Bachelor of Business in Accounting, 1991
CFO Technology, Westpac Group
UTS Alumni Award for Excellence 2017 – Faculty of Business
Rachel Grimes is internationally recognised in her field, both for her achievements as an accountant, and for her talent in lifting other people up with her.
“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.”
Rachel’s experience studying at UTS built on that foundation; teaching her that the work of accountants often happens at the ‘coal face’ where the decisions they make can truly assist people, and that fixing ethics as the cornerstone of every decision can make the world a better place.
Who knows where an opportunity can take you? Forget leaning in – put your hand up, make sure it’s seen and get involved.
“My peers at other universities said their courses were so dry, whereas we had lecturers like Jon Tyler (UTS Business School Associate Professor) educating us by using practical examples. Other courses focused on frameworks exploring how situations like the Space Shuttle Colombia and the Zeebrugge ferry disaster could have been avoided. These were real topics that were interesting and made you want to do well.”
It’s an ethos that Rachel has applied throughout her career. As CFO of Technology at Westpac she oversees a major budget for its technology needs. 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. In her role as President of the International Federation of Accountants, Rachel has also been responsible for chairing 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, Rachel has been instrumental in establishing training programs and mentoring networks to encourage more women and Indigenous Australians to become accountants.
A long-time sports enthusiast, Rachel funded her university experience by teaching tennis, and even considered sports journalism at UTS early on. She has served on the Tennis Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, and now works alongside Surfing Australia’s Chair Layne Beachley as Chair of the Finance and Risk Committee, during this exciting period as surfing becomes an Olympic sport.
“Who knows where anything can take you? Forget leaning in – put your hand up, make sure it’s seen and get involved. My great love of sport led me to the ICAA Tennis Committee, which led to other committees, to having the opportunity to meet with the Pope,” she says with a smile, “and that’s how I eventually became President of all the accountants in the world.”