Date posted: 19/12/2018

Young gun hits targets at 21

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Harry Flett got an early start in business. After just one year at university, the now 21-year-old Dunedin resident founded a student-run tutoring business – Ace Tutor – and last year he was recognised for his leadership talents.

Flett won New Zealand's top student award for accounting and finance, now called the Emerging Leaders Award, sponsored by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, which he credits as one of his proudest achievements.

"You can have a successful career in accounting and finance, or in fact, in any profession, and still make an impact on the world."
Harry Flett

"Coming away with that award was recognition of some hard work that's gone into my university years, and I was humbled and honored to receive it," he notes.

A trip to Bogota, Colombia, to attend the One Young World Summit of young leaders was part of his award. Flett says he learned a number of things from the conference. "Number one was [that] everyone has the ability to make a difference, and it's up to you whether you decide to do that," says Flett.

"Number two was I came away realising that you can have a successful career in accounting and finance, or in fact, in any profession, and still make an impact on the world."

Since graduating from the University of Otago, Flett is focusing on Ace Tutor.

Hear Harry discuss his views on his business and the future of the profession in the video below.

"I founded the business three years ago at the end of my first year," Flett explains. "We run group workshops for 40 to 60 students where we cover an entire course in two sittings." He says his role, "ranges right from working with suppliers, working with customers, marketing, performing our back-office functions, accounting and tax returns, to proofreading and formatting materials."

Running a business is a solid responsibility at the age of 21, and it's not without challenges. "There's no one telling you what to do," says Flett. "You set your own deadlines, you set your own goals, you define your role."

As a former student representative for CA ANZ, Flett was responsible for promoting the brand on his university campus. He describes the experience as "really valuable" and says CA ANZ offered plenty of CV workshops and practical knowledge that students could apply. "CA ANZ offers a huge range of experiences for students to get engaged," he notes, adding, "It's a stepping stone to get some exposure to real-life interaction with professional business people."

The need to add value

Flett recognises that the profession and businesses as a whole are facing major changes. "Everyone knows machines are getting smarter," he observes.

"Ultimately, many of the manual tasks we do will either be significantly reduced or not exist at all. So then the question becomes, 'What value can we provide?'"

"I believe you'll either be developing the automation or you'll be the one who is contextualising and communicating the information from that automation to provide value to clients and customers."