40 Young Business Leaders 2012
INTHEBLACK 40 Young Business Leaders List 2012
The inaugural INTHEBLACK 40 Young Business Leaders list assembles an impressive range of highly talented individuals across regions and sectors. You will meet entrepreneurs, chief executive officers and many senior executive team members, along with an array of high-energy young professionals who are on the fast track to top decision-making roles.
All possess outstanding leadership abilities and demonstrate game-changing potential in the world of business.
Our 40 Young Business Leaders are a disparate group, comprising measured risk-takers who are forging ahead in the troubled US property market or rising to the challenges of the changing retail environment. While some are exploring new frontiers in finance and telecommunications in the rapidly evolving marketplaces of Asia or developing the nascent insurance markets of central Europe, others are realising ambitions and making a difference by evolving new lines of business for established consulting firms and financial institutions or have set up trailblazing professional practices. Several present new faces of change in the public sector and quite a number have shown extraordinary courage by successfully setting up and growing businesses in globally turbulent economic times.
Importantly, all have proven financial acumen – but, notably, not all are CPAs.
Role models – from Mahatma Gandhi to Steve Jobs and the ubiquitous Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson – frequently provided our young leaders with inspiration, while a significant number detailed the vital guidance of mentors in helping to rapidly advance their careers. In turn, many of those listed are actively contributing to bringing on the next generation of business leaders by mentoring other young professionals. Some were even nominated to appear on the list by admiring mentees.
Due to the wide range of candidates for the list and their varied roles across so many sectors, INTHEBLACK’s 40 Young Business Leaders are listed here as equals. There is prestige in their selection, but not in the order of appearance. The list serves both to showcase their wide-ranging talents, while celebrating their differences.
To be eligible for the list, candidates were required to meet strict criteria, detailing their achievements, challenges and ambitions. They self-nominated or were put forward by colleagues, their bosses, family and friends. The information supplied was evaluated by a distinguished selection panel comprising James Strong, the eminent Australian businessman and Woolworths chairman; John Cahill, CPA Australia President and Chair; Alex Malley, CPA Australia CEO ; and Lynda Dugdale, Deputy Editor of INTHEBLACK.
The selection panel resoundingly praised the high calibre of entries for the inaugural INTHEBLACK 40 Young Business Leaders. Strong commented that the awards were “well designed” as they showcased the standard of young business leaders worldwide.
He applauded CPA Australia and INTHEBLACK for acknowledging the achievements of the leaders in the list. “There was a high standard of candidates. Young talent should be recognised and acknowledged,” Strong says. “I enjoyed reviewing the entries and being involved with such a positive project.”
“For me, judging the inaugural 40 Young Business Leaders was an opportunity to recognise and applaud emerging talent in the world of business,” Malley added. “In judging the candidates for this INTHEBLACK signature edition, I was impressed by the vast array of skilled professionals that entered – picking just 40 candidates from such a remarkable pool of talent was no easy feat.
“What transpired was a list of indisputably impressive people from various industries around the globe, ranging from small public practice entities to large, multinational corporations.
“The 40 Young Business Leaders epitomise what we at CPA Australia strive for: talent on a global scale. It proves just how far passion can take people in this beloved profession of ours.”
Edited by Deborah Tarrant.
37 | Partner | Noble & Associates
Dinesh Aggarwal CPA started his career in public practice in India 15 years ago and, after switching to the commercial sector, became CFO of Samtex Fashions, a publicly listed company with operations across India, the Middle East and US. The experience has stood the now Perth-based accountant in good stead, but did not come without some professional hurdles.
After migrating to Australia in 2008, he opted to move back into public practice no small ask with a lack of local experience. He had to resit his professional exams but has no regrets, he says, as his career trajectory is back on course.
Aggarwal quickly moved from manager to partner within 10 months of joining Noble & Associates last year. Now a specialist in Australian and international taxation, Aggarwal also looks after compliance and business services and has a client base comprising the subsidiaries of many international corporations.
Working in commerce has given him an appreciation for the client’s perspective and an entrepreneurial bent which has helped him in his advisory role in Australia, he says.
34 | Partner | PricewaterhouseCoopers
Ivan Au CPA, who was recently made an assurance partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Hong Kong, has also been recognised as an Audit Methodology Champion and Elite Trainer by his employer. While discreet with client names, he says he successfully led an audit over 30 countries with a 100-strong team.
“I enjoy building morale within teams,” he says and that’s a skill that came in handy during the global financial crisis.
Au also advises on financial restructuring, often working with blue‑chip Hang Seng Index players as well as international retailers. It’s a far cry from Sydney University, where he first worked as an associate lecturer in accounting at the age of 20 before joining PwC.
A seminal moment for Au was watching his parents go through hard times when their business fell victim to market forces it drove home the importance of financial sustainability. These days he helps others sharpen their acumen as Treasurer of the Young Entrepreneur Council of the Kowloon Chamber of Commerce.
37 | CFO Americas | Lend Lease Group
Simon Benson CPA has spent the past two years overseeing all finance functions and a team of 250 for property giant Lend Lease across North America, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. Lend Lease’s Americas division delivers revenues over US$3 billion and has 2000 employees.
Benson started as a project manager for Lend Lease in Sydney more than 13 years ago.
Most recently he has played a key role in bringing together multiple business units into the one Americas division.
A major career driver is being part of a business that has delivered inspiring architectural legacies, among them the World Trade Center Memorial in New York City.
In a previous role Benson provided financial leadership for Actus Lend Lease, which oversees the largest military housing privatisation initiative in the US and is responsible for the residences of more than 40,000 soldiers and their families.
The advice of one of his first Lend Lease bosses still resounds for Benson: It’s more important to concern yourself with the desired outcome for the business than to focus on how you will be perceived as an individual.
38 | Sector Director | Auditor-General’s Office, Victorian Government
One of eight members of the financial audit group executive team and director for the whole-of-government sector within the Victorian Government’s Auditor-General’s Office, Simone Bohan CPA is recognised as a trailblazer in public sector auditing.
She’s responsible for delivering the financial audit of the Premier and Cabinet, Treasury and Finance portfolios.
She also reviews the state’s Estimated Financial Statement published in the annual budget papers and the financial report for the State of Victoria.
Bohan’s work necessitates dealing with complex, sensitive issues in which she has proven adept at pinpointing problems and risks, and working with subject matter experts to identify the right audit options.
An innovator, Bohan produced the first separate, comprehensive report on local government in 2006-07, analysing the financial and control issues facing councils.
The resulting report proved so effective it has been produced annually and inspired similar reports on the results of financial audits in five other sectors.
38 | CFO | Rebel Group
As a board member and CFO of the sports goods retailer with three retail banners Rebel Sport, Amart All Sports and Glue Store Karen Bozic ensured the financial fitness of the A$700 million listed business and led its development and expansion.
Sporting goods is a dynamic part of the retail sector and Bozic, Rebel’s CFO since 2003, has been kept busy with mergers and acquisitions, including its 2007 buyout by Archer Capital and subsequently overseeing Project Fast‑track across the Rebel Sport and Amart All Sports business.
That culminated in the closing of 31 stores and five warehouses, the rebranding of 24 stores and the opening of 17 new ones.
Following the sale of Rebel to Super Retail Group in October last year and helping with the transition, Bozic resigned and has opted to take a few months out before determining her next career move.
Bozic says her greatest career challenge is combining work with motherhood, but finds her parental insights as a mother of three have proved useful in business.
Noting that women in executive positions and on boards are “all too rare”, Bozic aspires to a more operational role running a retail business.
39 | Finance Director | Central Eastern Europe, AVIVA, and Deputy CEO, Aviva Hungary
Stephen Capello CPA has been a key leader of the development of the Central Eastern European operations at one of the world’s top five insurance companies, Aviva. From Budapest he heads 60 finance professionals and leads the company’s investment management in emerging central European markets at a time of big change.
He is credited with bringing vital technical expertise in planning and risk management to the company. In addition, he runs accounting functions in three countries using different accounting, tax and regulatory standards.
Capello started his career at AMP Henderson Global Investors, moving between Australia and the UK, where he worked for several major financial institutions and fixed a systemic failure for a previous employer that dealt with more than a million transactions a month.
He joined Aviva Spain as CFO in 2009, transferring to Hungary in mid-2010, completing his CPA designation at the same time.
Capello believes lack of financial knowledge is one of the biggest reasons individuals fail to manage their financial situations, and he aspires to find a smarter way of managing a company’s financial health. “Too often information is out of date and in today’s environment real-time information is required,” he says.
38 | Head of Commercial – Non‑Alcoholic Sales and Customer Service | Coca-Cola Amatil
David Cuda CPA leads a commercial team of 60 supporting the Coca‑Cola Amatil (CCA) sales function in financial and operational reporting, budgeting, capital analysis, contract negotiations and business planning. He has financial responsibility for A$2.5 billion in revenue and direct line accountability to the MD of sales at the beverage giant.
He joined the CCA graduate program in 1993 and has risen steadily from sales accountant through senior analyst roles to commercial management. He’s renowned for “cutting through the noise to deliver an outcome”, facilitated by his ability to lead teams of people through challenging tasks. These have included heading the company’s GST Pricing Conversion program and creating the first national pricing strategy.
Most recently, changes he’s implemented have saved the company A$10 million in customer service and A$6 million in revenue management, earning Cuda “a big seat at the table to add value and provide input”, says Trudie Harriman, CCA’s national HR manager.
Following CCA’s acquisition of SPCA, Grinders Coffee, Neverfail Water and Pacific Beverages, Cuda realised employees’ connection to the brands was not as strong as it could be. Subsequently he led Project Ambassador, an employee loyalty program, to put this right. Beyond his core role, he also co-chairs the CCA Diversity Council.
38 | Partner | The Practice
Accountant, financial planner, author and radio commentator, Jason Cunningham FCPA has built The Practice, based in Melbourne, from scratch, starting with two team members and turnover of A$60,000 to 40 staff and turnover of A$6 million. An extrovert, he’s widely sought for his expertise in the tax implications of share trading. He also advises small- to medium-sized enterprise owners on tax, business structuring and growth, and budgets, and has many high net worth clients whom he assists with wealth creation strategies.
Cunningham also believes anyone with the capacity to derive an income can be financially successful with a little guidance and put his expertise into a book, Where’s My Money? (Wrightbooks). These days he’s a sought-after speaker for his ability to explain financial concepts in everyday terms.
“Helping people achieve their personal and financial goals not only through The Practice, but also reaching the general public through the media, is my passion,” he says.
39 | SheEO of sphinxx and writer of The SheEO Blog
After spending 16 years in impressive corporate roles, Jen Dalitz set up her own consulting business, sphinxx, to help redress the gender balance for women in leadership. She has become an outspoken commentator and mentor to women, and took out the Edna Ryan Workplace Award for Improving the Working Conditions of Australian Women at the 2010 Telstra Business Women’s Awards the same year she was invited to present to the 2010 Women’s Summit in Malaysia and BBC’s global debate on the advancement of women and the Millennial Goals.
Dalitz advises corporate executive teams on diversity strategies and offers free advice to women and employers through her blog at www.TheSheEO Blog.com, receiving 50,000-plus page views every month.
While quick to point out there’s a tangible impact on the bottom line when women are underutilised, Dalitz also appreciates the real-world obstacles women face.
She says her greatest career challenge has been balancing the growth of her business with becoming a mum three years ago.
33 | Partner | Collins Hume
Peter Fowler CPA was just 25 when he was asked to become a partner at Collins Hume, a Ballina, New South Wales, accounting and business advisory firm where he recently took up the job of spearheading strategic planning and marketing.
He took on these new responsibilities following the retirement of two partners after his own client base had grown 25 per cent in the past financial year.
In his accounting and business advisory capacity, Fowler provides case studies to a network of accountants that outline his often outside-the-square approach to clients’ businesses. He is also a key driver of the Collins Hume International Business Development Conference and takes on many national and international speaking roles.
Recently appointed strategic facilitator of the Northern Rivers Tourism Industry roundtable, which will lead the direction of tourism in the region for the next nine years, the clue to Fowler’s success may lie in a web entry, which notes: “I love my work. I also love my holidays! I encourage my clients to take their lifestyle as seriously as they take their business.” Hear, hear.
37 | Managing Partner | Ferrier Hodgson MH and Executive Partner, Baker Tilly Monteiro Heng
Kuala Lumpur-based Andrew Heng CPA has more than 13 years' experience in corporate restructuring, transaction advisory and corporate recovery. He runs the corporate recovery and finance division for international insolvency firm Ferrier Hodgson in Malaysia and is also the firm’s lead partner for corporate advisory, experienced in mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings.
Until Heng, a former solicitor in the High Court of Malaya, was made managing partner in 2010, the firm was run by individual partners on an assignment-by-assignment basis. Heng formed a management committee, revamped administration and centralised reporting.
Renowned for never knocking back new work, Heng says he drew his inspiration from his father, who set up the firm Monteiro Heng that became Baker Tilly Montiero Heng, one of Malaysia’s largest mid-tier accounting firms. Heng junior was instrumental in forming the alliance with the global network, Baker Tilley International.
He’s also a licensed auditor in Cambodia, where he co-founded Baker Tilly MH Audit Ltd.
36 | Project Accounting Manager | Fortescue Metals
Quentin Hooper CPA says he’s had the rare privilege of participating in a great Australian success story the rapid growth of Western Australia-based mining company Fortescue Metals. He joined the company in its embryonic stage six years ago and today he’s project accounting manager for what is now the world’s fourth-largest iron ore producer.
After working as a trades assistant in mines while at university doing the heavy lifting and working with machinery and several fly-in fly-out accounting jobs with other mining companies, Hooper signed on before the funding of Fortescue’s maiden port, rail and mine iron ore project in the Pilbara and played a pivotal role in ensuring the project’s A$3 billion funding stayed on track.
These days he’s based in the Perth head office and responsible for the finances of the A$8.4 billion major projects group, working closely with engineering partners to provide timely financial information. Hooper is also in charge of corporate governance, ensuring standardisation in processes and practices for the group’s three main projects.
A schoolteacher’s son who spent his high school years in the gold mining city of Kalgoorlie, Hooper has strong people skills which, combined with his business acumen, help him to focus non-accounting project personnel on cost control and appropriate business practices. Working in the field early on showed him the importance of engaging people at all levels, he says.
“I’ve never been the kind of bloke who could say, ‘Hey, I’m the boss, do it this way’,” Hooper says. “I’ve developed what someone called ‘leadership through partnership’ I take people with me.”
36 | General Manager | Economic Regulation, Telekom Malaysia
As head of economic regulation for Telekom Malaysia (TM), Amar Huzaimi CPA has a big role in shaping the future of his country’s telecommunications. Most recently he has worked closely with the company’s internal divisions, regulators and key industry players to develop broadband policy.
“A well-regulated broadband market is expected to spur competition and provide more customer choices,” Huzaimi says. “To me, the big issue is not only whether the market is well regulated, but ensuring regulation is relevant for industry.”
Huzaimi set up the TM Economic Regulation division in 2009 and works with a team that has skills in finance, economics, business administration and engineering.
A graduate of Monash University, he joined TM in 1998, working in billing and revenue management and becoming its deputy chief internal auditor. Huzaimi says dealing with strategic factors that are “mostly outside of our control” makes his job challenging and fun.
“It’s like steering a boat,” he says. “You know where to go but sometimes hit an unpredictable wave, so there’s a lot of manoeuvring.”
30 | Director – Audit Management and Liaison, Financial Policy, Assurance and Banking Branch, ATO Finance | Australian Taxation Office
Cha Jordanoski CPA was barely out of her mid-20s when she played a strategic role in developing a central area for managing some of the Australian Taxation Offices’s (ATO’s) key business relationships in 2009. She was appointed a director in 2010 and leads a team of five accountants.
She ensures the ATO’s financial statements audit runs smoothly and has been recognised with several ATO awards for excellence. Her role is vital to the effective operation of the ATO’s financial management framework. Reporting to the CFO of the ATO’s audit committee and its business line executive, her job has a strong relationship focus, in particular liaising with internal scrutineers who audit ATO processes, and the external financial statements auditors on financial integrity matters.
She delivers internal reports for management as well as public forums, such as parliamentary minutes, Question Time briefings and Senate estimates briefings. She also deals with other key government agencies such as the Australian National Audit Office and Department of Finance and Deregulation.
Her career has fast-tracked no doubt in part because she’s not afraid of confronting challenges, seizing opportunities and working hard. Previously, Jordanoski worked full-time in the private sector in IT and energy while completing a four-year Bachelor of Commerce degree with honours at the University of Canberra.
Now the mother of three-year-old twins, Jordanoski is officially working part-time (that’s “110 per cent” four days a week) with the ATO, although her laptop is never far away.
“Life can be so demanding these days and learning work-life balance is an ongoing pursuit for most of us,” she says. “Making time for what you value most family, friends, outside interests benefits an overall satisfaction and contentment in work and life.”
38 | General Manager, Finance, Commercial Property and head of Unlisted Property Funds | Stockland
At Stockland, Australia’s largest diversified property company, Knight is one of six general managers who, with the CEO, make up the leadership team for commercial property, a division with 500 employees and more than 100 shopping centres, industrial or office buildings across Australia with an annual profit of A$500 million.
He and his team drive the strategic direction of the business and provide financial support. Knight also heads Stockland’s A$640 million unlisted property funds.
Accountancy has taken him to Britain, the US and Japan and across disciplines from audit, transactions, funds management, retail and real estate.
Knight transferred from Arthur Andersen London to Sydney 10 years ago, just before the firm was taken over by Ernst & Young in the wake of the Enron collapse. This unsettling time forced him to adapt, he says.
Knight recently undertook the Benevolent Society’s Social Leadership Australia (SLA) Program and has been helping SLA alumni set up corporate connections, bringing them together with not-for-profits.
33 | General Manager of Strategy and Group Adviser | Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Philippa Maiden reports to the Group CFO at Australia’s biggest bank and has a dual role. First, she devises operational strategy for a team of 2000 finance professionals based in Australia and offshore, and works on a daily basis with CFO David Craig to provide research and advice in areas such as treasury, investor relations, property procurement and security.
This advice is often also destined for the board. Maiden represents the group at investor meetings and also addresses the financial services team.
Second, Maiden leads 20 management consultants who work across the banking group, including Bankwest and ASB in New Zealand, to deliver strategic projects for business unit leaders.
Last year proved a big one for Maiden, who not only took out the bank’s CEO’s award for outstanding service to the group on a major cost/ efficiency project a team effort, she insists but also gave birth to her first child, a son, in September.
At the same time she was working with her boss to establish and champion a diversity strategy for the financial services team, which has already seen a meaningful increase in female representation in executive ranks.
30 | Executive Manager Financial Services | Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Racheal Mason CPA may have started as a management trainee at a credit union, but she’s made a rapid rise through the financial community.
Mason today leads two teams supporting the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA’s) business and private banking division, accounting for A$1.25 billion of revenue and a frontline staff of 1300.
She provides three-year forecasts with continual adjustments to incorporate changed economic conditions and shifts in strategic direction of the business. Notably, she was on the team that worked during the global financial crisis to build stress test scenarios for CBA.
With financial markets still volatile, the frequency of updates and scenario modelling has ramped up and Mason must be quick to respond, while also taking care of monthly management reporting.
Three years as a management consultant before joining CBA in 2007 provided strong change-management and project-planning skills, on which Mason recently drew to drive a rise in the cross-selling of products.
The upshot will be a change in behaviours in more than 1000 Australian branches.
38 | Partner and Oceania Leader, Operational Transaction Services (Merger Integration) | Ernst & Young
In four years Simon Moore’s team has built Big Four professional services firm Ernst & Young’s merger integration practice from scratch. He started with a small group and now has a team of 45, including four partners, making it the most substantial post-merger team in Australia and Moore the country’s leading adviser in the field.
Melbourne-based Moore and his colleagues step in after a deal has been announced. With mergers, acquisitions and demergers there’s increasing awareness of the importance of this time, Moore says.
“There’s a high risk of losing value if things aren’t well handled.”
Moore never misses a legal “day one” of a merger when ownership changes hands. That’s a crucial time, he says. “It’s exciting to be standing next to the owner on such an important day. Often, it’s the biggest transaction they’ve done in their business lives.”
As a university student Moore worked for his parents’ food processing business in Adelaide. At 23 he undertook a full-time MBA and at 27 he was general manager of BP and Caltex’s motor oil centres in Melbourne.
There are widely recognised patchy outcomes from mergers, Moore says. “There will be nuances … after a few dozen integrations and carve-outs, you can often readily spot how to head off potential difficulties.”
34 | CFO | IKEA
Aaron Musca CPA began his career in financial services at the Commonweath Bank of Australia and he spent several years in equities research at Macquarie Bank before joining Coca-Cola Amatil, where he spent six years moving through analyst roles into corporate finance, becoming senior commercial manager for group procurement in 2009.
Musca became CFO of Swedish furniture retailer Ikea’s Australian business last year and within months had supported the opening of two megastores in Sydney and Melbourne and the purchase of an option on a further Sydney site.
He also moved some of the transactional accounting tasks to a global shared service centre and strengthened corporate governance.
Musca believes the secret to his rapid career progression is mentors “people who gave good advice, provided an encouraging word, steered me in the right directions and, in some instances, took a risk and gave me a chance to prove what I could do”.
He was nominated for this list by one of his mentees, who observes that when developing new financial models Musca continually maintained his focus on the team, “ensuring that we were all involved and were developing our skills”.
32 | Founder and Managing Director | Davisons Consulting, Hong Kong
Since he was an actuarial student at the University of New South Wales, Sunny Ng CPA has wanted to run his own consultancy specialising in turnaround solutions. He’s inspired by the challenge of problem solving, and was fortunate in the first four years of his career, from 2001, to work at Ernst & Young covering insolvency.
Investigation and the ability to spot opportunities are also keys to the skill set he presents today as managing director of his own business consultancy, which works with companies in China and Hong Kong. Ng has worked on more than 40 deals since the company was established in 2009, advising on mergers and acquisitions, floats, equity, debt capital financing and asset management.
He is chief investment officer of Kith Holdings Limited, a main board-listed Hong Kong company, and investment director of General Nice Resources which is listed in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Ng also plans to build his own investment specialist business across Greater China and Asia.
37 | Chief Executive, Finance and Infrastructure | Housing Industry Association
Timothy Olive CPA, who lives in Canberra, oversees the financial and infrastructure functions of one of Australia’s largest industry organisations, with 40,000 members operating in residential construction. Olive also serves on the board of HIA Insurance Services, a builders’ insurance broking joint venture with Aon Australia.
Olive has 10 direct reports, encompassing 110 staff within functional responsibility, and in his eight years in the job identified a key need for the Housing Industry Association (HIA) to place a more strategic focus on HR, staff development and performance management. The result was significant change that saw staff turnover drop from 25 per cent to 14 per cent in 2010.
In tandem with that, the association notched up a record profit of A$5.7 million.
Olive effectively protected HIA from the onset of the global financial crisis by identifying the market downturn and improving cost control. Helping HIA to grow new leaders is Olive’s real passion. He is overseeing generational succession and is also keenly participating in career development mentoring along the way.
Formerly Olive was treasurer of the Canberra Racing Club, which he now chairs.
34 | Managing Director | Kennerlys
There’s a growing trend among small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to seek external advice to help them grow, and Lejo Ouwendyk CPA loves the coaching side of his accounting practice helping businesses to unlock their potential. He also has the results to show for it.
Since he took over the running of the mid-tier Western Australian accounting firm Kennerlys in 2007 at 27, turnover has increased more than 200 per cent, although the staff of 14 has only increased by one. Ouwendyk is a hands-on manager who assumes responsibility for all areas, including the development of business consulting services and tools to help owners run their enterprises successfully.
He learned business skills from his father, who had a busy commercial painting business, but admits to finding running the carpet cleaning business he bought in 2003 (and subsequently sold as a going concern) a major learning curve.
Ouwendyk is not too busy to give back, however. With the help of clients, staff, family and friends, he raised A$70,000 to build a dormitory wing at the Heroes of the Nation Orphanage in Kenya, accommodation for 40 homeless girls. “I’m just back from Kenya and am pleased to report that it’s making a real difference,” he says.
31 | Principal Adviser, Business and Tax Consulting Service | Collins SBA
Small business has captured the imagination of Andrew Pearce CPA who, as a schoolboy, was gaining a financial education from globally recognised figures such as Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. Besides his role as a principal adviser at the Hobart business and tax firm Collins SBA, where he leads an advisory team of nine that helps clients to maximise the value of their businesses, Pearce also owned several going concerns a small food business, Taste of Asia, and Aroma Records, a music store with adjoining cafe. Both have been sold for significant gain.
Pearce takes a keen interest in driving the accounting profession further and has recently been admitted to the Proactive Accountants Network, an Australia-wide group that meets quarterly to discuss industry best practice.
Within his firm, he has implemented a system of quoting upfront for accounting work rather than charging by the hour. As a result, jobs have been turned around faster, not least because the accountants focus on fewer jobs at any one time.
Regardless of business size, Pearce also insists all his clients have an AGM. Beyond focusing on business health, he also served as treasurer of Quit Tasmania, the antismoking lobby group.
31 | Executive Manager – NSW Sydney Region, Retail Banking Services | Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Recognised by her peers with the Financial Services Institute of Australasia’s inaugural award for outstanding young professional last year, Malini Raj’s dynamism continues with a recent switch from her role as manager portfolio, coordination and analytics at Westpac.
In January she became executive manager NSW Sydney region, retail banking services at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), a role in the Executive Manager Development Program providing exposure to the retail bank, CBA processes and leadership roles in the region.
It is expected she will take on an executive role at the end of the year-long program.
Raj graduated with a Bachelor of Accounting from the University of Technology, Sydney, in 2001 and joined Citigroup.
Last year she was selected for Westpac’s Cape York Indigenous Community Partnership project. Raj has also been selected to appear in the Women on Boards 2012 Next Generation of Corporate Female Leaders Program.
37 | Senior Manager, Workplace and Contracts | Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development
“We’re not your average bunch of grey cardigan-wearing public servants – we don’t give up when things get tough, instead we get creative,” says Joanne Rumble FCPA, a professional multi‑tasker.
Her background may be in accountancy, but Rumble’s role has responsibilities across strategic, project and operational functions to several Victorian Government ministerial offices. Among other things, she’s tasked with managing property, fleet and facilities, major office fit-outs, IT and communications, business process improvement and the leadership of any disaster recovery operation.
Rumble’s experience over the past 11 years includes senior finance roles, grants administration and project management. “Working in government is a lesson in being able to cope with and thrive in a changing environment,” she says.
Rumble is also an active volunteer, a director of the William Angliss Institute of TAFE, a member of the program advisory committee at RMIT School of Accounting and the Victorian President of CPA Australia. She’s also planning her next juggling act – a portfolio of board positions.
38 | Chief Investment Officer | Sinar Mas Land
Ferdinand Sadeli CPA, a high-flier in the Indonesian investment community, has just switched jobs from director of the investment bank at Barclays Capital (a division of Barclays Bank) in Indonesia to the role of chief investment officer at Sinar Mas Land, a publicly listed Singapore company with investments in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
Sadeli is well placed to guide his new employer, which has two subsidiaries in Indonesia, Duta Pertiwi and Bumi Serpong Damai, the largest property company in Indonesia by market capitalisation. It has aggressive expansion plans due to the strong growth in the Indonesian economy. Sinar Mas Land is also planning to expand into other regions in South-East Asia and in China.
In his role at Barclays, Sadeli led mergers and acquisitions and fund-raising activities for major clients and served as a ratings adviser to the Indonesian Minister of Finance.
Beginning his career as an auditor at KPMG, Sadeli is a true believer in the importance of furthering financial education, regularly lecturing at universities across South-East Asia and in Australia and in his role as president of CPA Australia’s Indonesian office.
38 | Director, Corporate Planning and Portfolio Management | Telstra
Recognised as a change agent in a rapidly transforming sector, Andrew Schultz has had a strong rise in the international telecommunications industry with strategic roles for Orange and Hutchison in the UK and South Africa.
In 2006 he was headhunted by Australia’s Telstra, where he was selected for the CEO Executive Leadership Program. He is now director of corporate planning and portfolio management, covering corporate forecasting, planning and translating strategy into financial targets.
His responsibilities include managing quarterly forecasting and the coordination of its P&L, capex, cash flow and balance sheet. Schultz created the Telstra Economic Model, a multidimensional cost and profitability framework, and is highly valued for his commercial awareness, providing insights on the external and internal influences that affect business performance.
His success secret, he says, is enjoying the challenge of being out of his comfort zone learning, innovating and testing.
His colleagues say Schultz has been masterful in adapting and sharing his leadership insights.
36 | Chief Operating Officer | SRA Information Technology
As the COO of privately owned Darwin-based SRA Information Technology, Shane Smith CPA oversees the daily operations of 80 staff across Asia and Australia. He began his career as an accountant, but quickly moved from public practice to a senior financial reporting role with NT Tourism, then to the financial controller’s role at the Menzies School of Health Research. The school grew significantly during his tenure, from turnover of A$21 million to A$39 million.
Since the start of his career a hallmark has been seeking to improve processes. “If I can see a better way, I will make it happen,” says Smith, who while working as a graduate at a mid-tier firm suggested to the managing partner that he should not have the newest computer, as he spent most of his time with clients. The computer was given to a senior accountant, who immediately became more productive, Smith recalls.
A stickler for work‑life balance, the father of three has convinced his past four employers to let him work a day a week from home that’s another productivity improvement, he insists, due to less travel and fewer meetings and interruptions.
36 | Lead Partner, Corporate Finance | BDO
Steven Sorbello, who has been with the Brisbane accounting firm BDO for 15 years, was quickly recognised for his talents, becoming a partner at just 27. He has played a key leadership role in growing the firm’s corporate finance capabilities including valuations, due diligence, capital raising, debt advisory and financial modelling and in the process has expanded the team from two people (and revenues of less than A$500,000) to 17 (and revenues in excess of A$5.5 million).
At the height of the global financial crisis Sorbello spotted an opportunity in project finance and infrastructure work, in tandem with the chance to hire three former Macquarie Bank staffers.
Not great timing, but in hindsight it was worth the risk, as BDO has forged ahead and is the only Brisbane accounting firm to offer comprehensive services that cover these areas.
Sorbello attributes business performance expert Michael Fox with passing him a critical piece of advice: “If you focus on the process, the outcome will take care of itself.”
37 | CFO and Director of Finance | Boeing Australia
Speed and innovation make the aerospace industry perpetually exciting, says Vasundara Srenivas CPA. “Things you think are impossible are made possible at Boeing.” Srenivas’s early interest in aeronautics developed when she was growing up near an air force base in India.
Not long after completing her MBA at the University of Canberra, Srenivas secured a role with defence contracting business Raytheon.
In 2009 she became CFO and director of finance at Boeing Australia, an A$800 million enterprise and the largest subsidiary of the aerospace giant outside the US.
Brisbane-based Srenivas now heads a team of 130, overseeing all statutory, regulatory and financial matters for Boeing’s eight entities in Australia.
The only woman on the Boeing Australia executive leadership team when appointed, Srenivas has been a keen advocate for Boeing’s Women in Leadership Program.
Occupying key posts at Boeing exposed Srenivas to the full spectrum of leadership styles, and the quality she most admires is selflessness. She names Mahatma
Gandhi and Steve Goo, vice president of international operations and compliance at Boeing Defense, Space and Security, as her role models.
The woman charged with reviewing strategic and financial capabilities for Boeing says: “I’m delighted to be part of a company that continuously evolves to meet the needs of airlines and the travelling public.”
34 | CFO | Resourcehouse
Raymond Tam CPA began his career as an engineer then switched to investment and corporate banking, moving into the resources sector in 2010 all carefully planned moves. At Hong Kong’s Resourcehouse, he’s on the senior management team developing major projects in Australia in collaboration with Chinese companies for sale to emerging markets.
One of his career goals is facilitating the development of emerging markets which are “crucial to the future of world trade, global financial stability, poverty reduction, improvement of human rights and environmental cooperation”, he says.
Tam has functional responsibility for the company’s finances as well as a strategic role, bringing an investment banking perspective from his previous roles with JPMorgan, Citibank and HSBC.
During his tenure, the company has executed a key cooperation agreement between Australia and China for the China First Coal Project in Queensland and a long-term coal off‑take agreement with an estimated value of US$40 billion.
34 | Head of Asia Corporate Finance and Managing Director | Jeffries
Hong Kong-based Ronald Tam CPA recently left his role as executive director of the Asia mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and corporate finance team at investment bank UBS to be managing director of Jeffries, heading the Asian corporate finance team responsible for executing and originating equity and M&A in Asia.
While Greater China has been his primary focus, Tam has worked with regulators and others on transactions in Australia, Mongolia and Russia as well as many Asian countries. Last November, with twin brother Raymond (see Raymond Tam), he participated in The 2011 Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit in New Delhi.
Tam says his greatest feat is surviving the volatility of investment banking. As a graduate from Auckland University, Tam’s career was hit by the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s.
After time as a trainee at Ernst & Young and later trainee executive at HSBC, he took up investment banking roles with ING and the Bank of China International where he rose to senior vice-president. In terms of corporate collegiality, he carries a secret weapon. A former table tennis champion, Tam always takes his bat to meetings in China. “There’s a stadium with courts in every state-owned enterprise it’s the sport of choice on the mainland,” he says.
32 | Product Development Manager | Lend Lease Asia
The career of Michael Tanujaya CPA has been outstanding from the start. Fresh out of his Bachelor of Commerce and Information Systems degree at Melbourne University in 2003, he joined the GE commercial management program the only graduate to do so straight out of university.
In 2007 he moved to property giant Lend Lease in Sydney, where he led the commercial assessment of the A$1 billion Darling Walk, now called the Darling Quarter, redevelopment and subsequently the structuring of a A$2 billion acquisition of 15 retail assets in Australia and New Zealand.
Transferred to the Singapore office in 2010, Tanujaya was responsible for researching, analysing and completing Lend Lease’s entry strategy into China, identifying an opportunity for the company to tap into the undermanaged retail sector in tier 2 and 3 cities.
At the same time in 2010, he worked on securing a S$1.5 billion mixed use development site in Jurong Gateway in Singapore.
Active in setting up a network of young real estate professionals, Tanujaya says his inspiration was his father, who established one of Indonesia’s most successful medical groups.
Tanujaya’s goal? To set up a private equity business with an investment mandate across South‑East Asia.
38 | CFO | Allen & Overy, Asia Pacific
The responsibilities of Darren Tavares CPA grew enormously in May 2010 when he moved from the Sydney office of international law firm Allen & Overy (where he had responsibility for the financial function of five Australian offices) to the Hong Kong base to cover nine offices in seven countries Australia (Sydney and Perth), China (Beijing and Shanghai), Indonesia (Jakarta), Japan (Tokyo), Singapore, Thailand (Bangkok) and Hong Kong.
He handles all financial aspects for the Asia-Pacific, a region that’s sharply in the firm’s sights for its high growth potential. Tavares travels often, but his role is about far more than changing geography and living out of a suitcase. “I’m still trying to pick up some vocabulary in each language,” the native South African says.
However, it's the evolving tax landscapes of some of the jurisdictions and sub-jurisdictions, such as China, that provide the biggest challenge. Also, Tavares needs to be mindful of the tax regimes in other offices Allen & Overy has 39 worldwide as he plays an active role in regional management.
Despite his senior role, Tavares says it’s often the small, everyday things that make a difference. “Easy changes, such as standardising report sets, regular staff meetings, listening to staff, putting in extra time and striving to excel at service delivery all contribute to our internal customers being happy with my team’s performance,” he says.
No job is too big or too small. “I am a strong believer in spending time understanding the details the mechanics of business drivers to be able to deliver on big-picture items.”
36 | Financial Controller | Beca Group
Auckland-based Cullum Vibert CPA not only manages the finances of the Beca engineering consultancy group within New Zealand which accounts for about 60 per cent of its activity but also acts as finance bid-pricing expert for the employee-owned group’s operations across Asia. Beca has 2800 staff.
In his first four years Vibert rose rapidly from accounting manager to one of the most senior finance roles by 2009.
With the finance fundamentals in place, leading a lean team of 15, he’s embedded a strong commercial awareness in the business, improving the financial knowledge of its engineers and groundwork managers.
Beca thrived during the global financial crisis, generating record profits. Vibert’s swift action in improving performance and reducing risk by tightening credit policies is acknowledged as one of the reasons why.
Vibert likes the motivation that employee-share ownership delivers and the sense that the work performed by Beca brings benefits to the wider community.
39 | CEO/MD | GJ Gardner Homes
It started as a small building company on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, but the residential building franchise group that Darren Wallis CPA has worked with for the past 18 years (11 as CEO) has grown from 20 offices to more than 100 in Australia, New Zealand and the US since he took over the top job.
His role is developing leaders and establishing master franchises in each of the markets.
Currently the group builds around 2000 homes annually with a turnover of A$500 million. Wallis is not afraid of a challenge, actually expanding the company into the US, just as its housing market collapsed with the global financial crisis in 2008. He’s no small thinker, either, unabashedly announcing plans to be the No. 1 builder in the world by 2025 and he may have the acumen to do it.
Picking the right people for the roles is key to his job. Wallis says he loves helping builders by giving them skills, resources and systems to take them to the next level. In his previous role as financial controller, he helped develop the software that monitors and covers accounting, project management and estimating the cost of building operations for the group.
36 | Founder and Director | Corality Financial Group
Colleagues told Rickard Warnelid he was crazy when he quit a promising career in project finance with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) to start his own business in 2006, but Warnelid has not looked back. He’s a career adventurer with a Master of Physics specialising in acoustic wave dynamics from Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology.
He wrote an application for a top-secret defence application to detect Russian submarines before joining the software industry in Sweden. His qualifications were not recognised in Australia, so Warnelid cold-called his way into the job with CBA in 2005.
With business partner Nick Crawley, Warnelid now runs a business that creates financial models and consults on public‑private partnerships and other big projects globally.
Corality, which runs a team of 30 in the US, Europe, Britain and Australia, also devises training programs in financial modelling methodology that have been used in more than 15 countries from Senegal to South Korea, Austria, Dubai and the UK.
His ambition is to build the Sydney-based Corality into a consulting firm to challenge the Big Four accounting firms.
35 | Managing Director | BRS
Daringly, Kym Williams CPA co‑founded his Adelaide-based consulting firm specialising in infrastructure and mining during the global financial crisis, but the start-up was clearly focused on the right sectors at the right time.
In just a few years the company has grown from a team of three to 30, and its local client base has developed a more international focus.
In his 20s Williams moved through auditing roles to senior positions in local government and is credited with turning around and growing the South Australian and Western Australian arms of the US engineering and environmental services firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.
It’s all about teamwork and good role models, insists Williams, who says he initially learned this from playing district cricket. His overarching role at BRS is bowling clients over by bringing out the best in people, nurturing a team that’s empowered, proactive and committed with a focus on openness and integrity.
Williams is in the early stages of setting up the Aspiring Entrepreneurs in Rural Communities Foundation, which aims to provide leadership and culture tools to entrepreneurs in rural communities.
28 | Manager Corporate and Financial Planning | Randwick City Council | Congratulations to 2012's Capital CFO Awards Young Financial Manager of the Year!
Mitchel Woods CPA is a stand-out public sector financial professional. He began as senior management accountant with Randwick City Council in Sydney and has risen to his present pivotal role in three years.
These days he makes the financial running, leading the process of setting annual budgets, conducting quarterly reviews, issuing monthly reports to managers and council and maintaining its long-term financial plan.
He’s also responsible for external reporting, overseeing strategic asset management and council fees and charges.
Described as “effervescent”, Woods was manager of financial services for a small rural council at 23. Colleagues insist his exceptional communication abilities and zeal have helped him move fast. Notably, he can explain the financial impact of decisions on projects to managers whose strengths are not in business or finance.
His big challenge has been overcoming the scepticism of more senior managers.
Woods says the most satisfying part of his job has been seeing projects through from concept to fruition, knowing they will help improve society.
Ultimately, he wants a role at the United Nations or World Health Organization.
Hao (John) Zhang
38 | China Finance and Commercial Manager| Downer EDI Ltd Rail Division
As the China finance manager for the rail division of top 100 Australian listed engineering company, Downer, Hao Zhang CPA took the financial and commercial lead on the Waratah train project, the largest public-private partnership project in Australian history with a A$3.6 billion investment, and is now based in Changchun, China.
Downer is the major private partner in the project, which was recently restructured with the New South Wales Government agreeing to invest A$175 million in 2018 in return for 100 per cent of the equity in Reliance Rail, which is delivering the train project.
While the project has been contentious, Zhang a Chinese-born Australian and graduate of Deakin University who moved to Downer from the Townsend engineering group in 2009 took charge of cost controls and was the senior interface between the senior project team and subcontractors, where an important part of his role has been conveying Western management and cultural awareness to the Chinese to "build a bridge between the West and Chinese interests".