Sarah - Graduate profile
Desk Officer, Financial Performance Section
Other key placements including overseas assignments
Crisis Management Section, Consular Policy and Training Section, Secretariat of the International Commission on Nuclear Non Proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), Budget Development Section.
Short Term Mission to Vienna in June 2010
What qualifications do you have?
B Commerce (Liberal Studies) from Sydney University
What were you doing before you joined DFAT?
I was working in the Audit and Assurance division of a top tier chartered accounting firm in Sydney.
Why did you apply to DFAT?
I applied to DFAT because it offered a lot of variety for a financial management career with opportunities for different types of work outside of a regular accounting role. DFAT offered a chance to apply, in a broader context, skills I obtained in my university degree and previous work experience. The opportunity to serve overseas in one of DFAT's missions was also appealing.
How have you used your accounting training during your time at DFAT?
The accounting knowledge I picked up at uni, through work experience and post graduate studies has been applicable to my work in the finance branches at DFAT where I have worked on issues covering how budgets are allocated across divisions in Canberra as well as across all of our missions overseas. More importantly, I have found the ability to liaise and work effectively with different people most useful since financial management work at DFAT often involves working closely with staff across the entire department as well as with staff stationed at overseas missions. I have also found that accounting and corporate management skills are highly valued when working in non-financial management areas of DFAT and you are sometimes able to make a significant contribution should an issue arise that requires technical financial skills.
What has been the highlight of your career so far with DFAT?
One of the highlights of my first year at DFAT was definitely my short term mission to Vienna for the final meeting of the International Commission on Nuclear Non Proliferation and Disarmament during my placement with the ICNND Secretariat. It was a unique opportunity to learn how a major overseas meeting is organised and how much work is put in behind the scenes to have the event run smoothly. Another highlight was the opportunity to work in DFAT's crisis centre after the earthquakes in Chile in February 2010 and during the civil unrest period in Bangkok in May 2010. These were new experiences for me coming from a corporate background and gave me a valuable insight into consular work and how the government responds to overseas crises.
As an accountant, why would you recommend DFAT as a career?
DFAT offers a level of variety in your career that cannot be compared to a regular accounting role. It gives you the opportunity to apply corporate and technical skills across a broad range of areas in Canberra as well as exposure to posts overseas. It is a non-conventional financial management career offering support for further study and opportunities to work in non-accounting areas as well. The Department encourages staff to be flexible and adaptable to change and to move around and gain skills in different areas. So, if variety is what you are after; DFAT has a lot to offer.
How do you enjoy living in Canberra?
I really enjoy living in Canberra. The biggest difference to Sydney is the lack of traffic and the short distances to anywhere and everywhere you want to go. Canberra can be quiet but it does have all the conveniences of a city without the pollution, crowds and traffic jams. Canberra might be a shock to those moving from larger cities but it's a very easy place to live and if you make an effort to seek out new experiences and meet new people then Canberra has much to offer.