Date posted: 26/10/2022 5 min read

Meet the two winners of the Women in Finance and Economics Scholarship

Zeanda Betar and Aneela Iram tell Acuity about their journey to become CAs and why the Women in Finance and Economics Scholarship means so much to them.

In Brief

  • Zeanda Betar and Aneela Iram are the recipients of two CA ANZ-funded Women in Finance and Economics Scholarship for 2022.
  • Betar is planning to use the scholarship to land a more senior role at the Australian Taxation Office, where she has worked since 2013.
  • The scholarship means Iram is no longer reliant on part-time employment to fund her CA Program, giving her more time to study and prepare for a graduate role.

Two mothers, Zeanda Betar and Aneela Iram, now have the financial backing to complete their CA Programs and fuel their career prospects, thanks to the Women in Finance and Economics Scholarship program.

The scholarship program is administered by the Financial Planning Association of Australia as part of the Australian Federal Government’s Women’s Leadership and Development Program. CA ANZ provided funding for two CA program scholarships.

With the scholarship, Betar and Iram can complete the CA Program, attend masterclasses and secure provisional membership free of fees, up to a value of A$10,000 each.

Acuity spoke to the winners to hear about the challenges they faced in completing the CA program and how they plan to use the scholarship in their careers.

Senior manager material

When Betar’s children heard their mother had been awarded a CA ANZ Women in Finance and Economics Scholarship, they asked if cake was going to be a part of the celebration.

“Of course we could have cake,” says the 31 year old. “My children are my biggest drivers and biggest supporters.”

Betar broke free from a domestic violence cycle to forge a successful career with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) while balancing life at home as a single mother of three children, aged 11, six and five years.

Since landing a cadetship with the ATO while studying a commerce degree at Griffith University, Betar has worked in a range of specialist departments and is now a technical leader in an area recovering tax debt from corporate insolvencies.

Betar commenced the CA Program knowing it would be beneficial for her career but uncertain if she had the means to complete it.

“The scholarship allows me to study the rest of the CA program which would have otherwise been financially out of reach. I can focus on the study and not the cost,” Betar tells Acuity.

Her short-term goal is to become a CA and secure a visible senior leadership role in ATO ranks.

A proud Widjabul Wia-bal woman of the Bundjalung Nation, Betar has already performed leadership roles at the ATO as an Indigenous mentor and adviser on workplace and client-facing programs.

“As an Aboriginal woman, I am significantly under-represented in leadership positions and in my accounting and finance field. The scholarship helps to bridge that gap,” she said in her application.

Zeanda Betar

“As an Aboriginal woman, I am significantly under-represented in leadership positions and in my accounting and finance field. The scholarship helps to bridge that gap.”
Zeanda Betar

Longer term, Betar has her sights set on working with researchers at the Griffith Business School to help improve financial and commercial literacy in Indigenous communities. It’s a mission she started serving at the ATO.

“I recently worked on proof of record requirements for Indigenous populations who, due to their remoteness, were denied access to their records as a result,” Betar explains.

"I think learning is and should be part of life. I want to be the best me, to show others they can do it too.”

The pride of Mount Druitt

Aneela IramPictured: Aneela Iram

On finishing her commerce degree at Macquarie University, Iram prioritised being a stay-at-home mother for her now four-year-old daughter over finding an accounting role.

When she decided to reignite her career she found employers wanted someone with accounting experience, something she didn’t have. The fact she resides in Mount Druitt, one of the most disadvantaged areas in Western Sydney, did not help.

“There is a lot of stigma attached to being from this area, and the majority of jobs require more than an hour commute each way,” the 29 year old tells Acuity.

Eager to refresh her accounting knowledge and expand her skills, Iram started her CA Program and funded it with gigs as an Uber Eats driver and administration work for an IT company.

“Being reliant on gigs, I was struggling to pay my fees. It meant constantly worrying about whether I would have sufficient money to continue the program,” she says.

“Securing this scholarship takes the financial pressure off, and enables me to focus more on studying and volunteering to secure employment in the accounting field.”

Iram has no doubt the CA Program will help her gain the technical and soft skills she needs to secure a graduate accountant position, and progress into more senior roles.

Ideally, Iram would like to land a job in Parramatta or the Penrith region, close to home.

Like Betar, home is where Iram finds motivation.

“I want to be a positive role model to my daughter and set an example for her. That we can overcome our disadvantages and develop a career in whatever field we like as long as we work hard for it,” she says.

“I also want to show women in my community that returning to work after raising children is possible, and to not give up on your career aspirations.”

Women in Finance and Economics Scholarship

Through partnering with the Financial Planning Association of Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) is offering a scholarship to support disadvantaged Australian women to complete the CA Program and become a Chartered Accountant.

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