Date posted: 03/08/2022 5 min read

Meet the CA: Karen Draper CA

Karen Draper CA is a director at Wallace Diack Chartered Accountants in Marlborough, New Zealand where she was born and raised, and is a representative on the Local Committee that advises CA ANZ.

In Brief

  • Working in wine manufacturing facilities gave me the opportunity to learn about lean manufacturing principles [value, value stream, flow, pull, and perfection], which I am passionate about.
  • Just as CA Catalyst helps chartered accountants build new skills and explore new markets, my role with Early Adopters Hub helps guide startup founders to deliver better quality products that solve problems for accountants.
  • I am proud to be a CA as it shows determination, high level of skills, personal ethics and professionalism.

As told to Hannah Tattersall

What has producing your own sauvignon blanc and pinot gris – and running an Airbnb – taught you about managing a small business? Has it helped with your client interactions?

Understanding the wine industry has been a lifelong immersive experience. I worked in a contract winery/wine sales brand (as CFO), and New Zealand’s largest wine bottling company (as group accountant) which provided me with an in-depth, total industry perspective. Having our own (organic) vineyards really gives me a pool of knowledge that I can share with grape growing clients. Discussing everything from pruning techniques to yield estimations is part of the job. I understand what is happening in the market and can help clients make informed decisions. And yes... I drive our 1960s Ford 4000 tractor.

Working in wine manufacturing facilities also gave me the opportunity to learn about lean manufacturing principles [value, value stream, flow, pull, and perfection], which I am passionate about. I use these skills when I am researching tech stacks or reviewing a process that can be streamlined by the use of technology. I believe it is something that can be used in any industry, in any role and by anyone and is an incredible, valuable tool and skill.

Karen Draper CAPictured: Karen Draper CA. Image credit: Jim Tannock

“I am proud to be a CA as it shows determination, high level of skills, personal ethics and professionalism.”
Karen Draper CA

I believe you have a keen interest in technology and software?

I absolutely love technology and the ability it has to change and improve a business. Just as CA Catalyst helps chartered accountants build new skills and explore new markets, my role with Early Adopters Hub helps guide startup founders to deliver better quality products that solve problems for accountants. We get to collaborate with other tech-savvy accountants from around the world to help shape the future of the industry. The group is extremely supportive (with great banter) and it’s an excellent opportunity to learn about various emerging technologies.

You’ve just been made partner at Wallace Diack Chartered Accountants. Congratulations. How does that feel?

I am excited and privileged. I was first employed with the firm 15 years ago. After several years with Wallace Diack I decided to broaden my career and pursue an opportunity to work overseas in public practice. I worked in Queensland (the beach lifestyle) and Saskatoon, Canada (ice-fishing at -30° Celsius). Upon my return to New Zealand I worked in the corporate sector with a focus on the wine industry. Having kept in touch with my mentor Tony de Reeper FCA and the team at Wallace Diack it was exciting to be invited back and accept the opportunity as director.

Why did you decide to become a chartered accountant?

It just evolved from studying commerce and I knew the skills you learn can be applied in any industry. I am proud to be a CA as it shows determination, high level of skills, personal ethics and professionalism. It’s great that with technology our staff can now complete the program online. There is a big difference between a CA firm and a bookkeeping outfit and I think we need to really drive the differences home to clients so they understand the value we can add to their business.