Meet the Canberra Raiders tragic: Ray Itaoui CA
This Hayes Knight director once dreamed of being a rugby league star, but now he shares advice to young CAs.
- Ray Itaoui CA’s true love has always been sport, particularly rugby league.
- He gained his CA designation in 2013 and, at 31, became the youngest ever partner at Hayes Knight.
- His advice to budding CAs is to do things your own way and always do the best you can.
I was born in 1985 at Westmead Hospital in Sydney’s west, the son of Lebanese immigrants who escaped a war-torn country and wanted a fresh start. My birth name is Rame (pronounced Ra-me), but after years of it being mispronounced, Rame became just Ray.
I was a kid who loved school. It was my own little getaway. I loved to read and, clearly, I took a liking to numbers. But my true love was sport – anything with a ball, but especially rugby league. I’m a Canberra Raiders tragic and remember their 1994 Grand Final victory vividly.
At high school, I had a penchant for being the class clown. My good grades would keep the teachers onside, and maybe allow me to get away with a little more. But I had a knack for knowing when I was about to cross the line and would pull up just short. (Today, I’m married to a high-school teacher.) My love of sports continued. I captained our senior rugby league team and represented NSW in touch footy and cross country.
I studied civil engineering and commerce at the University of Sydney. I put myself through university with various jobs. I started off as a janitor then moved into sales roles. Eventually I was running a call centre in the evenings with 60 staff – a chaotic but wonderful experience. After graduating in 2008, I took my first full-time accounting role and began my CA studies. Eventually I landed a job at Hayes Knight in Sydney and, at 31, became its youngest ever partner. In between, I married my amazing wife and we welcomed our three wonderful children. It was a busy period.
2020 – 2021
My focus now is on growing the Hayes Knight business, and I am conscious of providing opportunities for the next batch of CAs coming through. Obtaining my CA qualification in 2013 opened up a world of possibilities. I have somewhat reluctantly let go of my dreams of becoming an NRL player, but I still play touch footy.
I coach my son’s footy team and daughter’s soccer team, and try my best not to live vicariously through them.
My advice to budding CAs is to do things your own way. Don’t feel you have to do what everyone else is doing. Your focus should always be on doing the best you can.
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