Simon Hardman CA

Your current role

My current role as the financial controller here is given the responsibility to look after managing our P&L, looking at statutory and tax obligations, thinking about long-range forecasting, budgeting, strategic investments for the company and try and anticipate what we need to have the company structured for in the future given the dynamic changes of the products and services that we offer in the marketplace.

My job is far from boring. I get to travel the world and talk to some very interesting people, customers and partners about what they're doing with technology.
Simon Hardman, Financial Controller, Microsoft Sydney

How has being a CA changed your life?

After university where I finished a Bachelor of Commerce degree, I knew that for a future in accounting it was great to have my CA designation. After working through four or five years with a small accounting firm to a larger accounting firm and getting qualified, I was able to use that as the first instance to actually walk into the partner's office and defend a right for a promotion given I had that accreditation.

Then the second time that it really paid off for me was when I spent five years with KPMG, and an opportunity came up to be part of a team to do a migration of product control functions in investment banking from London and New York to Singapore. That particular recruiting base that they sought was only going to be Chartered Accountants. So I was able to participate in that and was successful enough to be based in Singapore and work in London for a few months as well.

The third area where, if I reflect on where the CA designation has helped me in my career and to get here today, was where my boss at the time in Singapore, who was the [APAC] financial director said to me, "We'd like you to consider a position in Vietnam in running the finance organisation there." The reality to him at that time was, "I need to make sure that you tick the right boxes from a profile perspective." He sought my resume out. When he read the CV he came across very quickly that I was a Chartered Accountant. That was enough for him to say, "You're going to be fine. You'll get the job done now."

So that was the three moments of truth for me where my CA qualification paid off in my journey to get here today.The best thing about being a Chartered Accountant for me is that it truly is an accreditation that I've got to allow me to travel the world. It's recognised everywhere across various disciplines. So I know comfortably that if there's a country that I want to go to, having that on my resume allows me to get a foot in the door and be considered as part of the rung of people that would potentially be suitable for a job in any of those countries as well.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

One of the biggest career highlights for me was when I was working in Vietnam. I was invited as part of a group of six select CFO finance director roles to participate in a private luncheon with Jim Wolfensohn, who was the ex-World Bank President, to get some feedback from various organisations operating in Vietnam as to what it was like as a country in terms of its growth and progression and where we see the future in investment from a political standpoint, education, the people. For someone who at that stage was only 28 years old to be with an ex-World Bank vice president was a bit of an eye-opener for me to say, "Wow, it's amazing where I've come from to where I am today."

Any advice for those considering following the CA path?

When you embark on the Chartered Accountants Program my advice would be to work out prioritisation. Determine what you have to do, when you need to do it by and structure your time to cater for that. Your time is precious. When you're working and studying you need to make sure that you've got a plan of what you need to do. That would be my core bit of advice, to make sure you respect your time and you prioritise what you need to do and when you need to do it by.