Date posted: 23/11/2021 5 min read

One + one: Renee Miller CA and Joe McShanag CA

Renee Miller CA was already a CFO, so mentor Joe McShanag CA showed her there are ways beyond ‘up’ to progress a career.

In Brief

  • CA ANZ’s Mentor Exchange program connects early and mid-career CAs with more experienced CA ANZ members.
  • Already a CFO, Renee Miller CA joined the program as a mentee to gain insight and perspective from an accountant with more experience.
  • Joe McShanag CA knows the value of a good mentor and joined the program to give back to the CA ANZ community.

Renee Miller CA

CFO, IE Company, Melbourne

When I was about eight years old, I wrote down some of the goals I wanted to achieve in life. I still have the book where I wrote them. My career goal was to be an actuary. What kind of eight-year-old even knows what an actuary does! I assume it was because I loved numbers.

I started a Bachelor of Arts [at Monash University] and then branched into banking and finance in my second year of university. I successfully entered a graduate program at ANZ in 2002 and that was my first exposure to accounting. After completing a Master of Practising Accounting [now called Professional Accounting], I studied the CA Program.

I’m a CFO, but I always believe that I can be better at what I do. I’m lucky that I work with a brilliant CEO, COO and chairman, but they’re not accountants. I wanted to connect with an accountant who has more experience than me. That’s why I joined the mentoring program.

Joe and I first met last year via Zoom during Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown. I couldn’t believe that I’d been matched with my ideal mentor. We have a lot in common – we both love skiing, we both have two kids – but I just knew that I could learn a lot from him. He has such a wealth of knowledge and experience, and he really cares about how people are treated.

I’ve received some great advice from Joe. I’d always thought that I should be trying to move up in my career, but I started to wonder if I should be looking at it more broadly. Joe recommended some books to read and suggested I consider joining the Australian Institute of Company Directors

I also wanted to add more value to IE [the digital innovation and experience company where she works], and to ensure that I was carrying out the role of a CFO rather than a financial controller. It was great to get Joe’s insights. I think I have more confidence as a result of being mentored by him.

When I first thought about joining CA ANZ’s Mentor Exchange program, I was tossing up between joining as a mentee or a mentor. Joe has shown me how good you can be as a mentor, so I feel fortunate to have learned that from him, too.

When we met in person for the first time earlier this year, it was like meeting an old friend.

Joe McShanag CA

CEO, Unisource, and director, Investors Central, Melbourne

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I left school, so I focused on getting good marks. I studied a Bachelor of Commerce [at Deakin University], majoring in accounting and law, and then started my career at KPMG before moving over to Pitcher Partners after the demerger.

I joined the CA ANZ mentoring program because I wanted to reconnect with Chartered Accountants ANZ and to give back. I felt I’d gained a lot of relevant experience that might be helpful to another professional. I consider some of my previous bosses to be mentors and I’ve also benefited from formal mentoring when I worked in the banking environment. I know how valuable it can be.

When we first met, Renee told me she’d had a childhood ambition to be an actuary. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a child! My first impression of Renee was that she was very intelligent and experienced. She’s a very positive person who is committed to her family and to continuing to develop her skills for future leadership roles. I really admire how she does it.

I don’t know how the mentor-mentee matching works, but I think they did a great job with us. Renee and I connected very easily and there was no awkwardness in talking about our careers. Renee would email me before our meetings, so we both had an idea of where we wanted our conversation to go.

I think I helped Renee by really listening to her and highlighting her strengths when she was highlighting a problem. I hope I also helped her to grow in confidence and remove some of that self-doubt that we all have in a work environment from time to time. I believe she would bring great value and character to a board role because of her academic and professional experience across a range of industries.

Throughout the mentoring experience with Renee, I gained an appreciation of some of the challenges that a professional colleague experiences while working in a growing and exciting business space. I also had a chance to practise listening. And last but not least, I got to know Renee and now consider her as a friend.

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Get involved with CA ANZ Mentor Exchange

Mentor Exchange allows early and mid-career CAs to tap into the skills and knowledge of our experienced members. Click on the link below for more information about Mentor Exchange, including details about the next program round.

Find out more about Mentor Exchange