Sharron Gunn qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1989.
After leaving practice she worked as a financial accountant for Wates City plc before joining Sainsbury plc in 1993.
In 2001 Sharron joined the ICAEW and was appointed Executive Director a decade later. Her role has grown over the years and she is now responsible for ICAEW’s commercial arm, member strategy, product development, digital strategy and UK regions; leading a department of more than 200 staff members.
Sharron is ICAEW’s gender diversity lead and has developed a wide range of programmes for women in the accountancy profession. She created the ICAEW Women In Leadership programme, a six month coaching course for women across all industries who are aiming for senior management, partner or board roles.
In addition, Sharron has given evidence to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee on women in business, frequently speaks on panels and is involved with the National Black Women’s Network, which supports BME women in small businesses. She sees mentoring as a key way to support women’s career development, and mentors a wide range of ICAEW female staff as well as members and women across a range of industries.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m Sharron Gunn and I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1989. I then worked as a financial accountant for Wates City plc before joining Sainsbury plc in 1993. In 2001 I joined the ICAEW and was appointed Executive Director a decade later. My role has grown over the years and I am now responsible for ICAEW’s commercial arm, member strategy, product development, digital strategy and UK regions; leading a department of more than 200 staff members.
During my time at ICAEW, I have launched a successful jobs website and a range of support services. One of these helps members on a career break – especially women – return to the accountancy profession. I recently played a key role in the refurbishment of the Member’s Business Centre at ICAEW, helping it become a magnet for Members. I have also rebranded and launched One Moorgate Place – the institute’s venue – which has grown into a successful business.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No I did not. I have just gone with things that have felt right.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Many! Mostly connected to not pushing myself forward for promotions earlier on in my career then becoming frustrated when I realised I easily could have done the role.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I am very positive about mentoring, especially from outside your existing organisation. I have been mentored and have mentees.
What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?
We still need far more women in senior positions in organisations.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Being able to have two daughters whilst continuing to work full time and still progress my career. It’s not always easy to balance.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I always have a long list of things I still want to achieve. I don’t feel I have achieved my potential yet so I am always looking for new challenges.