27th November, 2020

What makes a winner? Accountants Daily 30 Under 30

As we gear up for the second annual Accountants Daily 30 Under 30 Awards, we decided to ask some of last year’s winners what the judges are looking for, and just what the awards mean for the industry.

Last year, MYOB helped announce the inaugural Accountants Daily 30 Under 30 Awards, which recognise the achievements of up-and-coming young accountants from across Australia.

And while this year’s event is shaping up to look a little different without being able to have a crowd gather in one place for it, it nevertheless looks set to be a rare highlight for the accounting industry in what has otherwise been a shocking year.

With Accountants Daily having recently announced the list of finalists for this year’s awards, we thought it would be a good time to catch up with some of last year’s award winners and see what winning meant to them, as well as what they think the judges are likely to be looking for this year.

Winning quality #1: An industry-wide reputation

In order to first be listed for a category, entrants for the 30 Under 30 provide a submission document (or have someone else provide one on their behalf), detailing their recent wins and successes.

It’s this stage of the process that this year’s nominees have already successfully passed, and it’s these submissions that will go on to form the basis on which the panellists will judge them on to determine a winner for each category.

Declan Lane, assistant manager for Worrells Solvency & Forensic Accountants, won the 2019 30 Under 30 Awards for Restructuring & Insolvency.

“Last year I was fortunate to have worked on the voluntary administration of Napoleon Perdis — an iconic Australian makeup brand. While working on the administration I was exposed to a vast variety of restructuring and insolvency issues that you don’t see everyday.

“It was for this I was able to apply myself and assist in the restructuring and eventual sale of the business.

“The amount of media that generated created a key part in the visibility of that project and I think that certainly helped.”

But it’s not just the amount of attention you receive from the industry that gets you a winning spot at the table, according to Lane. He recommends the judges will be looking for winners with true leadership and emotional gravity.

“Panellists are looking for those young people who have the skills and leadership to assist businesses both large and small, while also showing empathy for their clients in all situations.”

Winning quality #2: Demonstrable innovation

Along with strong leadership skills, entrants to the 30 Under 30 are more likely to win their category if they can demonstrate how they’ve impacted their field through innovative thinking or a fresh perspective.

Such is the case for Olivia Palfreyman, administration manager at Palfreyman Chartered Accountants, who won the 30 Under 30 Wellness Advocate of the Year in 2019.

“I come from a sociological background of management, which is a different approach than what you might learn in business management and I think the judges were particularly interested in that.

“What gets people over the line is when the judges read entrants’ responses and say, ‘That’s a breath of fresh air; it’s an insightful, unique approach and this person has pushed hard through boundaries, taken the risks and made a positive impact’.”

In fact, the experience of last year’s 30 Under 30 Awards has proved to Palfreyman that young people in the accounting industry really can have a meaningful impact and help shape the future, and the awards are merely testament to that.

“As a young professional it can be easy to get stuck in the idea you won’t have a big impact because you don’t have much influence, but if anything these awards prove that isn’t the case.”

Winning quality #3: Supreme determination

Not one of the past award winners we surveyed could be described as anything less than tireless when it comes to their devotion to their field and their clients, and this is a big success factor when it comes to securing a 30 Under 30 Award.

Scott Nicol, transactions manager for McGrathNicol, won the Mergers & Acquisitions category in 2019. He agrees that winners must have an impressive resume to secure their place, which takes a lot of hard work, but he also says there’s more to it than just elbow grease.

“All of the award winners and nominees have worked extremely hard to get where they are, but there’s also a lot to be said for the organisations that support them along the way.

“Regardless of whether you’re a solo accountant or working as part of a large firm, the structure that exists to support your work is critical to the quality of work you can deliver — and that has real impacts on client outcomes.”

Nicol says that, while he’s only worked in the mergers and acquisitions space for a relatively short time, he wouldn’t have received the same experience and opportunities if it wasn’t for the firm behind him.

30 Under 30 in 2020 — a big year deserves big kudos

Of all the advice and insight shared by past winners, one sentiment remained consistent: a win in 2020 will be a win unlike any others.

That’s because, regardless of what specialisation or field they work in, accountants have had to dig deep to find new levels of resilience in a year beleaguered by setbacks, downtime and struggling clients.

So far, there hasn’t been much to look forward to in 2020 other than its end. No doubt the Accountants Daily 30 Under 30 Awards will provide a highlight to the finish of a dark year.

Accountants Daily has announced this year’s ceremony will be a Live Stream awards experience, bringing the excitement and pizzazz of the awards directly to your home. The Awards will kick off Thursday, 3 December at 7:30PM AEDT. Register your attendance now.