- Tiffany Beck CA had gone back to work in her family’s aquatic centre business for six months in 2013, but it had turned into a five-year stint.
- Mentor Brad Goodman CA helped her gain clarity about the professional and emotional aspects of exiting the family business.
- Applications for the CA ANZ Mentor Exchange program are open between July and August each year, with the program commencing in October.
As told to Susan Muldowney
Photo Graham Jepson
Mentee: Tiffany Beck CA
General manager, Gai Waterhouse Racing
I’ve always had an interest in numbers. I grew up watching my parents run a family business and I saw the importance of the financials. Accounting seemed so fundamental to a business and I thought it could take me anywhere. Being a chartered accountant has also taught me to be more analytical.
My parents bought an aquatic centre back in 1994 and I used to work there while I was at school. They went on to run two centres and I joined as a consultant in 2013 to help them sell one arm of the business. What was supposed to be a six-month role turned into a five-year job of running the show.
Even though I loved working in the family business, I reached a point last year where I was worried I might be limiting my potential if I stayed much longer. I needed to branch out, but I was emotionally involved. I decided that I needed some impartial advice, and then the next day I got an email about CA ANZ’s Mentor Exchange program. I thought, ‘Wow, this is meant to be’.
I wanted a mentor who had been in a similar situation and could give me advice about exiting a family business. When I was teamed up with Brad, I initially said I didn’t want him! He was a CFO and I assumed he’d have no idea of what it’s like to run a [family] business and that he wouldn’t understand my emotional attachment.
When Brad heard that I didn’t want him as a mentor, he asked me to call. I explained that I didn’t think he’d be suitable due to my specific circumstances, but when he started speaking he completely nailed where I was coming from and what I needed. I knew he was the one to help me.
We started meeting twice a month and there were also phone calls and emails here and there. Brad helped me to gain clarity. When you are struggling with an emotional decision, you often have the answer, but you just can’t quite see it because your judgement is clouded.
Brad helped me to define my goal and to work out the steps to take to get there. He suggested that I rewrite my LinkedIn profile and my résumé. He also introduced me to people who he thought could assist me. The mentor program really helped me to leverage my own network and meet people through Brad’s network.
I really valued the way Brad listened to me. He’d let me rant and then he’d pull out all the key points that I was saying. There was no judgement; he laid the facts on the table, which is really valuable when you are navigating an emotional decision.
After I got my résumé and my LinkedIn profile in shape, I was approached by a recruiter for the general manager role at Gai Waterhouse Racing. I joined the business in October last year and I look after finance, HR, marketing and all other aspects of the business. I ensure the company runs smoothly so Gai and [training partner] Adrian Bott can focus on training the horses.
It was quite difficult to tell my parents I was leaving the family business. Brad helped me with that, too. He told me to keep things simple and that the business would keep running without me.
Brad likes to bring up the fact that I initially didn’t want him as a mentor. I’m glad I changed my mind.
“When you are struggling with an emotional decision, you often have the answer, but you just can’t quite see it…”
Mentor: Brad Goodman CA
CFO, City Freeholds
Brad Goodman CA and Tiffany Beck CA
I joined Mentor Exchange a couple of years ago, so I had experience as a mentor before meeting Tiffany last year. Looking back on my career, if I’d had an independent mentor, it may have made a difference to some of the decisions I’d made – or not made – along the way.
I migrated to Sydney from South Africa in 2003 and have worked in real estate businesses, renewable energy and start-ups. The first company I joined in Australia was a small family-run office of about five people and it grew to more than 50 employees during my six years as CFO. I’m now CFO of City Freeholds, a family office mostly invested in real estate.
I received an email last year to tell me that I’d been matched with a mentee. Then, a couple of days later, I got a call to say that the person I’d been matched with didn’t think I was right for her. I thought this was interesting and asked that she give me a call anyway.
When Tiffany called me, we spoke for about 20 minutes and she told me why she didn’t think I was the right mentor for her. I listened, then told her I understood that being in her own family’s business was an emotional attachment. The emotional decision she had to make was far more complex than one that was purely career or commercially based.
I understood she felt a sense of guilt about leaving the business. She was also confused about what else she could do and what value she could add to other businesses. Tiffany had been in the role for most of her career and been involved in the business in some way for most of her life. By the end of that first conversation, she decided to go ahead with me as her mentor.
“I understood she felt a sense of guilt about leaving the business.”
From our first face-to-face meeting, I knew that Tiffany was an intelligent person who had value to add in the right organisation and job. Becoming a chartered accountant helps you to generate knowledge and a solid base skillset.
I asked her to show me her résumé and to write down all that she had achieved in her job, because it was quite difficult for her to see how she could add value to another business. I also asked her to write down her passions and her goals and what she wanted to get out of the mentoring program.
Tiffany’s LinkedIn profile was very basic, so we worked on that. I highlighted her job responsibilities that are valuable to all organisations. I think it helped her to see her core skillset and that it was relevant to a range of businesses outside of her own.
It took a while for Tiffany to let her parents know she was leaving the family business and to finally commence her search for a new career, with confidence. This was a major weight lifted off her shoulders.
Tiffany called to say that she had a job interview, but she couldn’t tell me the company as it was confidential. But she stayed in contact with me through the process and I was thrilled for her when she got the job.
I’m still in contact with Tiffany. Being her mentor has given me a sense of achievement because I feel that I was able to help her gain clarity, confidence and start her desired career path.
Apply for CA ANZ Mentor Exchange
CA ANZ Mentor Exchange connects our experienced members with early to mid-career CAs.
As a mentor, you have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on another member’s career. Mentees build professional connections and benefit from an experienced member’s knowledge and insights.
All full members residing in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore are eligible to apply. You are expected to meet four times over six months. Our program is offered face-to-face for those who can attend our CA ANZ offices and program events, while there is also a virtual program for those connecting remotely.
All mentors and mentees are provided with a guide, action plan and relevant supporting materials. Mentors also have access to a ‘Mentor for the mentor’ service.
Applications are open between July and mid-August, with the program commencing in October. Find out more about the CA ANZ Mentor Exchange program at bit.ly/mentor-exchange