Become a CPA: What the CPA designation can do for you

Putting CPA next to her name was a happy moment. Stay positive and other tips.

A strong desire to help others succeed has taken Valerie Biggs CPA to extraordinary heights. 

But it was volunteer roles as a CPA Australia representative councillor and as chairperson for the Victorian Women's CPA Network that really opened doors to a successful career in the banking industry.

A career in finance and accounting

Valerie started her career as an accountant at SalesForce after finishing a bachelor of commerce, accounting and commercial law at the University of Sydney. But Valerie was soon drawn to the banking industry.

“With my previous role, I wasn’t involved in the decision-making process, I only recorded what had happened. I wanted to be part of the decision-making process. In banking, I get to be one of the customers’ trusted advisers. It's very rewarding when you are involved in your customers’ growth,” Valerie says. 

In 2011, she successfully applied for a business banking associate position at NAB in Melbourne. Four years on, she is a business banking manager there. Valerie says every day at NAB brings new challenges and opportunities to learn.

“My portfolio of customers at NAB is very diverse and I get to work with all types of industries. I have property development, trading businesses, manufacturing and wholesaling customers. Not a single day of my job is the same. I am currently working on an exciting and complicated transaction that involves a few components, requiring engagement from colleagues that specialise in those areas. The aim is to provide the customer with the solution that works best for them.” 

The CPA Designation opens doors to your career

Valerie says one of her biggest career achievements was being awarded the CPA designation in 2008.

“The day I was able to put the three letters ‘CPA’ next to my name was one of my happiest moments because it felt like my hard work and discipline had paid off.”

She says the knowledge and practical experience gathered along the way gave her confidence that she could do her job successfully.

Upon completion, Valerie discovered she suddenly had extra time on her hands. She decided to take up volunteering. Three years later, in 2013, she became chairperson of the Victorian Women’s CPA Network.

“Through my involvement in the committee, I have got to meet a lot of successful and interesting people who I am continuously learning from. It has also opened doors for me and expanded my skills. Just recently, I was on a panel of three speakers for CPA Australia’s International Women’s Day celebration.”

As for her future, Valerie says her five-year plan is on track. She hopes to one day lead her own team.

Valerie Biggs CPA’s tips for people starting their careers: 

  • Believe in yourself and your ability 
  • Be positive and when you see a problem, think outside the box for a solution 
  • Always have a plan: without one, you’re planning to fail

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