Tuesday, 15 November 2016

No ordinary days in London

Last Thursday I attended a conference about internal audit and regulation for the banking and financial services sector. What a great time we had! Fun, games, jokes, and to end it all three games of bingo with great prizes to be won. Well that would have been nice I guess, had it been true.

Actually we were a room of banking, finance and audit professionals, and addressing highly significant areas of regulation which will have a serious impact on the credibility and validity of our industries. The event was very interesting and very informative and, as everyone knows, we are always people who are great fun to be around. What? You didn’t know that?

The next day however was a day for sober reflection. November 11th. Armistice Day. A time to reflect on the immense courage and fortitude in unimaginable conditions faced by men and women in battle. At 11.00 the two minutes silence was observed by those who wished to, and in my town another minute was added for the seven people who died in a tram crash just last Wednesday, during what they thought would be an ordinary journey to work.

I often think that the men and women who died in battle must have been just like my students: full of life, with hopes, fears and ambitions, making plans and more plans for their futures. Their lives had stretched out ahead of them, but were then so cruelly denied them. As I look at my students I am so grateful that they were born many decades later. May we never forget those of all nations who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The Honourable Artillery Company
November 11th was not only about remembrance, as it had another aspect of a happier kind. A day to celebrate the men and women attending their well-deserved graduation ceremony! This joyous event was held at the centrally located Honourable Artillery Company, an oasis in the midst of the city, and full of character and history.

Excited men and women came together to be robed in caps and gowns, the symbols of their character and achievement. Family and friends arrived and were greeted by the ECBM reception staff. An atmosphere of excited anticipation hung in the air. Pictures were taken, some formal and some informal, pictures that will be shown to families for many years to come.

Up on stage congratulatory hands were shaken. Applause spontaneously rang out from the audience. Praise and recognition came from eminent members of the commercial, political and academic worlds who gave time out of their busy and important schedules to support and congratulate the graduates who they clearly admired. Friends and family were so pleased to see such success. ECBM management and teaching staff, having seen at first hand many of the challenges our students faced, were delighted for them.

In one of the speeches we were reminded that, in life, we can either take a chance or make a choice. The graduates had made a choice to open up more doors of opportunity and they were determined to succeed, as they did. I will always advocate making choices rather than taking chances. And the nice part of all of this is that age is never a barrier. I last graduated when I was 53 years old.

Yes… our graduates certainly had a great time in London. ECBM wishes them all further great times in cities around the world in the years to come.

Graham Harman-Baker

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