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Joint regional meeting between EMEA and AsiaPac: Istanbul 2014
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By Adebola Olubanjoof Adebola Sobanjo & Co. (Abuja, Nigeria).

It was a great privilege for me to be present at the first ever Joint Regional Meeting of BKR International for the Asia Pacific and EMEARegions. The meeting was held at the Hilton Hotel Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, from Friday 2nd May to Monday 5th May, 2014.

The meeting was held in the historical and densely populated city of Istanbul in the Republic of Turkey. The choice of Istanbul contributed to the uniqueness of the meeting and gave me a life time opportunity to visit historical sites in the only city in the world where the two continents of Europe and Asia are peacefully and uniquely located as one territory in a city. It is a great beauty to behold the two continents in one city while standing or sitting on a boat in Bosphorus.


Prior to the Istanbul meeting, the only BKR meeting I had attended was a sub-regional meeting in Stellenbosch, in the Federal Republic of South Africa. As a result, my expectation was very high but my experience of BKR meetings was very little. It is with great satisfaction and sense of responsibility that I am stating that my expectations were exceeded and I did not want the meeting to end. I could have asked for three tabernacles to be built in Istanbul, one each for the Stephens – Stephen Roger (Sydney)

and Stephen Hamlet(London) and the other one for the ever smiling, friendly and hardworking Maureen Schwartz (New York), the Executive Director at the Worldwide office of BKR. The lady and the two men worked hard to ensure the huge success achieved at the meeting.

How can I forget the three “musketeers” made up again of two men and a lady who were saddled with great professional responsibilities.


The first of the three is Angelo Colombo (Milan) who was at the meeting throughout. You will never know that he carried out the responsibility of being the world chairman with such humility and professionalism for the past two years and will be leaving the position at the end of June.
lourensThe next man is my friend from South Africa, Lourens Oosthuizen whom I first met in Stellenbosch and I was amazed at his simplicity and gentleness. I have a picture of him to prove my case. He was simply marvellous in South Africa as he directed the meeting which was my first outing as an independent member of BKR International. In Istanbul, he continued to demonstrate his simplicity and love for others as the chairman for the EMEA Region.

nilar-chanThe ladies in BKR are unique and a delight at all times. One of them is Nilar Chan (Hong Kong) who is the chair of Asia Pacific Region. Her presentation at the Business meeting was sharp and precise.

Mention must also go to Lien Le (Houston) who presented the International Tax Committee report on the Monday morning and Jason Tonjes (Omaha) for presenting his Americas Chairman report.

Additionally, a highlight was a most entertaining presentation by Jason Croston (Brisbane) and Peter Janssen (Roermond) on the 12 Critical Changes to the Accounting Profession.

These men and women are very selfless and committed to the success of BKR International; I salute them and I wish all of us who are not in any position can emulate them in order to carry the association – BKR International- to a higher level with greater competitive advantage for itself and its independent member firms.
I cannot but mention the dexterity of the organizers of the meeting in outsourcing services and in running the meetings to time. Time was managed very well so there was no anxiety about when an event will end. It was always ending as planned. People obeyed the time schedules and I was impressed. The quality of service providers was excellent e.g. the tour organizer, who ensured good buses, good restaurant, hotel, etc.
The Hilton gave us good and varied food for every culture and health needs. These are experiences that new comers like me, will never forget. Thanks to all those who are behind this success. BKR meetings are baskets full of good things, at least that was my experience in South Africa and Istanbul. Learning and sharing of experiences took place each day of the meeting. Teaching on marketing was such that you cannot but feel confident that after the meeting, if you utilize the knowledge gained, your firm, will move up to a higher level.

The method of teaching was one special aspect of the meeting. All the attendees were divided into three groups and there was time to interact, discuss and share experiences under the co-ordination of two well selected and experienced members. Confidence was built in me after going through the marketing and staff retention sessions of the meeting.

One document that I received at the meeting has been a companion since I received it in Istanbul. I have never seen such a document before. It is the Cross-regional Statistical Analysis for the Asia Pacific/EMEA Region. I was amazed to see the analysis for each firm from different countries and regions. This document has spurred me to action in our firm. I could see that it is the best way to benchmark our firm using various metrics.

I remember Les Nutter (Manchester) who has become my friend and Grant Allsopp (Sydney) as they brilliantly presented the analysis and gave gifts to some firms. These two gentlemen were very passionate about the analysis. I respect their commitment and brilliance. Thanks dear brothers. I will use this document to see that in the next analysis our firm is included and that there is improvement in our statistics compared to when we joined BKR. Perhaps, I need to let you know that we joined in February 2014. I have gained so much within this short time by attending the meeting in Istanbul and Stellenbosch.

I was pleasantly surprised when a certificate was presented to our company, Adebola Sobanjo and Company, in Istanbul. I have gladly presented the certificate to my team. There was joy and hope was high in our firm after reporting about the Istanbul meeting and the presentation of the certificate.


Equally, it was impressive to see BKR adding a new Chinese member to the association; this time in Chengdu.


On the social aspect of the meeting you cannot believe the level of satisfaction I derived from varied social events. The tours were well coordinated and the sites well chosen. I went with the group to the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. At the palace I purchased a book that many people have been asking me to allow them read. I am pleased with the book which relates to sites in the Bible that are in Turkey.  My wife has taken the book away from me which makes me feel perhaps, I should have bought two or more copies, but I was thinking of excess luggage.

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The Gala Dinner was another social event of great value. There was good food and music. I was not expecting the skills displayed by my colleagues when it came to the dancing time. People danced and demonstrated their skills. I was only a spectator because I don’t know how to dance but I enjoyed watching men and women display their skills in dancing. Sometimes, I was thinking of the ladies if it is possible for them to fall as they turn around, swinging their body, bending and turning. Nobody fell and the evening was enjoyable.

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Presentations on the night were given to parting EMEA Chair, Lourens Oosthuizen, past Asia Pacific Chair, Peter Chong (Kuala Lumpur), and also to Stephen Hamlet from Lourens to express thanks for his assistance throughout the last two years.
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The boat ride was another enjoyable experience. We had a lunch on the boat and went through the length of Bosphorus using the boat named Princess. It was a nice time on the boat. I took many pictures which are part of my treasured BKR album.
You may want to know what I gained from attending the BKR meeting at Istanbul. I will not hesitate to state my gains as follows:(i)     Learning – from colleagues.

(ii)    Networking – I have friends from various parts of the world now. Some of them have sent me mails after the meeting.

(iii)   Fun – Social events

(iv)   Benchmark for firm – Use of statistical Analysis

(v)    Closer Relationship with BKR – I have known the Executive Directors, Chairmen, Presenters, etc.

(vi)   Knowledge Enhancement – Various opportunities were presented throughout the meetings.

(vii)  Opportunity to be part of a winning team – BKR membership is a winning opportunity
I write this piece with excitement, joy, confidence and hope of a better future for me, my firm, BKR International and its members.

hakan  minister-presentation
BKR would also like to thank the Minister of Development, Cevdet Yilmaz (Ankara) of the Turkish Government for speaking at our special event, as well as Bora Topaloglu (Ankara) – Head of Inspection & Oversight, Accounting & Auditing Standards Authority of Turkey.

Additionally, many thanks go to our hosts, Hakan and Kursat Sahin of Isik Yeminli Mali Musavirlik ve Bagimsiz Denetim A.S and our official photographer throughout – Michael Walker(Sydney).


All presentations from the meeting can be found in the Members Area: HERE

Photos can be located on the Worldwide site: HERE


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