Date posted: 25/11/2020

Craig Norgate Scholarship winner Isaac Hughes CA

We speak to Isaac Hughes, recently designated CA and Auditor at BDO Gisborne, about how being the inaugural awardee of the Craig Norgate scholarship has opened up doors for him to create change within his community.

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To honour the legacy of Craig Norgate - an inspirational business leader and former CEO of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants - each year Chartered Accountants ANZ awards two Kiwis with a $5,000 financial support scholarship towards completing the CA Program.

Isaac was awarded the first ever Craig Norgate Memorial Scholarship in 2017, and hopes to inspire other young accounting professionals with his story.

"I must admit I was shocked and excited to receive the award. I remember punching my fists in the air and running around the room a couple of times with joy," says Isaac.

"Through the experience, I have also come to realise that it is important to make the most out of every opportunity you are given, as you never know what doors may open for you."

Isaac not only enjoyed studying accounting at university, he achieved grades that helped him secure a part time job at Coates Associates as an auditor. Isaac says that it was in this role that he was first made aware of the Craig Norgate Scholarship by his boss - a local CA in Gisborne - who also encouraged him to apply.

"My boss shared the scholarship information with me and suggested I give it as shot, as the company saw potential in me as a candidate," says Isaac.

For Isaac, there was not only the financial incentive to apply for the scholarship but a special personal connection which made him all the more aligned to do so.

"My uncle actually worked under Craig Norgate at Fonterra and my mom is from Taranaki, just like Craig. Those two factors definitely connected with me on a personal level making this an important scholarship to receive," says Isaac.

"I think what made me stand out in the application process was that I am from a small town in Gisborne and am really engaged in local community projects and initiatives. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to reflect on my experiences as a young accountant in the application process as it helped me rediscover my passion for accounting."

"I feel it's important to encourage more people to apply for scholarships because you develop a lot of new skills even just in the application process. Don't be afraid to show off your personality and the things that might help to set you apart from other candidates."
Isaac Hughes, Inaugural recipient of the Craig Norgate Scholarship and Auditor at BDO Gisborne.

Becoming a CA in a rural community

Studying the CA program in a rural area provided Isaac with both challenges and opportunities on his path to becoming a Chartered Accountant. He reflects that the Craig Norgate scholarship provided him with much-needed support along the way.

"Living in a small town, I'm highly engaged with my local community and the initiatives that bring us together. Getting involved has provided me with the soft skills required to work well with small businesses. The biggest challenge for me living in a small town was the added costs of the CA program. For example travelling to take the CA papers," says Isaac.

"The scholarship helped to alleviate a lot of the financial pressures, essentially paying for the last few papers, especially the Capstone programme which involved air travel. This allowed me the opportunity to complete the program quicker than I would have without the scholarship, purely due to the fact that I didn't have to wait until I could afford to take the papers."

While studying and working full-time, Isaac also made time to participate in community initiatives. He is chairperson of Poverty Bay Cricket Association, was chairperson for the local youth council and is a local rugby referee.

"I love both cricket and rugby, so it's great to be able to use the skills I've gained through the CA Program to help smaller community organisations," says Isaac.

Using your skills to make a difference

Keen to put his CA qualification to good use, Isaac is passionate about educating young leaders, supporting more youth in governance and finding ways to give more of his time to social impact initiatives.

"My biggest motivation is using my CA skill-set to work with charities. It's something that I'm involved with currently as either the chairperson or treasurer, that I would like to get more involved with as I progress my career."

Isaac encourages other young professionals who are eligible for the scholarship to seize the opportunity to apply.

"I feel it's important to encourage more people to apply for scholarships because you develop a lot of new skills even just in the application process. Don't be afraid to show off your personality and the things that might help to set you apart from other candidates." says Isaac.

Learn more about the Craig Norgate Scholarship

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