Flying the flag for fairness
New CEO aims to strengthen Praxity’s inclusive, collaborative approach
Praxity’s next CEO Samantha Louis has a strong track record for bringing about positive change in the accounting and communication professions. Born and raised in South Africa, Samantha is a Chartered Global Management Accountant who has spent her career fighting for inclusion and equity, and helping individuals and organisations fulfil their potential. Samantha has achieved considerable successes in her homeland and on the global stage in non-profit management, public relations, diversity and international advocacy. She is particularly knowledgeable and passionate about multi-cultural communication and diversity management, an interest she developed while building business across Africa.
Scope to grow
As Praxity’s new CEO, a role she officially starts at the end of the year, Samantha is keen to continue the Alliance’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality, building on the work of departing CEO Graeme Gordon. She explains: “The staff at Praxity Executive Office are pretty diverse, but the profession has scope to grow. We need to think about how we can build a more diverse workforce around the globe, taking into account gender, ethnicity and other differences. Coming from South Africa, diversity is very dear to my heart. My career started as South Africa opened up and transformed into the Rainbow Nation under Nelson Mandela. There was huge inequality.” Samantha believes addressing inequality requires a knowledge of cognitive diversity, the different ways people exhibit their preferred way of thinking based on factors such as where they were born and raised, and their experiences. “It starts with recruitment. How are you going to bring people into your firm to ensure diversity of thought? Gender and ethnicity will play a role in that because we all have different learned life experiences.” Her own learned life experiences have been transformative. She describes her proudest moment as “taking our Africa region from 2000 members and students to 25,000”, adding: “What is important is the people behind these numbers. When you are able to qualify at Chartered level in a middle to low income country, it takes you to a completely different level in terms of economic opportunities.”
Ready for the stage
Samantha is married with two children, both of whom have followed her into finance – her daughter is a chartered accountant, and her son is working in financial services – although she points out her own vocation was originally drama! It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Samantha is “passionate about theatre, the arts, museums and ballet”, access to which has sadly been denied during the pandemic. “It’s been incredibly challenging during the last year, especially given the unbelievable wealth of top-quality creative talent we have in London,” she explains. With a background in drama and a love of theatre, it seems Samantha was destined for the stage in some form or other, and what better way to perform to a global audience than as CEO of the world’s largest and most successful Alliance of independent accounting and consulting firms.