Unearthing an accounting career

leadership track - catherine sullivan

When it came to choosing an industry to work in for accounting graduate Catherine Sullivan CPA, the choice was easy: it had to be mining.

A family business - of sorts

Most of Catherine’s family members work in Australia’s mining industry, so when a graduate position was advertised at Thiess – a construction, mining and services company based in Brisbane – she instinctively knew she had to apply.

"I grew up in Mount Isa, a small mining town in the middle of Queensland," Catherine says.

"A lot of my family is involved in mining including my dad, brother and uncle. I have a natural attraction to the industry.

Working your way up

Catherine has worked in various roles at Thiess and is now the Accounting Manager there, but the 29-year-old admits that being an accountant wasn’t her first career choice.

She originally wanted to become a scientist, but a love of numbers and the promise of better job prospects changed her mind. She decided to study a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Accounting, at Queensland University of Technology.

"I chose accounting because I love working with numbers and I was pretty good at maths at school. The diversity in the types of jobs available in different industries was also very appealing," she says.

CPA Designation provides a clear career boost 

Catherine has recently received the CPA Designation and says The CPA Program, along with her mentor Mal Edwards, have played important roles in her career progression.

"My mentor for The CPA Program, Mal [Edwards], who was my first boss at Thiess, has been extremely helpful to my career. He has always pointed me in the right direction and advised me on what my next step should be, once I got a certain amount of experience."

Upskilling for leadership

Catherine is now focused on completing a Masters of Applied Law at the University of Queensland and says having a Master’s degree will open up new doors in the future.

"I'm striving to become a more well-rounded and commercially focused person. As Accounting Manager I’m working with numbers, which is a great experience, but eventually I hope to be a manager of a finance and commercial department.

Catherine Sullivan CPA is an accounting leader to look out for in the future.

Catherine's tips for finding a good mentor: 

  • Put a lot of thought into who would be the best mentor
  • Make sure you can trust and learn from them
  • Ensure they are someone you can communicate openly with 
  • It’s a two way street, so put the effort in with your mentor


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