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Lisa - Staff profile - Accountant

Lisa

Year joined

2003

Current position

Director, Estate Management, Property Services and Alliance Management Branch, Overseas Property Office, Canberra ACT

What qualifications do you have

Bachelor of Arts (Accounting) Canberra University (1995), Certified Practising Accountant (1998)

Other key placements including overseas assignments

Counsellor (Management) London (2007-2010); Director Financial Services (FSB) 2005- 2007; Director Financial Policy (FMB) 2003-2005

What were you doing before you joined DFAT?

Prior to joining DFAT I was the Senior Finance Manager for the ANAO and prior to that acted as Financial Controller for a number of Canberra and Papua New Guinea based businesses, through my employment as Manager, Business Services with Price Waterhouse Coopers. Aside from the Financial Management of the ANAO, I made major contributions to the development and implementation of E-procurement, ANAO travel policy, process re-engineering, implementation of new business intelligence & performance management software and management of the portfolio's agency banking incentive scheme.

Why did you apply to DFAT?

I am particularly patriotic about Australia, and hence the work the department does both in Australia and overseas in providing assistance to Australians and furthering Australia’s interests overseas was a strong incentive for me. Alongside this, the interesting and diverse work environment provided by delivery of outcomes for Australians and the Australian Government, in a global network, was very attractive. I was confident there was an excellent range of options to either continue to specialise in the accounting field or branch out to other areas and take on a non-conventional financial management career.

How have you used your previous experience during your time at DFAT?

Experiences gained from my secondment to PNG with Price Waterhouse, with management of local staff and other expatriate accountants from differing countries, which was challenging but rewarding, has been very useful when liaising and assisting DFAT's locally engaged staff network and for implementing conditions of service changes at overseas missions. My career at the ANAO has also been useful as I have been able to offer insight in to some of the ANAO's work practices, organisational structure, improvements on financial reporting and more specifically on their better practice guides, for example with regard to Travel in the Public Sector. Budgeting and reconciliation experience has been very useful for my time in the Finance Branches of DFAT, especially for the implementation of the new SAP Consular & Travel Modules along with the budget preparation and reporting cycles. I was heavily involved in the London Passport Office reorganisation which drew heavily upon all of my skills as an Accountant, as a negotiator, a HR manager and some skills as a lawyer, that I didn't know I had. With Australians stranded in the UK from the Volcanic Ash disruptions I suddenly became responsible for activation and management of a mini-crisis centre to cope with the marked increase in consular enquiries from Australians requiring assistance, so overall the use of logic, analytical and problem solving skills gained from my previous careers has been my backbone.

What has been the highlight of your career so far with DFAT?

TThe highlight of my career would have to be, honestly, meeting Princes William and Harry through the organisation of the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Memorial Condolence Book at Australia House in London, whilst on posting. The Royal Family have a special affinity with Australia and were very sympathetic to the plight of Australians affected by the fires. Although a very sad and sombre occasion it was also extremely memorable and uplifting.

My career with DFAT has enabled me to see first-hand the work that our Senior Diplomats and Ministers undertake for Australia, overseas and in Australia and to interact and learn from them. I have worked with some very inspiring officers in the department who provide considerable motivation for my continued career with the department. I have had the opportunity to gain exposure to Australia’s foreign policy from supporting colleagues and Australian Ministers at work, such as at the G20 meeting in London and enjoy that part of the Corporate role immensely.

As an Accountant/financial officer, why would you recommend DFAT as a career?

If you are looking for support for further training, to continue to specialise as an Accountant or to branch out to a non- conventional career using your financial skills then DFAT should be at the top of your list. The highly fluid and responsive environment of supporting the critical work of Australia’s Embassies and High Commissions is highly rewarding and allows officers to utilise a wide range of skills and knowledge obtained either from studies and their experience in more traditional environments.