Date posted: 2/10/2018 8 min read

Rising stars: the partners

In the first of Acuity’s four-part series on rising stars in the world of accounting, we ask partners who have achieved success relatively early in their careers how they did it.

In Brief

  • Sarah Cain has grabbed opportunities and worked around the globe for advisory firm KPMG.
  • Crowe Horwarth auditor Jessica Galvin prefers to meet her regional clients in the field.
  • Dan Teper, M&A adviser and KPMG partner, has been involved in landmark transactions.

By Carolyn Boyd, Claire Scobie and Cameron Cooper

Sarah Cain CA

Partner, KPMG

Sarah Cain joined KPMG’s Melbourne office in 2006, transferring to Sydney 18 months later. Since then she has risen through the ranks, and was made a partner in July 2017. She has a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting from the University of Melbourne. 

Sarah Cain knows the importance of grabbing her opportunities. That ethos has taken her around the world, from a secondment in Canada where she helped rewrite a training manual for KPMG globally, to landing in India with just 10 days’ notice to pilot an audit processing centre on the subcontinent. Both experiences gave Cain important insights into how the different parts of her global employer operate. They also gave her some all-important early exposure to leadership.

Cain grew up in Melbourne – where she recently returned to live – but she spent most of her career in Sydney. Last year she became a partner of KPMG’s Enterprise Audit practice. 

There are so many different opportunities that come up that lead you down different paths that you potentially weren’t expecting
Sarah Cain KPMG partner

Cain works across a broad range of industries, including manufacturing, retail, healthcare and technology, as well as some pro-bono not-for-profit clients. Among her achievements, she led the development of Secrets to success of the S&P/ASX 300+, the first report of its type by KPMG looking into mid-cap listed companies and the factors driving their success. Cain was part of the initiative that saw KPMG open a Greater Western Sydney office in Parramatta, expanding it from a staff of just 40 in 2015 to more than 200 now.

Cain says the best advice she’s had is to take advantage of every chance that appears. “There are so many different opportunities that come up that lead you down different paths that you potentially weren’t expecting,” she says. “Take advantage of those and say ‘yes’, even if you are not sure.”

Rob Bazzani, KPMG Victorian Chairman and National Managing Partner, Enterprise, describes Cain as “proactive, smart and client focused”, seeing in her a real desire to help clients improve their businesses. “She thinks strategically, reads people and situations well, brings strong technical skills to her client work, and is easy to get along with. She also supports her opinions with strong commercial judgement and insights,” he says.

Outside the office, Cain is an avid traveller and hiker and in 2016 tackled the Everest base camp. That didn’t exhaust her taste for global adventure; she still wants to conquer Mt. Kilimanjaro.

– Carolyn Boyd

Jessica Galvin CA

Partner, Audit & Assurance, and Principal at Crowe Horwath Toowoomba

Jessica Galvin CA joined Crowe Horwath in 2004 as a cadet and has spent her career in the firm’s Toowoomba, Brisbane and Armidale offices. She was appointed a full partner in July 2015. She has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of New England.

Growing up on a farm, as a child Jessica Galvin eagerly awaited quarterly visits from the family accountant who ran the rule over the books of her father’s veterinary practice and stayed for dinner and a chat. The tableside discussions inspired her career choice. “I think she got me started on that track when I was in primary school. And I love numbers,” Galvin says.

Those childhood memories still inform her approach to work today. She relishes getting out of her office – “I prefer to be in the trenches with my team” – visiting clients on site and sometimes sharing a drink with them at the pub at the end of an audit. “I love travelling around, meeting my clients and getting to know their businesses,” says Galvin, who counts major food producers Sunny Queen and SunPork among her clients.

Galvin’s proudest achievement has been to help recruit, build and maintain a talented team of accountants who are helping build regional businesses. “I try not to micro-manage my team because they are amazing and they know what they’re doing, but I’m always there if they need help or someone to talk to.”

Juggling parenting duties with the task of growing her firm’s business has been Galvin’s biggest challenge. But she believes it also helped her win a promotion to partner in her early 30s. Now she aims to support others the same way. “I get to work with brilliant people every day and they make coming to work fun.”

– Cameron Cooper

Dan Teper 

M&A adviser and KPMG Partner

Merger and acquisitions adviser Dan Teper became a partner at KPMG Australia in July 2018. He specialises in the financial services and technology, media and telecommunications sectors and has worked on more than 40 transactions from London and the US to Zurich and now Sydney. Originally from the UK, Teper studied economics and accounting at Bristol University.

Teper puts his recent promotion to partner down to two factors: his involvement in landmark transactions, and his work to help his team grow. “I strongly believe you’re as only as good as the people around you,” he says.

David Linke, KPMG national managing partner of deals, tax and legal, says Teper has “the broad suite of skills necessary to be a great partner and an excellent dealmaker”. Linke finds Teper empathetic and a natural leader, and says his strategic mindset suits the transaction market. Most recently, Teper worked on a high-profile transaction for fintech home loan provider Tic:Toc. Before that he led a A$120 million capital raising by MoneyMe, another consumer-lending Australian fintech. 

He recounts the story of a client who told him recently that “in professional services people don’t realise how lucky they are to be surrounded by such talent and resources” and warned him never to take it for granted. That advice has stuck with him, he says: over the past 18 months, “I’ve really focused on developing people.”

KPMG is responding to the rise of AI and machine learning by investing in new capabilities and technologies: bots to automate back-end processes, platform partnerships with the likes of Microsoft and CBA, and new hires, such as execs from Google and senior data scientists. “That’s why I love what I do. You’re always learning and growing as a person both personally and professionally.”

– Claire Scobie

Carolyn Boyd is a journalist with 20 years’ experience and an MBA. Claire Scobie is an award-winning author, business storytelling consultant and journalist. Cameron Cooper is a freelance business journalist who lives in Brisbane.

Listen: KPMG chair walks a tightrope

KPMG Australia chairman Alison Kitchen , who is a senior partner in the Australian firm, has worked her way up through the ranks over 30 years.

Read more