Date posted: 01/10/2019

An opportunity for growth: key lessons from a former CA student representative

We speak to finance student, Madi Gurr, about her CA student rep experience, the opportunities it has afforded her to date and what’s next on her early career journey.

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At a young age Madi Gurr discovered her passion for business. Having taken on her first job as an ice-cream server, she became fascinated with how the business ran and the different factors that went into making it successful.

Today, Madi is studying a Bachelor of Business majoring in finance at the Queensland University of Technology and is working as a Careers Engagement Assistant for Chartered Accountants ANZ based in Brisbane. Madi is also pursuing her creative passion for pottery and is in the process of establishing her own pottery business.

"Business is a universal language, and if you speak it you have the ability to travel and really connect with people. I see a career in finance and accounting as a way to continue on that journey," she says.

Madi participated in the CA ANZ Achiever Program in her first year of university*. Eager to continue developing valuable professional skills, she applied to become a CA student rep.

"I knew it was a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, broaden industry understanding, and develop soft skills you’re not usually taught at uni, like how to network effectively. So I wanted to become a rep to help me establish those skills before I started my career," Madi says.

Through Madi's engagement with Chartered Accountants ANZ, the opportunity arose for her to continue her work in the first ever Careers Engagement Assistant role for the Queensland team.

Madi aims to bring her unique perspective to this role to find new ways to support the CA student reps of the Queensland CA community.

"I bring a unique point of view to the role. I really enjoyed engaging with students, employers, and academics as a former rep, and in this role I can do what I love and help others to do the same," Madi says.

What does it mean to be a CA student rep?

Every year Chartered Accountants ANZ engages highly motivated students majoring in accounting to become student representatives at selected tertiary campuses across Australia and New Zealand.

They function as paid brand ambassadors who educate and inspire students to pursue a career in business and accounting, and attend industry events and network with academics and student societies.

"As a CA student rep, you become the face of Chartered Accountants ANZ on your campus," Madi says.

"It really opened my eyes to all the different pathways in accounting. Meeting people from different firms and industries is a great way to explore what you want from your career."
Madi Gurr, Former CA student rep.

An opportunity to grow key soft skills

As a result of her duties, Madi improved her face-to-face communication and public speaking skills, which she believes will be of great value throughout her career.

"Public speaking was something I was never great at, but being a CA student rep allowed me to work on it and develop this skill professionally. And while I've always been quite extroverted socially, I would shy away from professional networking events. In this role, I was taken out of my comfort zone and able to develop the ability to network confidently," Madi says.

Networking is a key aspect of the role, but Madi also saw it as an exciting opportunity to broaden her industry knowledge.

"Over time I was introduced to a large community of business professionals. It opened my eyes to all the different pathways in accounting and finance. Meeting people from different firms and industries is a great way to explore what you want from your career, and how others got there. My favourite part of being a CA student rep has been all the people I've met along the way," Madi says.

Opening doors to future opportunities

A recent survey showed that 85% of all jobs are filled via networking1 - a fact that holds true in Madi's case.

At an industry event, Madi was able to draw on the networking skills she acquired as a CA student rep and made a connection with a Brisbane accounting firm, eventually leading to a work placement. Madi now has a full-time role secured for when she graduates.

"The experience has given me so many opportunities. It helped me secure a work placement through which I learned valuable professional skills, and now I feel very fortunate to have a full-time role waiting for me after graduation," Madi says.


Make the most out of your time

If you want a challenge and are keen to grow your business acumen, then becoming a CA student rep may be the right move for you.

"I encourage anyone who is majoring in finance or accounting to apply if you're willing to learn, and work hard as part of a team. If you're willing to engage with and inspire others, then this is the role for you," she says.

*Article was originally written in 2019 and criteria has been updated.