How Ausgrid’s Michael Bradburn CA went from audit to CFO
Want to be a CFO? Do your apprenticeship, stay focused and find mentors, advises Ausgrid finance boss Michael Bradburn CA.
- Like many senior leaders in corporate finance, Ausgrid CFO Michael Bradburn CA was first employed in audit, then worked his way up the ladder.
- He advises other CAs to set a career goal, then map out the steps to reach that goal.
- Being involved in professional bodies to broaden networks is also useful.
By Sally Rose
The 2018 CA ANZ Remuneration Survey shows that the lowest paid segment for fully qualified accountants across both Australia and New Zealand is audit. But establishing strong career foundations in audit is widely considered one of the best ways for up and coming finance leaders to develop an intimate understanding of the anatomy of how companies succeed or fail.
It’s no surprise that audit has served as the training ground for many of the most senior people in the corporate finance sector, including Ausgrid chief financial officer Michael Bradburn CA.
“I started as an auditor at Arthur Andersen in 1995, worked there for seven years and really enjoyed it,” he says. “Audit provides an important foundation and diverse experience. I highly recommend it.”
“Work out where you want to be and then work backwards from that goal, and methodically work through the steps to get there.”
Target excellent coaches and learn from them
A “key fork in the road” came when Bradburn decided to move on from audit and take his first commercial role as a corporate accounting manager with pallets and container maker Brambles. “I chose a company and role that would allow me to learn from some excellent coaches,” he says.
After two years at Brambles, Bradburn methodically moved up the corporate finance ranks with roles at stevedores Patrick, property developer Mirvac, and rail and ports operator Asciano – before landing his first CFO role at Brisbane Airport Corporation in 2013. He is now in his third CFO role, having also held the title at Shell petrol station operator Viva Energy.
Getting involved in professional bodies has also helped broaden his network. As well as being a CA ANZ member, he is an active member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and Financial Executives Institute (FEI).
Map the path towards your goal
Bradburn’s advice for young CAs is: “Know your strengths and focus on them. Work out where you want to be and then work backwards from that goal, and methodically work through the steps to get there.”
It’s an approach that is still relevant for CAs in later career stages.
“The advice I would give to an aspiring CFO is to do your apprenticeship, take the time to learn the craft,” says Bradburn. “Never stop learning and, most of all, be passionate about what you do.”
And a good attitude is crucial. “The advice I give people is to show up to work every day and get the best out of yourself. Always try and lift yourself to a new standard.”
It’s advice he takes himself, noting that giving back is part of being a good leader.
“What I enjoy about being a CFO is that I am now in a position to give back. It is a privilege to be able to contribute to others’ careers,” Bradburn says.
“The things I am most proud of in my career all involve the impact I have had on people, both at work and through all of the people I have mentored over the years.”