Become a CPA: Career advice from a successful accountant

Glenn Bain

Glenn Bain CPA's curiosity introduced him to accounting. It's what his learnt since then that has seen the 31-year-old leading a team of 15 at one of Australia’s largest government departments.

Glenn is Technical Leader at the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and also fills in as Team Leader and Assistant Director when required.

“For the first four years of my career with the ATO, I worked within an audit team, which focused on small and medium-sized enterprises and high wealth individuals. I enjoyed this type of work and through determination was rapidly promoted,” says Glenn.

Accounting by chance

But accounting wasn’t Glenn’s first career choice. He initially studied Marketing at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, but soon discovered this career path wasn’t for him.

“Curiosity led me into studying accounting. I knew every business needed accounting advice, so I was certain there would be a job at the end of the study for me.”

After graduating from university, Glenn was offered a position in the SA Government’s Treasury and Finance program.

“I was grateful for the opportunity, but I was placed in a hospital finance department. It was a flat organisational structure and I wasn’t working with qualified accountants. After six months, I worked out that the hospital environment wasn’t for me.”

Reach for your potential

He then successfully applied for an auditing position at the ATO and Glenn hasn’t looked back.

“The work is interesting and challenging. My typical day involves mentoring audit staff, providing technical advice on tax, accounting and legal matters, attending taxpayer interviews, attending planning meetings and making audit decisions.”

A diverse background

In his spare time, Glenn is studying a Bachelor of Law at the University of South Australia and is also on the CPA Australia Divisional Council.

“It has been great for networking and I have met with just about every high level CPA in Adelaide. I have also enjoyed working and providing advice to university students as they head into the workforce.”

When asked why he decided to study the CPA Program, Glenn said it was an easy decision to make because he knew it would help his career and create new opportunities.

“I am regularly asked what I do for a living. I respond by saying ‘I’m a CPA’. Instantly, their body language is at ease knowing that I have a professional qualification. It was a long journey to get to the CPA level, something that I am immensely proud of.”

From CPA to politician

Glenn has big plans for his future and is even eyeing off a career in politics.

“After eight years in audit, this year I will be looking to move into a legal role within the ATO. I want to gain new skills and work in an area where I can get support for my legal practicing certificate. I am involved in politics, and would one day like to enter this arena full time. Cliché, I know, but I would like to make a bigger difference. There are many CPAs in politics. The Governor in South Australia is a CPA.”

Glenn Bain CPA’s tips for young professionals and university students:

  • Continue to study, until you know it’s time to stop. The skills you learn will assist you in differentiating yourself from others
  • If you don’t give, you won’t get back. Volunteering has assisted in opening up my networks. It’s also good to have an interest outside of work
  • Don’t dwell on setbacks for too long. Learn and move on

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