Date posted: 25/08/2017 4 min read

Blazing a trail

From corporate boardrooms to Bell Shakespeare and the PwC leadership team, Anne Loveridge FCA says giving back has been important on her journey.

In Brief

  • Her CA qualification led UK-born Anne Loveridge to a 30-year career at PwC Australia.
  • Her voluntary role at the International Federation of Accountants has given her global influence on the direction of the profession.
  • She urges accountants to start early in their career on the path to partner, executive or board level.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without my CA qualification – quite literally. I was born and educated in the UK and qualified as a chartered accountant while at PwC in the UK. In 1988, I wanted to explore the world and having the CA qualification gave me that opportunity. I transferred to PwC Australia, loved it, and spent 30 years working for them.

After my maternity leave, I became the first ever partner at PwC Australia to work part-time. Roll back the clock to 1997, and there were hardly any female partners in the firm.Today, it’s hard for younger people to even imagine. 

I’m very optimistic about the role that Big Four firms will continue to play. They are a talent factory and very good at identifying trends, then moving with them.They’re also good at knowing what businesses need from external advisors and often financial acumen is critical.

When I decided to leave PwC, I did a lot of self-reflection. I thought about what aspects of work give me the most energy. I like engaging with people and talking through a variety of challenges; I like mental stimulation and looking at macro-economics; and I like practical business challenges rather than technical problem-solving. That all led me to consider a portfolio career, which is what I do now, by serving on several different boards of directors.

‘I’m very optimistic about the role that Big Four firms will continue to play’

In some boardrooms there are moments when financial decisions need to be made, and all eyes turn towards the CA at the table. It’s something you’ve got to be wary of, because all the directors need to be accountable for decisions. There’s an onus on accountants to explain complex issues in simple terms and avoid jargon, to bring others into the discussion.

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Diversity has an impact on the bottom line. In order to prosper, businesses must solve problems and generate new ideas. That comes from having different perspectives and people who think in different ways. Gender is just one aspect of diversity but it’s important and it’s easily measurable. In business, we create targets for many things and targets should be set for workforce diversity too, and we should measure it.

The path to partner, executive or board level can start early in your career. Develop and maintain your technical skills, but focus on soft skills too. Look for opportunities to inspire, lead, influence and motivate others. Find out what you excel at and enjoy and always keep an interest in broader business and economics. 

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I’m gaining a lot by giving back. This year will be my last sitting on the Nominations Committee for the International Federation of Accountants, a voluntary role that’s given me the opportunity to influence the direction of the profession worldwide. I also became chair of the Bell Shakespeare theatre company this year.

Anne Loveridge was in conversation with Acuity publisher Andy McLean.