CAs in Australia share their most amazing career postings

Chris Sheedy By Chris Sheedy, CA Today

10 November 2016

Who said accounting was dull? We asked five CAs in Australia to come clean on their most amazing, bizarre and downright kooky career postings.

Natalya Ferris CA

Assistant Manager, Audit, BDO Sydney

“I once had to travel to an audit at a company that converted rubbish into electricity, which meant it was essentially a rubbish tip up in Broughty Ferry, near Dundee in Scotland.

The two of us had to work in an office with a window that you could not open, as the smell was so horrific. The office was so small we had to climb over the desk to get in and out. I had to wear a hi-vis coat and a hard hat when outside of the office as it was so dangerous.

The audit was fairly straightforward, but the entire team ended up sick afterwards. I will never agree to audit a rubbish tip again!

Actually, I never seem to have any luck with my travel locations, and that hasn't changed since my move to Sydney (which, I must admit, was a very good move in terms of travel). The most glamourous place I am sent is Newcastle, on the coast north of Sydney, for four weeks in February.”

Natalya Ferris CA

Ken Weldin CA

ICAS Community Chair - Melbourne

Partner with PKF

“In the late 1990s Brunei had a future fund exercise where they took a portion of their oil revenue and aimed to invest it in large scale infrastructure projects that would provide jobs, income and security, after their oil runs out.

The Sultan passed control over this exercise to his brother Prince Jefri and, as was widely reported at the time, the money did not always end up in such long-term projects. Instead it was spent on what the press referred to as "toys" in the form of cars, palaces, theme parks, yachts, golf courses, million dollar watches, paintings etc.

A team of over 100 accountants from Andersen was gathered in Brunei to manage the multiple companies set up under the development fund, which had fallen into insolvency.

One of my responsibilities, as a member of this team, was the fleet of cars that included Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Ferraris, Bentleys etc, all of which had been bought in bulk and in a wide variety of colours, then housed in non-air-conditioned car parks.

Any potential purchaser would be liable for the GST, thereby making any sale recoveries unlikely, so laws and the constitution were rewritten! This led to a one-on-one meeting with the Deputy PM/Treasurer/Chancellor as well as regular trips across the border into Borneo, literally into the jungle, in order to enjoy a beer, given Brunei's religious beliefs.

Bizarre. Odd. Fantastic. Fantastical. Become an accountant and see the world? Yes!”

Peter Valentine CA

“I was working in the automotive components industry for a Melbourne-based organisation and we had established a joint venture in China in the city of Dalian. This was in 2006, when Dalian was not well known in Australia.

It is not a large city by Chinese standards but with six million inhabitants it's a busy place. It is located in the north east and winters tend to be prolonged.

On my first visit in May 2006 spring had sprung and one sunny Sunday morning my hosts invited me to take a walk to enjoy the weather, on a rare day that the sky was visible, in Zhongshan Square (which curiously is round). It seemed all the locals had the same idea, as the place was chockers.

Amongst the throngs of locals I'll never forget how odd it felt being the only Caucasian.”

Peter Valentine CA

Sam Apps CA

Group Procurement Director, George Weston Foods (Sydney)

“As a cub auditor back in the day, I was taken to the Findhorn Foundation, essentially a commune on a spectacularly beautiful spot on the Moray Coast.

It was populated primarily by jaded professionals who had dropped out of the rat race and every day I spent there was a voyage of discovery.

Of the colourful general ledger accounts that included the ‘Candle Making Account’, the ‘Sacred Dance Account’ and the ‘Isle of Erisaid Account’, our favourite was the ‘Manifestation Account’. This was used to ‘manifest’ the aspirations of the members including Roger ‘the barrel man’, who had decided to construct a home out of old whisky vats.

The barrelhouses

Perhaps the two most confronting discoveries were the single-sided entry accounting system, designed by an ex-programmer who didn’t see the point in all that pointless duplication, and the completely new finance team we met on day four (‘Hi there - we dreamt last night that we were meant to be the finance team so we all agreed on a swap!’).

It was a whole bunch of fun of course, and I have taken their parting words with me throughout life. ‘Remember you’re not just an auditor, Sam,’ they said. ‘You are an Instrument of the universe!’”

Billy Meston CA

ICAS Community Chair - Western Australia

Partner, PwC Perth

“When Glenmorangie bought Ardbeg Distillery on Islay, in the Inner Hebrides group of islands, the distillery had been moth-balled for a few years. During the acquisition, myself and the proposed distillery manager, who was previously at Glen Moray distillery, flew over to Islay to perform a stocktake.

This included chemically testing (and physically tasting!) the product to ensure the whisky was not spoiled. We were supposed to be there for three days. However, as fate would have it, the airport in Islay was fogged-in and we ended up staying an extra two days. Never mind, there was plenty to keep us occupied...

Billy Meston CA

Since I have been in Australia I have also flown to mine sites in the middle of Western Australia and also in Queensland. It’s not particularly unusual here in Australia, but a bit different for people from Scotland - small, single-engine planes packed with miners and me and landing on dirt strips in the middle of a red desert.

At one gold mine in North Queensland, about three hours drive from Cairns, there was a small lake that had two crocodiles in it! However, they were just "freshies", as the Aussies say, so not likely to eat you.”

What's your most memorable career posting? Send an email to the CA Today team or share in the comments below.

Chris Sheedy is one of Australia’s busiest and most successful freelance writers. He has been published regularly in the Sydney Morning HeraldVirgin Australia VoyeurThe Australian MagazineGQIn The BlackCadillac, Management Today, Men’s Fitness and countless other big-brand publications. He is frequently commissioned to carry out copywriting and corporate writing projects for organisations, including banks, universities, television networks, restaurant chains and major charities, through his business The Hard Word.


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