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In the past, female Chartered Accountants (CA) were a rarity - but those days are long gone. Today, more women than men are enrolled in the Chartered Accountants Program1 which is the most common pathway to become a CA. And there are already more than 36,000 women among the membership of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand,1 many of whom are challenging stereotypes and old-fashioned ideas about what women can achieve in business.
To celebrate International Women's Day, we salute female CAs everywhere. Here are five examples of women who took control of their careers to do things on their own terms:
Annaliese Allen CA
After Annaliese Allen CA became a mother, she decided to leave her high-flying corporate job and create her own business. The inspiration came during a family holiday when Allen realised how much effort she made to protect her children from the sun, while neglecting herself. "I thought this is ridiculous. I have all my body exposed while building these sandcastles."
Seeing a gap in the market for sun-safe clothing for mums, she came up with Honeybell Waterwear - a range of ultraviolet protective garments such as swim tees, tunics, shirt dresses and sun dresses.
Allen's CA training has helped enormously, she says. "I think a competitive advantage about being a CA in your own business is the ability to make informed commercial decisions really quickly."
Rachel Grimes FCA
Rachel Grimes FCA is living proof that female accountants from Down Under can make it to the very pinnacle of global business. She is currently in one of the most influential accounting roles on the planet - President of the International Federation of Accountants.
Grimes' career has taken her from a Big 4 accounting firm, then into the banking sector, guided by a determination to 'give back' to the accounting profession and the broader community. "I don't want to sit on the sidelines," she says. "I want to get in and help. That's my modus operandi. I'm prepared to roll up my sleeves."
Globetrotting is a way of life for Grimes right now, and she says the CA qualification is ideal for others seeking an international career: "If you want to travel, being a CA can help you to work in many countries all over the world. There are Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand members based in more than 120 countries1 worldwide."
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Melanie Cooper AM CA
There was a time when beer was considered a "bloke's drink" but a lot has changed since then. According to the ABC, the number of women drinking beer rose 50 per cent between 2006 and 20162. And a female Chartered Accountant now holds many of the reins at one of Australia's best-loved breweries, Coopers.
In 2009, Melanie Cooper AM CA became the company's first female director after her father's retirement. She says her CA designation has been invaluable: "I think that 'CA' after your name says a lot about who you are, what you know, where you come from and how much work you've done."
Cooper has worked on numerous philanthropic boards, including the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership. As chair and treasurer of the Coopers Brewery Foundation, Cooper has used her accounting skills for the greater good: "I'm able to monitor our revenue streams and identify non-operational opportunities to benefit the Foundation, which in turn helps charities and people in need."
Joelene Ranby CA
Driven by the desire to help women who are seeking a healthier lifestyle, Kiwi CA Joelene Ranby established Resolution Retreats, a luxury live-in weight-loss, health and wellness retreat exclusively for women.
Equipped with entrepreneurial flair and her CA qualification, Ranby gradually built her business from the ground up. Now it's her full-time job and she says it's incredibly rewarding helping other women.
"It's been a lot of work but also a lot of fun because I'm doing something I am passionate about," says Ranby. "Our retreats are focused around giving busy women pragmatic solutions to taking better care of their health. The results have been remarkable which makes my work very special."
Claire Newey CA
Since qualifying as a CA, Claire Newey has enjoyed an incredibly diverse career - working across agriculture, chemicals, resources, retail, and not-for-profit. Now she's working at the cutting edge of disruptive technology as CFO for security start-up DroneShield.
DroneShield provides protection against drones threatening safety, security and privacy. One product, DroneGun, blocks the signal from the drone controller causing the hostile drone to either land safely or return to its operator. Prospective customers include airports, prisons, the military, police, VIPs and data centres.
"The CA designation gave me a great foundation in business and has been a launch pad for some wonderful opportunities in Australia and Europe," says Newey. "During my career, the one constant has been a focus on finance and I've been able to apply that wherever I have worked. No matter what the size of the business, there are similarities such as internal control and reporting."
1. Chartered Accountants ANZ database of members and provisional members, as of 29 January 2018.
2. ABC website, “How women are changing Australia’s beer drinking culture”, published: 26/2/16, available at: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drawingroom/how-women-are-changing-australias-beer-drinking-culture/7195864