Date posted: 31/07/2019 4 min read

Walking in both worlds as an Indigenous Australian and CA student representative

Sharyn Delacour is in the second year of university and is proud to be a CA student representative. We speak to Sharyn about how she engages with her fellow students, their lecturers and Chartered Accountants ANZ, and how being a CA student rep is opening doors for her.

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Becoming a CA student rep has been a roundabout story for Sharyn Delacour. It started with a rushed request to use MYOB software, and the rest, as they say, is 'herstory.'

"I was working in an admin role for a local Aboriginal dance company, and the general manager needed urgent help with some MYOB software," says Sharyn. She learned to use the program with ease.

This new skill led Sharyn to a position with the same company as a book-keeping contractor. Sharyn decided to quit her studies in law, got an ABN so she could help other businesses in her area, and spent the next 14 years exploring her passion for numbers.

In this time, Sharyn started her family. After a break from her contracting business, Sharyn decided to re-enter the workforce with renewed energy, and grow her skills by enrolling at James Cook University to study a Bachelor of Business with a Major in Accounting.

"I think I learned as much about myself as I did accounting," says Sharyn. "It lifted me as a person and took me to another level, even as a mature student with an established career, and especially as a mum who had perhaps forgotten just what I was capable of."

As a result of her focus, Sharyn aced the very first exam, achieving the highest score of her class and a 6.83 GPA.

Researching opportunities for Indigenous accountants led Sharyn to find Indigenous Accountants Australia. After an initial introduction she was referred to Chartered Accountants ANZ as a rep who could capably represent both associations.

"I jumped at the chance to be involved with these two reputable organisations and the opportunity to mentor new students," Sharyn says.

For Sharyn, being a CA student rep means being available for other students, promoting Chartered Accountants ANZ and the many resources it has to offer those considering the CA Program, networking with indigenous and non-indigenous students, and attending industry events and professional development workshops.

Sharyn_Delacour
Sharyn Delacour at James Cook University Market Day 2019.

As the face of Chartered Accountants ANZ on campus at James Cook University, Sharyn represents at careers and trade fairs, and will commence high schools visits presenting on the opportunities for accountants next term - changing the narrative on a career she's infinitely proud of.

"I used to think accounting was nothing but tax and number crunching, until my own experiences of reconstructing struggling companies and rewriting their stories educated and inspired me," she says.

These activities have enabled Sharyn to feel more comfortable meeting new people and holding her own in new kinds of professional situations.

"The role is pretty visible to other students, but that responsibility comes with Chartered Accountants ANZ's unwavering encouragement, involvement and offering of support. I'd encourage any student to give the role a go, give it their all, and take the chance to shine early on in front of possible employers," says Sharyn.

"I used to think accounting was nothing but tax and number crunching, until my own experiences of reconstructing struggling companies and rewriting their stories educated and inspired me."
Sharyn Delacour, CA Student Rep.

The role has also made Sharyn look to the future in new ways. "I'm aiming for the 'next level' in life, and taking the time to sound out the industry and learn what each role really looks like. I'm asking which positions might be exciting, challenging, and rewarding to me," she says.

Being a student rep as well as a proud Aboriginal woman from the Kurtijar tribe means Sharyn feels her voice is being heard at a wider level. "This role means I network with non-Indigenous people and take the opportunity to be supported walking in both worlds," she says.

The skills Sharyn has gained in both her studies and the student rep role mean she feels she'll do a better job empowering Indigenous businesses to take control of their finances.

"I'd like to get involved with governance training and educating boards of directors so they understand what their figures mean and so money previously spent on costly administration can be sent back to the community. It's the only way forward for our future generations."

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