Date posted: 17/11/2020 5 min read

Business smarts for a NFP: Caleb Firth CA and Natasha Harvey FCA

Caleb Firth CA is making his career in a not-for-profit, but he’s happy to borrow a few commercial sector moves.

In Brief

  • Natasha Harvey FCA’s experience on not-for-profit boards helped her connect with mentee Caleb Firth CA who works at a not-for-profit.
  • Harvey found it interesting to gain Firth’s perspective on some of the issues facing not-for-profits.
  • Firth says that Harvey challenged his thinking and helped him develop his professional leadership with practical guidance.

As told to Susan Muldowney
Photo: Ruth Gilmour

Caleb Firth CA
Finance manager, Activate Faith Community Trust, Hamilton

I used to pretend to own businesses and to buy and sell property with my brothers as we were growing up. So it was no surprise to my family when I got my first job after school at a bank in Hamilton.

“I used to pretend to own businesses and to buy and sell property with my brothers as we were growing up.”
Caleb Firth CA

After working in the branch for a while, I wanted to gain a tertiary qualification in the area of business – specifically in accounting and management. And because of my Christian values, I very much wanted to use my love of accounting and business to help charities excel at what they do best.

I started working for the Activate Faith Community in 2011, a group of charitable organisations based in Hamilton. We have 11 entities in the group, including a large church, a tertiary institute, a community services trust and the oldest medical practice in Hamilton. It was while working here that I completed the CA Program in 2018.

From my first meeting with Natasha, it was clear she was a very talented and driven person who excelled at networking, strategising and problem-solving. She has wide-ranging experience, including working in large corporates such as Fonterra, chartered accounting firms, the mining and metals industry, as well as extensive involvement in governance for charitable entities.

She challenged my thinking and helped me develop my professional leadership skills with practical guidance. I was able to put some really great leadership techniques into practice with my finance team and these have contributed to a stronger team culture with improved communication and direction. One example is daily stand-up meetings and a regular weekly meeting with my team. The daily stand-ups were especially helpful while we were working remotely.

When talking about financial reporting across our group, Natasha challenged me with her phrase of “what, so what and now what”. This is a practical question that I’ve taken with me and now regularly ask myself.

I’m also grateful for her willingness to help me grow my network by connecting me with other CAs in Hamilton who have valuable expertise in the charitable sector. This is an area I wanted to develop in and Natasha certainly helped me with this.

I admire Natasha’s warm, passionate and motivated attitude. She is active in her community and seeks every opportunity to bring change to the world around her, whether that’s in business or the community groups she serves.

Natasha Harvey FCA and Caleb Firth CAPicture: Natasha Harvey FCA and Caleb Firth CA.

Natasha Harvey FCA
General manager finance and administration, Blue Pacific Minerals, Waikato

I became an accountant because I really enjoyed the subject at school. It was something I was good at. I still enjoy it, probably more so now, because of the way I can help businesses make good decisions by providing clear information and interpreting good data.

I’ve enjoyed working in the commercial space and, outside of that, I am on some not-for-profit boards. That’s probably one of the things that has helped Caleb and I to connect.

Caleb and I meet once a month and, without planning our catch-ups too much, we end up having some really great conversations. He is very organised and driven, and he brings his reflections from the last session with him and we go from there.

It was really interesting for me to gain Caleb’s perspective on some of the issues facing NFPs. He’s a serious young individual who knows exactly where he’s going. You get that impression from him straight away. When I first met him I thought, ‘what can I offer this person who’s already so accomplished?’ He came pretty well prepared to our first meeting and knew exactly what he wanted to get out of the program.

I was part of a mentoring program with CA ANZ about six years ago, and I’m still in touch with my mentor. I think having a mentor can help you gain a broader perspective on your career, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to be part of the program this time.

Caleb is building his career and he’s reminded me of the energy I had when I was doing that, as well as the energy I need to have as I continue to do so.

I’m constantly amazed at how talented this next generation of accountants is. It makes me ask, ‘what have I been doing with my life?’ It’s so positive for the future of our profession.

“I’m constantly amazed at how talented this next generation of accountants is. It makes me ask myself, ‘what have I been doing with my life?’
Natasha Harvey FCA

Natasha Harvey FCA and Caleb Firth CAPicture: Natasha Harvey FCA and Caleb Firth CA,

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