Date posted: 06/02/2020 5 min read

CAs in public sector roles: Emily Hodgson CA

ASIC CFO Emily Hodgson CA swapped a Big Four job for a public sector role 17 years ago, and says the stereotypes don’t apply.

In Brief

  • Emily Hodgson CA had been a promising young auditor at KPMG when an interest in forensic accounting tempted her to apply for an ASIC job.
  • She says the public sector’s commitment to flexible working makes for an easier work-life balance.
  • A constant challenge in the public sector is delivering effective regulatory outcomes while staying within budgetary limits.

By Jessica Mudditt

Emily Hodgson CA was a promising young auditor at KPMG when a job advertisement for a role at Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) caught her eye. She loved her current job but found herself rereading the job spec, which intrigued her. The advertised role was in ASIC’s enforcement secretariat. She applied for the position, and got it.

“I came across to ASIC 17 years ago – but not because I wasn’t enjoying my work at KPMG,” she says. “It was because my interests shifted from auditing to forensic accounting. I was initially drawn more to the role than to the organisation, as the role involved working with investigators,” Hodgson says.

Public service stereotypes don’t apply

The change in direction confounded her peers, who kidded her about what life was like in the public sector. But the jokes, Hodgson says, were based on outdated assumptions.

“When I started working at ASIC, people would ask me if I worked with a lot of cardigan wearers sporting knee-high socks. Obviously, the cardigan was used as a metaphor to represent the speed of the public service. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Across the public sector and at ASIC in particular, the individuals I work with are every bit as good and capable as those I’ve seen in the private sector. They are dedicated, smart, hardworking and, most importantly, they’ve got purpose.”

Flexible working and a variety of roles

Hodgson spent seven years in ASIC’s enforcement secretariat, which she eventually co-managed in New South Wales. She then became a senior executive specialist in corporate services and, two years later, had the same role in the strategic funding review department. She was appointed as ASIC’s chief financial officer in December 2011.

“The opportunity to have multiple careers within one organisation is amazing. Another thing that’s invaluable is the genuine commitment to flexible working arrangements, and the ability it gives you to have a good work-life balance. I have three children and am in a senior role, so flexibility is really important to me.”

“The opportunity to have multiple careers within one organisation is amazing.”
Emily Hodgson CA

She says her biggest challenge is striking the balance between budgetary limits and effective regulatory outcomes.

“It’s a challenge for everybody, but probably more so in the public service. You’ve got a budget that you have to work with to deliver services in an ever-changing environment and in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. But you’re truly involved in shaping the future at different levels, and that’s really exciting.”

A job with real purpose

Hodgson unequivocally encourages others to consider a career in the public service.

“We’ve got a fantastic rotating graduate program that has been voted one of the Australia’s best. It’s a great way to get a feel for the organisation and what we do in our work as a regulator.”

Hodgson is glad she didn’t listen to the naysayers 17 years ago. “I have never looked back on the choices I have made throughout my career and I honestly wouldn’t do anything differently.”

Read more:

CAs in public sector roles: Peter Koit FCA

Working at the Australian Taxation Office, your decisions can have a big impact, says Assistant Commissioner Peter Koit FCA.

Read more

CAs in public sector roles: Joyce Low CA

Joyce Low FCA, NSW Public Service Commission CFO, says a public sector finance role is about more than doing the accounts.

Read More