Date posted: 11/02/2019 10 min read

Chevron’s Rhys Lavis and Shaun Luk win CA ANZ Indigenous scholarships

Perth-based Rhys Lavis and Shaun Luk are forging their accounting careers through Chevron and CA ANZ.

In Brief

  • The CA ANZ scholarship, valued at A$10,000, is open to those with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage who show potential to be future leaders in the community.
  • Rhys Lavis was the first in his family to attend university, and Shaun Luk previously trained as a pastry chef.
  • Financial support aside, Lavis and Luk believe the study networks and educational support are a valuable aspect of the program.

Story Meredith Booth and Carolyn Boyd

Photo Evan Martin

Whadjuk man Rhys Lavis, 30, wants to show his four younger brothers and five younger sisters the possibilities created by further education and hard work.

Identifying with the Noongar people of south-west Western Australia, Lavis is a 2014 business graduate from Edith Cowan University. He is currently working on his chartered accountant qualification with energy company Chevron Australia in Perth alongside fellow Western Australian Shaun Luk. The pair are the inaugural recipients of the CA ANZ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship.

No stranger to forging his own path, Lavis was the first in his large family to attend university, and he believes there needs to be more Indigenous role models.

“I have to try to be a good role model and let them know what’s out there – not just accounting and finance – but try to let them know if they want to go through high school, TAFE or university, they can do whatever they want to do. They can smash it,” he says. “Anything that helps for the education, support, and career development for the young guys coming through is really important.” 

“Anything that helps for the education, support, and career development for the young guys coming through is really important.”
Rhys Lavis, Chevron

Scholarship covers CA Program and membership costs

Lavis hopes to become a CA by the end of 2019, with the scholarship covering the costs of the CA Program, CA Study Masterclass and provisional membership valued at A$10,000.

He has worked with Chevron since his second-last year at university in 2013, progressing from a part-time Aboriginal Cadetship, through six-monthly team rotations, to a full-time position after graduation.

He is now a project accountant in Chevron’s Perth office, working on Chevron’s Gorgon Stage Two natural gas initiative.

Lavis says he is happy to be on the project finance and accounting team, coming back to the same group where he started his first cadet rotation.

“I love being close to the work being done and dealing with engineers and the project crew,” he says

While the financial support that comes with the CA ANZ scholarship has been very helpful, by far the most valuable part of the program has been the new networks it has opened up and access to extra educational support, says Lavis.

“Through the Indigenous scholarships, I now have access to the CA Program masterclasses. And that has put me in touch with a whole bunch of other young people going through the same thing. That is one of the most helpful things. Having that network,’’ he says.

From pastry chef to accountant

One of the other young accountants in that study network is fellow 2018 CA ANZ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship winner, former Chevron cadet Shaun Luk, a Yamatji man.

Luk, 34, got his start at Chevron through a summer cadetship in 2015. He has now been working full-time as an accountant in Chevron’s Perth office since November 2017.

Originally from Geraldton WA, Luk first trained as a patisserie chef at Le Cordon Bleu London and spent time living and working overseas. But in 2014 he returned to Australia and enrolled in a commerce degree at the University of Melbourne.

Becoming a chartered accountant is a big change, and far from the path he imagined as a schoolboy.

“In Geraldton, you generally either become a cray fisherman or a wheat farmer,” he says, and acknowledges his parents’ support in enabling him to move to London and study for his first trade.

Luk says he “loved” his first career, but with its arduous physical demands, long hours, and limited earning opportunities he came to the conclusion that a change was in order to secure a better lifestyle in the future.

“I was more interested in how much the restaurants and hotels were going to make out of what I was creating, rather than creating it for them. So I thought, accounting and finance, I’m obviously interested in that,” he says.

“I find oil and gas finance rewarding, just in a different way to being a patisserie chef… I can see a lot more potential to grow my knowledge.”
Shaun Luk, Chevron

Gaining a CA designation to strengthen opportunities

Luk completed his Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in accounting and finance, at the University of Melbourne in 2017.

And he enjoys his new line of work more than he ever expected. “It’s a real challenge and makes my brain think in different ways that it didn’t before,” he says.

The switch has energised his hunger for knowledge and to take on further career development. “The next step is to get my CA,” he says.

Luk now works in Chevron’s finance optimisation team, evolving his digital technology knowledge as he helps make the company’s finance systems more efficient.

“I find oil and gas finance rewarding, just in a different way to being a patisserie chef… I can see a lot more potential to grow my knowledge.”

Like Lavis, he hopes to continue with Chevron, armed with an internationally recognised CA qualification to strengthen his opportunities.

Both graduates actively contribute to their employer’s diversity agenda by being part of a Chevron employee network called Boola Moort.

“It raises cultural awareness throughout the business unit and facilitates learning about Aboriginal culture and people,’’ Luk says.

Setting up a workforce for success

Shaun Luk and Rhys Lavis Shaun Luk (left) and Rhys Lavis

Lavis and Luk credit Indigenous Accountants Australia’s Richard Hurst and their previous supervisor, Melissa Grove CA, Chevron senior joint venture production and revenue accountant, for the support that has been critical to their success in the CA Program so far.

Grove, who mentors both Lavis and Luk, says Chevron is committed to fostering Australia’s next generation of big thinkers.

“To set up our future workforce for success, training and development programs such as the CA Program need to be innovative and agile to respond to the fast-changing world we live in,’’ says Groves.

“The types of jobs and skills we need in the future will be different to what we require today. It is important for the CA training program to adapt to these changing trends to meet tomorrow’s opportunities.”

Chevron’s inclusive environment means the company values a diversity of talents, experiences and ideas, she says.

“As a CA mentor, I took the opportunity to learn from my mentees – their diversity of thought helped me become more self-aware and improved my leadership skills,” she says.

“The most rewarding part of being involved in the CA training program is supporting the growth and development of young professionals, the leaders of tomorrow.

“I believe if we provide them with the best possible foundation, they will succeed in the future.”

How to apply for the scholarships

CA ANZ named its first two annual scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander accounting graduates on 1 March 2018. Valued at up to A$10,000, the scholarship meets the costs to attain chartered accountant status and membership, including the CA Program and CA Study Masterclass support program.

Applications open in 2019 for people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage who have completed a Chartered Accountants ANZ accredited degree and meet academic and community requirements. Successful recipients are considered future leaders in their profession and Indigenous Australia.

This year’s selection panel members are Mark Rice, CA ANZ group executive member engagement; Matthew Lancaster, Indigenous Accountants Australia relationship manager – Indigenous strategies; and project director Mark Jones.

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