News Feature

Gone but not forgotten

Professor Mike Harvey may have retired as IAB president, but if history is any indication, a third career is probably just around the corner. Lesley Meall looks back at his career and marvels at his achievements.

Professor Mike Harvey recently retired after five years as president of the International Association of Book-keepers. "His dedication to the IAB and his vast experience of the financial education sector made him an invaluable member of the team," says Malcolm Trotter, IAB chief executive - and lie will not easily be replaced.

During his five years as IAB president he has put a lifetime of contacts and experience at the association's disposal, acting as an ambassador for its members and the wider book-keeping profession both in the UK and overseas. "I have really appreciated his wisdom and support during my time as Chairman of the IAB," says Michael O'Brien. "His contribution will not soon be forgotten."


During the professor's time as president the IAB has gone from strength to strength, quantitatively and qualitatively.

Before becoming president of the IAB, the professor had a long and illustrious career in finance, making contributions to a number of professional bodies. He was president of the ACCA between 1995 and 1996, and chairman of the AAT between 1984 and 1985. "I believe I am the only person who has been a president of the bodies at all three levels of accountancy," namely chartered (ACCA) technician (AAT) and book-keeping (IAB) - and he is correct. But when he left school in 1954, after failing examinations with what he describes as “great regularity” there was little to indicate success as a finance academic lay ahead.

“It always seemed as if I was destined for the family retail business,” recalls the professor, “which didn't motivate me to work at school.” So at 18 he joined his parents in Olivetti's Wool shop, in Great Yarmouth. He started out doing odd jobs, such as cleaning and dressing windows. But he quickly moved into more demanding roles. He developed the first home knitting machine course in the UK and taught it at six evening centers, and by the time he left Olivetti's five years later the business had opened six new branches, and Harvey had become its accountant, company secretary and a director - and won the Small wares Silver Cup, a national award for the best retailer in the trade.

"I thoroughly enjoyed working in the family business," he recalls. But by the time he was 30, he realized that if he wanted to run the business as efficiently and effectively as possible lie would need to develop his finance and management skills. So he began studying accountancy and business on a part-time basis - combining marriage, parenthood and managing a growing business with study. But Harvey did so well academically that he was offered a full-time place as a mature student, reading economics at Hull University . After that lie started his second career as a teacher, by joining the University of East London . The rest, as they say, is history.

Professor Harvey may have come late to the worlds of academia and finance but it was worth the wait - for everyone involved. Five years after becoming a teacher be become professor of business studies at Westminster University, and went on to hold professional posts with a number of finance institutions including London Guildhall University, and South Bank University London.

"I enjoy teaching more than anything," says the professor, and he intends to carry on despite his retirement. He also has plans to write a book about knitting and spend some time relaxing. "My wife and I have four cruises booked," he explains, "so I am looking forward to those." In the past, Professor Harvey's assignments for overseas governments, professional bodies and educators have taken him to more than 50 countries including Italy , Jamaica , Malaysia and Sudan.

Harvey's academic success has also led to work in the corporate world, and he has worked on projects with Alcona, Chase Manhattan Bank, Chrysler, the Ford Motor Company and Marks & Spencer, as well as writing 12 books and more than 500 articles - which isn't bad going for someone who failed most of his A levels.

As the professor modestly quips: "One of my school reports stated, 'he has no academic ability: so I suppose there is hope for all of us."

A hard act to follow

J. Malcolm Dean has retired as IFA chief executive, but his long career with the instutute is anything but over

After 11 years in his post J. Malcolm Dean has retired as chief executive of the IFA. During his time as CEO Malcolm has overseen a substantial growth in membership numbers and helped to heighten the Institute's profile among the profession and the wider business community .

"I think he's done an exceptional job," says Michael O'Brien, chairman of the IFA council, adding: He's opened a lot of doors in the UK and oversees, particularly in China and parts of Eastern Europe ," -where the IFA now has a big presence.

Malcolm joined the IFA while working for Marconi Computers Ltd in 1966, attended his first District Society conference the same year and was soon the honorary secretary for the North Midlands DS, "I worked my way up though the profession and the Institute,” recalls Malcolm. "I moved from associate Member to fellow member by taking all of the necessary examinations, and then in 1974 I was invited to join the IFA council." Shortly after joining the council he became chairman of its education Working group, a role he filled for many years.

Meanwhile, Malcolm's career was also developing. After seven years working in engineering, he entered the retail motor industry where he became the managing director of a small group of garages.” When I left the motor trade Inset up a business importing and exploring motor parts." says Malcolm, He also spent some time as a consultant with the British Council, which provided him with contacts and experience that came in very handy when he started expanding the IFA membership and student base overseas.

"I met someone working in Eastern Europe during a reception at the Bulgarian Embassy," Malcolm explains. "It was a chance meeting but I spotted an opportunity," - and that's how the IFA started to expand into Eastern Europe , where it now has thousands of members and students. This led Malcolm to investigate and exploit the possibilities for the IFA to expand into other regions such as China , Hong Kong , Malaysia Sri Lanka and South Africa.

Dedication and team spirit

But Malcolm insists that all the success he has achieved for the institute and its members would have been impossible without the support of staff at Burford House. "They have repeatedly demonstrated their dedication and team spirit," he says, "On one occasion a number of yeras ago, they even carried on working after pipes burst and the buliding was partially flooded, "he explains with obvious affection and pride. "No metter how difficult the conditions, they have always done their utmost to provide a full service to members." ads Malcolm.

The support to council members has also been instrumental in Malcolm's success while chief executive.” They have given me free reign to develop the institute, within their guidelines and strategy, "he says, enabling the executive to swell the ranks of the IFA while increasing the profile of its members.”As well as blinding and developing some very important relationships between the IFA and other bodies, Malcolm has helped the institute to develop a more robust regulatory framework," suggests O'Brien, particularly in respect to members in practice.

It's all kept Malcolm incredibly busy, so what's he going to do with his free time after he retires as chief executive? "I will be staying on with the IFA in a consultancy capacity," he says, as its associate director for international relations. "I'll be working with international centres to promote the IFA in its current overseas markets and to develop new ones, "he explains - and he has a few other irons in the fire.”I'm setting up an online antiques business to develop my interest in modern collectables and teapots." adds Malcolm.

Over the past two years it's become quite a hobby and an area where Malcolm has developed some expertise, "I bought my first lea pot at a car boot sale, as part of a $5 lot including cups and saucers," he recalls, "and a couple of weeks later I sold the teapot alone for $42. "Never a man to let opportunity pass him by, Malcolm has since acquired between 50 and 70 teapots. "They're an investment," he says, but this doesn't stop him from being emotionally attached to his favourite, based on the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. "I wouldn't sell it for the world," he says, "to me it's priceless." Not unlike the man himself.