Meet Samantha Louis, Praxity’s next CEO

Chartered Management Accountant and international advocacy expert Samantha Louis will become Praxity’s first female CEO when she takes over from Graeme Gordon at the end of the year.

Breaking the mould is nothing new for this South African trailblazer, who has a strong pedigree of driving positive change in the accounting profession. An experienced leader who “thrives on challenges”, Samantha has achieved notable successes in accountancy leadership, global collaboration, multi-cultural communication. Samantha joins Praxity on 1 June and will officially takeover from departing CEO Graeme Gordon on 31 December, after a six-month introductory period to get up to speed.

She takes the helm at an important moment in the Alliance’s history. Praxity achieved record global revenues of US$7 billion in 2020, outperforming the industry with growth of 9.1%. After 14 years of consecutive growth, the Alliance now connects more than 60,000 accounting professionals who collaborate in over 100 countries to help companies overcome cross-border business challenges. Commenting on her new appointment, Samantha said: “It’s going to be an exciting new challenge. Praxity has gone from strength to strength and is in a privileged position. It’s a very exciting time to be involved. Praxity holds the No.1 spot [in the IAB’s world table of accounting associations] and is very well respected across the world. I want to make sure I retain that No.1 spot and ensure we don’t rest on our laurels.”

Accounting pedigree

Samantha brings extensive experience in leadership roles in accounting and non-profit organisations. She joins Praxity after four years with the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) in London, where she was Vice President of International Advocacy. She previously worked for the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) in South Africa for 18 years, working her way up from Divisional Director South Africa to Regional Director Africa. She moved to London in 2017 to become Director of Advocacy and later VP International Advocacy when the AICPA joined forced with CIMA to form the Association.

Her finance pedigree includes committee work with the International Federation of Accountants, Accountancy Europe, the IIRC and the second King Committee of Corporate Governance.

Best fit

Graeme Gordon, who will stay on until the end of the year to help Samantha settle into her new role, said: “We were very fortunate to have several very high calibre candidates as my successor. After a thorough selection process, I can honestly say Samantha was the individual who I and my colleagues realised was the best fit to take Praxity forward. After almost 12 years, I am proud of where I, and my team, have been able to take Praxity and it is doubly pleasing to feel that I will be leaving the Alliance in the hands of someone who can take the association on further.” Praxity Chairman Gordon Krater said: “We are grateful to Graeme for his leadership and for building a wonderful team to serve the Praxity members. We knew Graeme would be difficult to replace but we feel fortunate that we found Samantha Louis, who brings excellent experience combined with unbridled energy and enthusiasm. We are confident Samantha will work well with the Praxity team and help us advance Praxity’s mission to empower business globally.”

Samantha is confident Praxity, and the alliance model in general, can continue its upward curve. “When companies trade and work globally, they need to have access to specialist business support and local expertise. That’s why alliances like Praxity are going to be more important. It’s about confidence. When you invest in a new country, you want the best advisory services you can get,” she explained. Born and raised in South Africa, Samantha is also a leading strategist and communications expert who is passionate about equal opportunities and inclusion. After tenure as President of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa, Samantha was cited in the Top 10 most influential people in public relations in 2011 and is now a sought-after speaker at national and international conferences. She has a particularly strong knowledge of multi-cultural communication and diversity management, an interest she developed while building CIMA across Africa.