like voting, asking questions, and commenting. For this, technical support was on hand throughout the duration of each meeting to ensure attendees had full support throughout.  

On 8 June 2020, the Ulster Society AGM took place and Maeve Hunt was elected Chair for the year. The very next day, the Cork Society AGM took place at which Kevin Nyhan was elected Chair. After a couple of days breathing room, the Leinster Society AGM on 12 June saw Aine Crotty being elected Chair. Just yesterday, Thursday 25 June at the London Society AGM, Peter Keenan-Gavaghan’s continuation as Chair for the coming year was confirmed.  

What had not been foreseen as an “upside” was increased engagement at the virtual AGMs. Members who might not generally have been able to attend a physical meeting for geographical or timing reasons were in some cases able to attend virtually. 

For the remaining upcoming AGMs (North West, Mid West and Western Societies, we envisage either virtual AGMs or hybrid but we will await information and official guidance for this and register attendees accordingly.  

Our best wishes to those elected to lead at District Society level for the coming year, and also our thanks for the effort and dedication of many people across the organisation towards ensuring our seamless switch to the virtual AGM world these last few weeks. Out of adversity has come achievement!