Date posted: 14/10/2019

The habits of a successful CEO

Become a student affiliate

Discover the accounting and finance world by signing up as a Chartered Accountants ANZ Student Affiliate. It’s free and just takes a few minutes.

Sign Up NowAbout Become a student affiliate

Emma is currently expanding award-winning Australian beverage brand Capi Sparkling's range of beverages both domestically and into Asia, as well as advising a stable of small businesses on strategic planning at Folk Capital.

Being the boss isn't easy, and keeping a journal - updating it every morning and night - is a process which helps her to reflect on the day, constantly improve in her role and keep focused on moving forward to reach her goals.

"There's so much noise out there that it can be really overwhelming, so I'm really big on self-reflection. Whether that is setting goals or journaling every day to check in, I make sure I'm on track to really focus on what I want," Emma says.

Before leading Capi Sparkling, Emma worked closely with the company's founder for five years, building trust and shadowing him in meetings and operations. Witnessing a wide scope of business situations allowed Emma to understand how to approach each scenario - right down to soft skills such as body language and tone.

Even as the CEO, Emma keeps her mentor close and believes shadowing is the most effective way to improve your own personal business approach.

"Wherever you're working, if you see the opportunity to shadow people or be in meetings then take it. You can watch how people interact with each other and you'll see good meetings, bad meetings, tense meetings and you'll just start to pick things up," Emma says.

Young leaders

Emma admits some people are taken aback by her CEO status at such an early age, but this is where she believes holding a CA accreditation has paid off. She believes the credential adds an authoritative weight that has helped her build confidence when those around her may have more experience.

The training involved to gain the CA accreditation exposes students to a commercial outlook that helps provide reality checks for new business ideas and "goes beyond the accounting debits and credits." This technical skill helps Emma to bring ideas to life for the small businesses under Folk Capital.

"Sometimes [a CA mindset] helps you come back to reality on how do we scale the idea, how do we make it actually happen, and tick all the boxes." Emma says.

Emma likes to take an assumption and judgement-free approach to meeting people in her CEO role. She understands that anyone can have a bad day - potential partners, her staff, even herself - but the boss can only connect and inspire a team if they're seen to be in control.

Emma has built relationships in her own teams by understanding the role every staff member plays in the business - she can both process an invoice and lead the business strategy. As the CEO, Emma understands that business culture and performance filters down from the top and this is something she reminds herself of in every personal interaction.

"I just take the approach of; what type of leader do I want to be perceived as? And what type of culture do I want the company to have?"

For students who are serious about being leaders in the business world, Emma's advice for success is persistence.

"It's a noisy world and I think students today have a significant amount of pressure to be successful and to be entrepreneurial. You just have to stick to your guns."