Building BONDs in Sydney: Shona Crighton CA
Having been in Australia for just two years, Shona Crighton is making a name for herself by bringing together the harbour city’s young professionals under a network and as a CA ambassador.
Shona spent her first five years of life in Saudi Arabia where her father - a service manager for Jaguar - looked after the Saudi King’s fleet in Riyadh, before moving to Edinburgh for her schooling.
In 2010, she gained a position with Ernst & Young in Edinburgh and began CA qualification, moving to smaller firm Cowan & Partners one year later.
“That was an incredible job which really honed my accountancy skills,” she noted. “I have that firm to thank for a lot of my core accounting knowledge. At the larger firm I was in an audit position and that was really all I did, although with such large clients the exposure was amazing. With the smaller firm, however I was covering other areas such as tax work, insolvency and forensic accounting.”
After qualifying, she moved to BDO Edinburgh and found her true calling in the middle market. But at the end of 2015, having “talked to friends and family for 12 months about moving to Australia”, she proved she was as good as her word by catching a plane to the other side of the world.
“I thought there was something else I needed to be doing; it was like an itch I needed to scratch. I had gone from school straight to university and had not done much travelling. I thought of moving to London because I had a lot of friends there, but then I realised that was not going to do it.
“I spoke with BDO about secondment opportunities and unfortunately they were all quite short-term. But the firm was very supportive,” she said. “I searched externally for a role in Australia and then resigned in the UK to join the network out here. It all happened very quickly, over about three or four months.”
She went on to join BDO Australia as a Senior, before a promotion to Assistant Manager then Manager in the Audit division. From this role, Shona has embraced professional networks and has taken a key position as an ICAS ambassador.
What does your role as an ICAS ambassador involve?
When ICAS qualified accountants come to Sydney we reach out and meet with them and tell them about the fact that we have an ICAS presence. When I moved over here I would have loved that. It would have been great if somebody had contacted me and taken me for a coffee just to talk about things. It helps to have something that feels very familiar.
I am on the ICAS Sydney committee and we run events, too. We recently organised an event around the ICAS mentoring program. We also had Anton Colella come out and do his tour, and for that we had a lovely lunch at the KPMG office. We have had a couple of thought leadership events and we had some Christmas drinks last year, too.
What is the BOND Network?
This, I feel, is one of the most exciting things I have achieved in my career to date. I founded the network about two years ago with two other colleagues at BDO. In Scotland, I was part of a group called Edinburgh Young Professionals.
They have annual balls and there are hundreds of members. When I came out here I looked for something similar where it was not just accountants, but included all professions. I didn’t find anything.
We put a lot of hard work into it and now we have 174 members across 84 companies.
We put a proposal together and got some funding from BDO and launched the network. It has been a phenomenal success. BOND stands for ‘Building Opportunity, Networks and Development’.
We put a lot of hard work into it and now we have 174 members across 84 companies. We have had breakfast events where we whiteboard a lot of different concepts and explore ideas and share experiences. We also set up drinks events and public speaking events.
What do you love about Australia?
The work culture is a lot more relaxed and everybody is happy - it must be the weather! The flexible work environment is big here. When it is summer you can have the opportunity to leave early and spend time at the beach or with your family.
There are times when we are quieter, and people could come in and start work at 6am and leave at 3pm. It is very much about trust and about ownership of your work and your responsibilities.
I’m finding many new sports and activities at the age of 29 which I never thought I would be involved in.
From a personal perspective, the weather means you're a lot more active. I love that. It means you go to the gym a lot and you get involved in sports. I have always been active, but it has gone up a notch since I moved to Australia.
I’m finding many new sports and activities at the age of 29 which I never thought I would be involved in. It is lovely to be near the sea and it is a beautiful place to live.
Are you now here for good?
I am very settled here. I have fallen in love with Australia and BDO are sponsoring me through my permanent residency, at the moment. I’m waiting for it to come through. I love my job here and the opportunities are incredible. Even the way I have progressed in the last two years is a sign of my future. I do miss home a lot, but my parents have been out to visit and they love it, too. They understand why I live here.
About the author
Chris Sheedy is one of Australia’s busiest and most successful freelance writers. He has been published regularly in the Sydney Morning Herald, Virgin Australia Voyeur, The Australian Magazine, GQ, In The Black, Cadillac, 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.