Business graduates recognised with Alumni award
People may not immediately think of accountants as changemakers but their work often happens at the ‘coal face’, where their decisions can truly help people, says Rachel Grimes, President of the International Federation of Accountants.
Grimes, winner of this year’s UTS Alumni Award for Excellence, Business, has carried that thought with her since graduating with a Bachelor of Business in Accounting in 1991.
Grimes and Om Dhungel, a refugee advocate and UTS Business School MBA graduate who is this year’s winner of the UTS International Alumni Award, shared their stories at the UTS Alumni Awards for 2017 ...
Rachel Grimes, now Westpac Group’s Chief Financial Officer for Technology, says her passion for making a difference began at an early age.
“Wonderful Loreto nuns taught me that you can do anything. So find what needs doing. They establish schools all over the world, setting up in places that you wouldn’t want to go on holidays, and they change peoples’ lives for the better,” Grimes says.
Her experience studying at UTS built on that foundation, teaching her that the work of accountants can truly assist people, and that fixing ethics as the cornerstone of every decision can make the world a better place.
It’s an ethos that Grimes has applied throughout her career. As CFO of Technology at Westpac she oversees a major budget. Previously, she was Director of Mergers and Acquisitions and was the co-lead on the bank’s merger with St George, which was the largest financial services transaction in Australia’s history.
Who knows where an opportunity can take you? Forget leaning in – put your hand up, make sure it’s seen and get involved.
In her role as President of the International Federation of Accountants, she has chaired its Technology Advisory Committee, looking to drive the future of accountancy and ensure that standards are appropriate and relevant for global users.
As a passionate champion for diversity, she has also been instrumental in establishing training programs and mentoring networks to encourage more women and Indigenous Australians to become accountants.
Om Dhungel undertook his MBA at the Business School with the support of UTS after fleeing Bhutan. Since graduating in 2001 has forged a remarkable business career while also helping others in need and shaping the agenda by promoting a strength-based approach to refugee resettlement.
“Every individual, whatever the situation may be, has strengths,” he says. “If we help them discover those strengths, people are able to look after themselves.”
In 1992 Dhungel crossed from Bhutan to Nepal to escape arrest and torture for his political views, leaving behind his wife, two-year-old daughter and a stellar career in telecommunications with the Government of Bhutan.
He came to Australia in 1998 and began an MBA at UTS to build on his business leadership skills. He worked in a supermarket every spare hour “to scratch together money to live on and pay for fees”. He was eventually granted asylum and permanent residency in Australia in 2000.
“In my final year, one of my teachers helped me apply for a $5000 scholarship,” he recalls. “That support and the fantastic counselling service at UTS saved me when I was on the verge of giving up.”
Dhungel’s MBA has had a significant impact on his career, setting him up for leadership roles at Telstra and in the community, including his role as Founding President of the Association of Bhutanese in Australia.
In 2016 he was selected as a Westpac Social Change Fellow, and he has now established a consultancy facilitating that strength-based approach to refugee settlement and community development.
UTS Business alumni Karen Zhang (Bachelor of Business - 2016) and Aaron Ngan (Bachelor of Business - 2016) were Masters of Ceremonies for this year’s Alumni Awards gala event.
“I hope that I can one day contribute as much to society as these wonderful human beings have and that I can do my bit to help those around me to do the same,” Ngan said.