Graeme bows out after 11 record-breaking years
Outgoing CEO Graeme Gordon led the evolution of Praxity from fledgling association to the world’s largest and most successful global alliance of accounting firms. Here, we pay tribute to his extraordinary achievements.
When Graeme Gordon hands over the reins to new Praxity CEO Samantha Louis on 31 December 2021 to take the Alliance into an exciting new era, it will surely be with an immense sense of pride.
Under Graeme’s 11-year stewardship, Praxity has blossomed into the world’s leading alliance, connecting more than 60,000 accounting professionals in over 100 countries, with combined global revenues of US$7bn. Graeme’s passion for bringing people together to share knowledge and expertise in a seamless way has established the Praxity model as the best way for independent firms to thrive and help their clients achieve their international business goals. His unwavering commitment to driving Praxity forward has helped the Alliance to achieve multiple international awards, including Association of the Year 2021, and consistent year-on-year growth, culminating in today’s impressive growth rate of 9.1%.
Importantly, he has developed and upheld a strict policy of restricting membership to only the highest quality firms. He has also built a world class team of specialists to continually improve Praxity’s knowledge-sharing platform, networking opportunities and conferences. In doing so, he has helped transform the profession for good, driving international collaboration and helping member firms and their employees to grow.
Helen Jennings, Praxity COO, who has worked with Graeme for nearly three decades, says: “There aren’t many jobs where you get to work with your best friend every day. I feel truly blessed to have been assigned as Graeme’s auditor 27 years ago when I worked for BDO.
It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and a working relationship that spanned four companies. Graeme leads with integrity and has the most amazing work ethic anyone could ever imagine, yet still manages to put people first. He has been a great mentor to me and I will miss him dearly and daily. I am only pleased that we have found a great successor, Samantha Louis, who I really admire and respect for what she has already brought to the Alliance and will continue to do so over the coming years. But it is with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Graeme. He will be missed by everyone in the Alliance and undoubtedly, whilst we will not see him every day, he will remain good friends with many of us and we wish him and his family all the very best.”
Perhaps not surprisingly given the role, Graeme, like his successor, is very much a people person with a sense of fairness. And his sense of humour is legendary. Praxity Chairman Gordon Krater says: “Graeme is a very engaging and likable individual. He is creative, attentive, open-minded, fair and is a life-long learner. Graeme will always be remembered for his Harry Potter skit at the Global Conference in Windsor. He is a proud Scotsman who never misses an opportunity to wear his kilt. He has many other fine attributes and the only fault I can find with Graeme is that he is an avid New York Yankees fan 😊. Like any great leader Graeme helped find his successor and he has done an exceptional job working with Sam Louis to transition his role to her. Praxity members are so grateful to Graeme for all he has done for them and for the alliance.”
Lifetime Achievement Award at the Digital Accounting Awards 2021
Steered Praxity to ‘Association of the Year’ five times including 2021
Established Praxity as the 6th largest accounting organisation in the IAB world rankings
Achieved 11 years of consecutive growth, most of it organic
Ensured member firm representation in the most important commercial regions of the world
Helped deliver outstanding ‘live’, online and hybrid global conferences and events and created valuable opportunities for training and CPE accreditation
Helping people & organisations
A chartered accountant and former officer in the Royal Navy, Graeme has spent his entire career helping people and organisations be the best they can through a combination of professional training, innovation, visionary leadership and a lifetime of fundraising. He has almost four decades of board experience and has vast experience working with accounting and audit bodies, charities and global businesses. He is recognised for delivering consistent growth across a diverse range of organisations.
Being an historical knowledge repository, Graeme has acquired great insight on individual accounting specialists and an understanding of each member firms’ strategic needs. His international experience has taken him across Europe, Russia, North America, the Far East, the Indian Sub-Continent and the Middle East. In each region he has brought people and firms together to raise standards and enable firms to better meet their clients’ needs.
Graeme is also known for his dedication to driving up standards through membership of various committees, and regional and international accounting bodies, most notably the ICAEW (of which Graeme is a Fellow), the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants, London School of Economics and the Thames Valley Chartered Accountants (twice President). He was a key member of both the issuers committee of the London Stock Exchange and the audit committee of the London School of Economics. In the latter role, he reviewed both internal and external audit findings and monitored the leadership’s response to findings and recommendations. At the ICAEW, he guided strategy for the benefit of constituents and the membership as a whole as a representative of 7,000+ chartered accountants in the Thames Valley. More recently, he was independent director of the Association for Accounting Marketing.
Graeme has also held senior positions in finance, education and technology. Prior to joining Praxity, he was Managing Director and Senior Tutor for international training and development firm Emile Woolf Group. He was previously CFO of a technology company and of a merchant bank, both listed on the London Stock Exchange. Throughout his career, Graeme has consistently demonstrated the creativity, drive and resilience required to support businesses through periods of transformation and uncertainty, navigating major shifts in regulation with ease. Adaptable and forward focused, Graeme encourages individuals to embrace change and apply new technologies to progress. As an expert on governance, risk and compliance, he provides boards and senior leaders with the information they need to ensure regulatory adherence. He is culturally attuned and committed to providing valuable guidance and influencing board-level decision making to drive necessary change.
In 2020, Graeme became Master of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the greatest honour for a member of any Livery Company within the City of London. The Company raises large sums every year for charitable causes, funds bursaries for doctoral students, and helps foster high standards in the profession. Being keen to use his “Master” status to help the profession and those in need, Graeme recently completed a challenging 13-mile half marathon, 12-mile cycle ride and 150-mile row from the source of the River Thames to Tower Bridge in the City of London, raising more than £35,000 for five charities close to his heart. Graeme lives in Marlow, with his wife, and his beloved family dogs. He has three grown up children. Not one to rest on his laurels, he is now moving on to pastures new as a non-executive director and audit committee chair within organisations. Drawing on his experience as a global leader and ambassador, he will help organisations address performance issues, navigate risk, cultivate cultures of accountability and enable committees to advise with integrity. Gordon Krater concludes: “We wish Graeme and his wife, Sharon, all the health, happiness, and joy that they so richly deserve in the next phase of their lives. Thank you, Graeme, for all of your contributions and a ‘job well done’.”