What is your background?
I have a Bachelor of Business majoring in Accounting. I took a graduate role in the audit division of a major global accounting firm straight out of university. I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to move to the corporate recovery division before commencing. From pretty early on, I knew I wanted to be a partner and my career would be in a professional services firm. Since then, 23 of my nearly 27 years of working have been in professional services specialising in insolvency and restructuring.
What is your role about?
There is no “average” day in my job but the unpredictability is one of the things I enjoy the most. However, as you progress, you need to balance the demands of client matters with “running a business” which means dealing with administration, staffing and business development.
Can you give an example of a type of engagement you were recently working on?
I have recently been engaged as an expert witness on behalf of another liquidator to provide an opinion on solvency legal proceedings. The engagement involved the preparation of a solvency report, conferring with the other expert witness and giving evidence before the Court.
Did you always know you wanted to work in this field?
At university, working in insolvency/restructuring was never a consideration as the big accounting firms really only hired graduates to fill roles in audit or tax. As I mentioned above, I was given the opportunity to transfer before I even started and have never regretted it. I was encouraged to make the change by someone who would eventually become my first mentor – she told me that no two days would ever be the same and I would get experiences that I wouldn’t imagine getting in any other field – and she was absolutely right!
What is most rewarding about your job?
Getting the ‘win’ is always satisfying, whether it’s a legal case or a sale that sees money going back to creditors. That is especially true when it’s taken time, or you’ve come up against an uncommercial party that isn’t willing to negotiate. In what we do, a simple “thank-you” from a client for putting up a good fight or getting money back to creditors is also very rewarding.
Overall, there have been many successes and some setbacks along the way but the first time you sign a letter as an appointee is a pretty memorable moment.
What was a challenge?
I think being a woman in a male-dominated arena is always a challenge – especially when it is largely relationship based and it at times feels like it will always be that way. Part of the challenge is dealing with this but still being authentic, i.e. work with “the boys” and earning their respect as an equal rather than trying to be something you are not.
One piece of advice that you would give women/female students who want to work in professional services?
Never assume there is a glass ceiling – if you don’t think it exists it most likely won’t. It really is up to you whether you allow assumed limitations to hold you back. I have always worked on the basis that if the job required me to do something to succeed at a certain level, I wouldn’t limit what I was capable of because the job required something less than I could accomplish.
While no one is indispensable, you come very close if in doing your job you make your boss’ life easier!
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