Date posted: 22/06/2017 3 min read

Kristine Vergara's big switch to start-up

In this Q&A Acuity chats with Kristine Vergara CA about the benefits of a CA qualification and her role as head of finance and operations at online media start-up One Big Switch.

In brief

  • Obtaining the chartered accounting (CA) qualification taught Kristine Vergara the technical aspects of accounting.
  • At an online media and technology start-up, data is king.
  • Completing the CA program is only the beginning of a journey. There are many opportunities to become involved.

Photography by Cameron Ramsay / Studio Commercial.

What is your current position and what are your key tasks? 

I am Head of Finance and Operations at One Big Switch, an online media and technology start-up that helps reduce household bills through consumer campaigns and online switching.  

My finance tasks include financial, management, tax, intercompany and board reporting. The operations function consists of compliance, human resource (HR) and customer service. For compliance I prepare quarterly reporting for the risk and compliance committee and for the board of directors.  

For HR I manage employee resourcing to support the company’s strategic goals. For customer service I manage the member relations team in answering queries on membership, technical support, product availability and escalations.  

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A typical day starts with a “stand-up” in the morning with the whole company of 20, including digital marketing, content, technology and commercial. Each person shares their priorities for the day and any dependencies. This sets the tone and tasks for the day. I enjoy the broad nature of my role and the opportunity to work across different teams to make a difference in the business.  

How did your CA qualification help get you there?

My parents migrated to Australia from the Philippines in the 1980s. I was born in Australia and my parents instilled in me the value of education.  

The CA program taught me the value of critical thinking and decision making which I can now apply to any situation I face in my role.

 Prior to my CA qualification I completed a Bachelor of Business (accounting and marketing) at the University of Technology Sydney. I chose accounting as I had experience working in part-time roles for an engineering company and a chartered accounting firm. I had developed a keen interest in understanding the nuts and bolts of businesses.  

After graduation I worked for Deloitte Private in external audit. My first role in commerce was for IMC Financial Markets in their finance division. I then moved across to One Big Switch to have the opportunity to work in a dynamic start-up environment.  

Obtaining the chartered accounting (CA) qualification taught me the technical aspects of accounting. These are important for my current role, as I was hired as the first employee in the finance and operations team, and it was my responsibility to build these functions from the ground up.  

Working for an online media and technology start-up means that data is king. I am continually analysing information and presenting it to the team to help solve business problems and achieve the company’s strategic goals.  

Working in a start-up means that effective communication is required to share insights across the broader team. The CA program helped me to prepare for these scenarios through its integration of technical knowledge and professional skills.  

How does your CA qualification help your ongoing career?

The CA program taught me the value of critical thinking and decision making which I can now apply to any situation I face in my role.  

The CA qualification helps my ongoing career through lifelong learning, particularly to help keep up with best practice, the continual advances in technology, and frequent changes in legislation.

Would you recommend the CA qualification to others?

Yes - the CA qualification opens doors, is well-regarded by employers and gives you access to a professional body that will support you throughout your career.

What advice would you give others about the CA qualification?

Completing the CA program is only the beginning of the journey. There are a multitude of opportunities with which to get involved. Since obtaining the CA qualification I have also become involved in the NSW Young Chartered Accountants Panel, the World Congress of Accounting Program Committee, the CA Mentor Exchange Program and the CA Toastmasters Club. Through these initiatives I have met an amazing network of chartered accountants across various industries.