These individuals work in everything from bluechip, listed companies to tech start-ups, from smaller practices to Big Four firms. Members employed in government and the not-for-profit sector are also represented. Qualities they share include exceptional leadership, innovation and a commitment to the CA ANZ Code of Ethics and Professional Standards.
On top of their 'day jobs' many also make outstanding contributions to their communities. So meet these potential leaders of the future, who are taking our profession in bold new directions.
Khalid Ahmed CA
Career role: CFO, m-View Live Video, Melbourne
Other roles: Public speaker, CA ANZ Speaker Program; volunteer, Melbourne start-up small business community
"I really like to know the why and how and get into the detail."
When he was younger, Khalid Ahmed CA enjoyed taking his toys apart and putting them back together.
These days he does the same with bikes. He brings that same attention to how things work to his role as CFO of m-View Live Video, which provides live streaming video to first responders such as police and paramedics.
M-View's key feature is being able to livestream with low bandwidth, which was critical in supporting Fire and Rescue NSW during the 2019-20 Australian bushfires.
"I really like to know the why and how and get into the detail," says Ahmed. "If I don't have that close understanding, I feel I'm a passenger along for the ride. So I prefer to spend time with the team and do the hard yards with them, whether that's in the warehouse or factory."
Ahmed, who pulls together contract values, tech product roadmaps, strategic pillars and forward financials to support decisions about which innovations to develop, is excited about building a finance team and finance function from scratch.
"I have a real passion for seeing a business grow. Helping drive it is what really excites me about being an accountant."
Andrew Chan CA
Career role: Former vice president, Group Risk Management, PCCW, Hong Kong
Other roles: Overseas Regional Councillor CA ANZ (Hong Kong Group); and Committee Member for Institute of Internal Auditors (Hong Kong Group)
"With the pace that the world is moving today, being adaptable is vital."
Andrew Chan CA's passion is film. So it shouldn't come as a surprise when he nominates one of the film world's legends, the late Bruce Lee, as the person he looks to for leadership.
"He's a very big inspiration for me," says Chan, who recently led a team of 12 risk professionals in managing risk and opportunities across 43 jurisdictions globally. "Not just his kung fu style, but his philosophy, which is all about starting with a blank piece of paper; being willing to learn."
Lee also taught Chan, whose job in risk management was made redundant due to COVID-19, to be like water. "Water can flow, it can crash, and you want to be water, rather than be the stone, so you can always adapt and continue to learn," he explains.
Chan showed Lee-like levels of determination when he moved to Hong Kong in 2013, with only his "global passport" CA designation to back him. After six months, he got a break as a fraud investigator.
"Continuous learning, that's what being a CA is about. That's the great thing about it because there's so much opportunity to learn different things," he says. "And with the pace that the world is moving today, being adaptable is vital."
Stephanie Cooper-Poka CA
Career role: Director of People & Finance, Māori Television, Auckland
Other roles: Member, Māori CFO Network; volunteer CA ANZ speaking program
"Whatever I'm doing in the future, I'm going to be doing for a social purpose."
As one of only a handful of female Māori CFOs in New Zealand, Stephanie Cooper-Poka CA knows all about standing out. She is leading Māori Television through a period of transformation and wants to lay a path for others to follow.
"I don't leap out of bed wanting to balance finances," she says.
"I'm passionate about telling the story behind the numbers and identifying insights."
This interest in looking beyond the numbers means Cooper-Poka often questions the status quo and empowers her team to seek positive change.
"You have to be leading the way in terms of collaboration, particularly when it comes to transforming an organisation," she says.
"We've just got to break barriers and break down some of the thinking and stereotypes around how things should be done."
Humble, despite her success, she cites a Māori whakatauki (proverb): "ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini", meaning the success of an individual is the work of many.
Cooper-Poka is driven to give back to her Māori and Pacific Island communities.
"Whatever I'm doing in the future, I'm going to be doing for a social purpose, to make a difference."
Lee Duffield CA
Career role: General manager, All In Advisory, Adelaide
Other roles: Member, CA SA Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Panel; contributor, CA Catalyst; CA in residence at Stone & Chalk; treasurer, Glengowrie Uniting Netball Club
"My goal is to … push through boundaries and ensure inclusion for all."
Being a voice for those who can't speak for themselves is a passion for Lee Duffield CA. Two years ago, she started All In Advisory with a business partner after working for an old-school, male-led, mid-tier firm.
While specialising in tourism and hospitality industries, her company also works to bring businesses into the modern age with advice on cloud computing.
But that's just her day job. For Duffield, being a leader means working with people to achieve their goals, bring out their best, and thrive.
She's an advocate for equality issues, particularly in the accounting industry. "I think there are issues where females aren't treated equally; there's a pay gap and a lack of female leadership."
Her desire is that her 11-year-old daughter will grow up in a world where gender discrimination isn't something that is a problem, and where there's equality for everyone. To this end, Duffield is a member of the CA SA Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Panel and is also a contributor to CA Catalyst.
"My goal is to lead from the front, push through boundaries and ensure inclusion for all," she says.
Tim Dwyer CA
Career role: Product manager, Microba, Brisbane
Other roles: Member, CA ANZ Queensland Young Chartered Accountants Panel
"There’s that freedom and ability to get things done."
Tim Dwyer CA is "building the future" at Brisbane-based biotech start-up Microba. Not only is Microba a biotech with potentially game-changing intellectual property from University of Queensland research, but as part of a start-up Dwyer says he has the chance to "write my own career path".
"We don't have to deal with a long legacy of issues, and if we want to make something happen we can just do it, so there's that freedom and ability to get things done."
Dwyer's role at Microba is product manager, and while that may sound some distance away from his CA qualification, he sees himself very much as a CA of the future.
"I was at the World Congress of Accountants in 2018 and one thing which really resonated with me was a comment that accountants are the best custodians of data."
This also resonates with his career experience, which moved from audit at Deloitte to four years at Deloitte Digital.
"My passion is technology and digital business and when I look at my career I think my route will be to a chief digital officer," he says.
"Increasingly [chartered accountants] are working in different industries and sectors and using our skills in new ways."
Charlotte Fehon CA
Career role: Analytics manager, HOYTS Group, Sydney
Other roles: Chair, NSW YCA Panel (2020); panel member, NSW YCA (from 2019)
"Interpreting data is going to become more important no matter what industry you are in."
Charlotte Fehon CA's current role combines two of her greatest passions: numbers and movies.
As the analytics manager at the HOYTS Group, Fehon examines data on the performance of films screened across the HOYTS group nationally, and draws insights to help increase audiences and revenue.
"I've always been such a huge movie fan and now my job is to take the numbers and understand patterns of consumer behaviour and how that not only drives the business, but also how we can deliver value back to our customers," she says.
"Interpreting data is going to become more important no matter what industry you are in, so to be at the forefront of that and in some way leading the charge for new directions in the profession is really exciting for me."
Fehon was stood down from her job when Australia's COVID-19 lockdown mandated every cinema in the country close. She dived into learning French and participating in LinkedIn Learning, trying her best to maintain a positive outlook.
She was also busy with her role as chair of the YCA Panel for NSW. "It's an opportunity to be part of change in the profession and make sure its adapting as we prepare for the future," she says.
Scott Kendall CA
Career role: Group finance manager, Hamilton Airport, Waikato
Other roles: Flying Instructor, Sport Aviation Corp
"You can't be frightened of empowering others to be better than you in the end."
Experienced flight instructor Scott Kendall CA is a calming figure in the aviation industry.
Hamilton Airport's group finance manager has piloted the business through extraordinary changes, and his calm and steady approach belies perceptions about age and experience.
"For this role, they wanted someone with 30 years of experience, not someone who was 30 years old," he says. "It was a bit of a leap of faith."
That leap was rewarded and has shifted the company's values. "Our recruitment now focuses on the potential of people, not just their career achievements," Kendall explains. "It's not about the years, it's about the richness of experience they bring."
Kendall's role requires evaluating ideas submitted by the wider team, including scenarios for significant decisions. During the COVID-19 lockdown, he evaluated a range of scenarios looking at the severity of impact on Hamilton Airport's main income streams in the long term to decide the best option for the business to survive.
"You start coaching people into the technical skills they need initially but as the leadership journey evolves, you can't be frightened of empowering others to be better than you in the end," he says.
Chiau Lin Lau CA
Career role: Associate, Monark Property Partners, Melbourne
Other roles: Victorian YCA Panel; Sydney Delegate at Asian Financial Forum, Hong Kong; participant at CFA 73rd Annual Conference (2020); participant at FinovateAsia
"I'd like to be a leader in using new technologies … to deliver better investment decisions."
An advocate for more women in leadership in the finance industry, Chiau Lin Lau CA says her role at property fund Monark, "gives me a purpose to go to work every day".
"I go out to different sites and talk with developers and architects. Being part of creating that vision and seeing it come to fruition makes me really happy about what I do."
Lau, who holds a black belt in the Japanese martial art Aikido, sees herself heading towards a role as a chief investment officer in asset management and wants to help drive diversity and inclusion in the profession.
"I aspire to be a female role model, and part of that is being able to contribute to forums and share leadership knowledge about investing, and I've done that as a delegate at the Asian Financial Forum," she explains.
"Also, I'd like to be a leader in using new technologies, such as AI and machine learning, to deliver better investment decisions."
Lau is the founder of infinancetech.com, where finance professionals can share industry insights.
Annè Lensink CA
Career role: Director, Villa Chartered Accountants & Business Advisors, Whangarei
Other roles: Member, Northland CA ANZ Local Leadership Team (LLT); founder, I Am A Northland Business
"It's very important to give everyone the opportunity to be ambitious."
Great client relationships are a cornerstone of Annè Lensink CA's business; customer care takes priority. When COVID-19 hit, her team picked up their phones.
"[I told the team] I don't care if it's chargeable or not. I want you to go through your client list and call every single one. See how they are and see how we can support them," she says.
Lockdown was a turning point, with many small businesses suffering. Lensink created online business directory "I Am A Northland Business" to promote local business and encourage Northlands people to shop locally. More than 140 businesses are now registered on the site.
Lensink is proud of her hard-working team and emphasises the importance of a flexible, supportive work environment.
"As a leader, it's very important for me to be very supportive of my team and give everyone the opportunity to be ambitious and have the career they want while maintaining a healthy work-life balance," she says.
Michelle Mak CA
Career role: Finance and strategy manager, Deliveroo, London
"You can see the changes you're making. It's tangible, instantaneous."
Working at a "hypergrowth" company that is "always sprinting" sounds exhausting, but Michelle Mak CA says the pace of her role in London at home-delivery service Deliveroo is hugely inspiring – and the job of her dreams.
"Deliveroo has expanded at incredible speed, but the last year has seen unprecedented change, and everyone is now relying on Deliveroo," she explains.
"I'd never worked at a company that moves, and reacts, at such high speed, but it's all about being able to adapt to change."
"I've worked in big, blue-chip companies where you're wrapped in red tape, but here you can think of something right now, a decision will be made, and three hours later you're implementing it."
One example was the way Deliveroo instantly shifted to delivering desperately needed household goods, from pasta to toilet paper, as the pandemic hit.
"Finance can be really dry, but what makes it exciting is the industry you're working in. Working here is inspiring rather than exhausting because of the type of people we hire: everyone is very motivated and you can see the changes you're making. It's tangible, instantaneous.
"That's why I'm so passionate about my job, because I can see the impact I'm having in the world."
Andrew Manto CA
Career role: Head of finance, sonnen Australia, Adelaide
Other roles: Volunteer at Adelaide’s Hutt Street Centre which assists the homeless
"Caring about the individuals who work with you is really important."
Sonnen is a small South Australian company that's taking on the might of global giant Tesla when it comes to making batteries for home and business use, and networking them to create "virtual power plants".
Being a small subsidiary of a large multinational corporation means head of finance Andrew Manto CA has to switch his mindset regularly and manage stakeholders on both sides.
He played a key role in partnering with the South Australian government to deliver 100 batteries to bushfire victims in the Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island.
"When I came in, I was the first person in the finance department and I built it from the ground up," he says. "The ability to do that has been really humbling."
Manto believes leading with your gut, rather than your chin, is the key to getting people to follow you.
"Caring about the individuals who work with you is really important, first and foremost. But what people want from you in terms of leadership is someone who doesn't take too long when there are decisions to be made. So you just have to go with your gut, and take people with you," he explains.
"Having the courage to make a decision is what makes a good leader."
Michelle Maynard CA
Career role: Partner, Carbon Group, Perth
Other roles: President, Ballajura Primary School P&C; board member, Ballajura Primary School
"If I can … help educate people, then I will have made a contribution."
The media profile of accountants has traditionally been older, white and predominantly male. Michelle Maynard CA aimed to change that when she joined Carbon Group.
"I had no profile, no network, no brands and no clients," she says.
Maynard realised people wanted to deal with accountants they knew and trusted so she set about building a brand as a young, female, approachable and down-to-earth accountant – someone people could trust, and media could rely on for solid commentary and advice.
Since then, she has become the go-to accountant for Western Australian media and has the position of in-house finance expert for the Nine Network in Perth.
"I have positioned myself as someone who is young yet is trusted to deliver advice," says Maynard, who believes she can make the world a better place by helping people understand finance.
"So many people start businesses and don't understand the business side," she says.
"This can have massive ramifications on their work and personal life. If I can break things down, present them in layman's terms and help educate people, then I will have made a contribution."
Lisa Mead CA
Career role: Founder and director, Social Currency, Christchurch
Other roles: Volunteer manager of a weekly support group for girls; volunteer 2iC for a Youth Alive Trust holiday program
"I don't feel like I have a job. I feel like I have meaning behind what I do."
Lisa Mead CA's firm, Social Currency, is growing rapidly thanks to a unique promise: donating 10% of its revenue to help at-risk children.
A solo parent, Mead understands the statistics and the socioeconomic challenges many kids face. She decided to quit her corporate job and in 2018 started an accountancy practice dedicated to social change.
While she feared the risks, she was sure clients would choose to join her in doing things differently – and they did. Social Currency has donated more than NZ$60,000 in the past two years and has never needed to advertise for clients.
"People are really starting to recognise the power in having a purpose behind your business, and a mission that has a real social impact," says Mead. "People love to be involved in that."
As Mead plans for Social Currency's growth, she is relishing doing things her own way.
"I don't feel like I have a job. I feel like I have meaning behind what I do," she says, adding "I'd love some competition!"
Joyce Ong CA
Career role: Senior tax specialist – private wealth, Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Melbourne
Other roles: Founder of Tax Nuggets Academy, a free online learning platform for accountants
"I'd like to empower women a lot more. That's what I will be working towards."
The big end of town may be familiar with fiscal and tax governance and oversight, but the private wealth market is very different. For the ATO's Joyce Ong CA, bringing governance to these wealthy individuals is a driving passion.
"We are driving a cultural shift in tax administration, and I think it's a noble cause, too: we're making sure people pay the right amount of tax."
As a leader, Ong says she uses her influence to drive change. "It's all about raising the bar on tax governance. It's a tough journey because it's quite new to privately owned groups," she says.
Ong believes in using technology to teach accountants about tax issues via her website, Tax Nuggets Academy. Using video and images, she gives away her knowledge for free.
"It's easier to get across complex ideas using visual techniques. It's a common approach in the tech industry, but professional services have been very slow to adapt," she says.
Her vision is to mentor women in finance. "I'd like to empower women a lot more. That's what I will be working towards."
Cory Pearson CA
Career role: Financial and management accountant, SCOTT Technology, Dunedin
Other roles: Founder of New to Dunedin Network; member, Otago CA ANZ Local Leadership Team Committee (LLT); volunteer Loan Committee, Nga Tangata Microfinance; mentor, University of Otago Career Development Centre
"We can offer support and help them feel grounded, which gets them to stay."
Moving to a new town is never easy but Cory Pearson CA wants to change that. By founding the New to Dunedin Network, a volunteer organisation providing support, networking and connection opportunities to recent arrivals, he aims to lead from the front in showing how communities can welcome and retain new faces.
Having relocated for his own career multiple times, Pearson knows the challenges for new kids on the block. Like many New Zealand towns and cities, Dunedin runs on informal connections and networks that newcomers struggle to access.
"Places like Dunedin really struggle to retain talent, and especially younger people launching their careers," he says. "We can offer support and help them feel grounded, which gets them to stay."
The New to Dunedin Network gives Pearson an outlet outside of his day job to really make a difference by leveraging local knowledge and connecting like-minded people.
He hopes others will adopt the model to benefit their own communities. The key, he says, is taking action.
Jessie Pill CA
Career role: Commercial manager, BlueScope Steel, Port Kembla, NSW
Other roles: Director, Oak Flats Bowling and Recreation Club; director of finance, Surf Life Saving Illawarra; volunteer surf lifesaver; chair, CA ANZ Illawarra South Coast Region Committee; treasurer (BlueScope), Jawun Alumni Committee
"It's all about supporting your community, and clubs make such a difference."
Six weeks working on secondment in an Indigenous community helping Nganampa Health Council (NHC), near Alice Springs, pushed Jessie Pill CA out of her comfort zone and emphasised to her the importance of using your skills to help build communities.
For Pill, this meant rolling out a new payroll system for NHC. It also meant restocking the dental van, teaching Microsoft Excel skills and riding in an ambulance to visit local clinics. "The experience broadened my mind and made me more adaptable and flexible," she says.
Leadership, for Pill, is about doing what's right, motivating others to achieve a common goal, and to have a vision for the future.
"I am passionate about what I am doing," she says. "It's all about supporting your community, and clubs make such a difference to local communities. My vision is to encourage people to join clubs and make a difference in terms of inclusion and diversity."
Meghal Shah CA
Career role: COO, Action on Poverty, Sydney
Other roles: Vice president, Better Care Delivered (BCD) community care board
"There are many root causes of poverty, and we are agnostic about the treatment."
Being a leader is about magnifying your desired impact on the world, says Meghal Shah CA, COO of non-government organisation Action on Poverty. "It's about harnessing the power of people, systems and resources around you in a way that makes the output far greater than the sum of its parts – and all in a sustainable way," he says.
Action on Poverty has been in operation for 50 years, but Shah says he's brought a start-up nimbleness and focus to the organisation.
"Our overarching goal is to solve poverty," he says. "The treatment is different for every country we operate in; there are many root causes of poverty, and we are agnostic about the treatment."
Shah has a deep desire to create value for the organisations he works for, which "leads me to put a lot of discretionary effort into everything I do," he says.
His vision for the future is to create a world where "for profit" and "non-profit" – labels which often create the illusion they are opposites – can co-exist in harmony. It's a legacy he is starting to build.
"Being a leader is about… creating leaders for the future so your desired impact on the world endures far beyond your tenure at the organisation that you support."
Ramandeep Singh CA
Career role: Management accountant, State Services Commission, Wellington
Other roles: Volunteer, Migrant Rights Network NZ
"If you're in a position to help, you should feel really good about that."
Ramandeep Singh CA's day job and volunteer role often overlap. Working for the State Services Commission, he understands the machinery of government and uses that knowledge to offer guidance to migrants as the Wellington representative of Migrant Rights Network NZ.
"I have to be compassionate, but at the same time explain to them how important the policies are," he says. "I show them how they can work within the regulations set by the government."
Singh also speaks on behalf of those who are unwilling or unable to do so themselves. In July, he led a peaceful rally to raise concerns about migrants trapped overseas due to border closures.
"My main aim in my life is to grow to a chief-level position in a public service department so I can help migrants from a position where policies are made," he says, adding his CA qualification has given him confidence to stand up and lead the way.
"When you get involved in something like this you realise things are bad and people really need help," says Singh.
"If you're in a position to help, you should feel really good about that."
Alan Tse CA
Career role: Co-founder, CFO & head of business ops, Altina Drinks Canberra
Other roles: Board member, Pedal Power
"I want to be a part of shaking up the drinking culture to normalise non-alcoholic drinking."
Alan Tse CA quit his day job as a financial consultant to put all his energy into a start-up.
Seeing a gap in the beverage market, Tse used his adaptive mindset to found Canberra-based Altina Drinks. Altina uses natural Australian ingredients to produce premium non-alcoholic drinks which – like wine – "have a story to tell in the taste".
"During my professional life I realised how much everything revolves around drinking alcohol, and I wanted to create an attractive alternative," he says.
"I really think this sector is going to boom in the next few years, and I want to be a part of shaking up the drinking culture to normalise non-alcoholic drinking in social and corporate settings."
Founded two years ago with a colleague who has a Bachelor of Chemical Biotechnology and a PhD in Plant Biology, Tse started Altina in a garage, but he's expanding rapidly, adding new equipment and hiring extra full-time staff.
One of Tse's goals is to put Altina products in corporate bar fridges and networking events, so that people who want to be part of the party can do so without the hangover.
Xiao Xu CA
Career role: Lecturer, University of NSW (UNSW), School of Risk and Actuarial Studies, Sydney
Other roles: Active volunteer for the Actuaries Institute and various UNSW Business School events, including the Girls in Business Digital Camp
"It's all about supporting your community, and clubs make such a difference."
For Xiao Xu CA, being a leader is all about inspiring the next generation of students – and young women in particular – to become leaders themselves. A lecturer at UNSW Business School, she is looking to both attract and empower girls to take active roles in business.
"As a female lecturer, demonstrating leadership is very important, not just in teaching the students I have now, but in trying to get more young girls from high school to come to UNSW and study business," she says.
"We've just finished our Girls in Business Winter Camp, and that's what it's all about. We have a lot of strong female leaders in our school and we really want to encourage more girls to come in and study the quantitative subjects."
"We just want to show them that the maths, the numbers and figures, are not that difficult. Basically, if we can do it, you can do it."
Xu is also very interested in the world of AI and how it can apply to things such as risk – "I think technology is the future of our generation," she says.