With the varied experience Benesch has it’s tough to narrow down one speciality he possesses.
“I was referred to as the ‘MacGyver of finance’ at Vodafone due to the varied roles I played. At a high-level, I help to align strategic direction with financial ambition,” he says.
He says he “largely stumbled” into accounting.
“It’s been a product of the professional opportunities I’ve had and the continuous learning I’ve pursued. A previous mentor referred to my career as logical incrementalism – continuing to progress in my career with the next logical opportunity.
“Given my non-accounting degree and diverse experience, I’ve always had to explain and justify my accounting acumen and financial experience.”
Benesch says his well-rounded experience outside his profession, as well as his rock-solid practical knowledge of business gave him an ideal springboard for entry into the CPA Program, which provides accounting professionals with a globally recognised designation.
“I’ve always found practical learning easier and more rewarding than theory,” he says.
“Not only does the business experience provide context to the CPA Program, the material directly applies to my professional roles.
“I’ve learned things through my CPA studies that I’ve immediately applied in my role. It’s a much more rewarding learning experience; much more so than I remembered from my university days.”
He says continuing study throughout his career has been vital.
“With the pace of change in today’s world, especially with the advances in technology, I’ve found that continuous learning is one of the only ways to advance in your career.
“Whether it’s becoming an expert in spreadsheets or obtaining an advanced degree, I’ve found that organisations reward those who work to gain practical skills relevant to their roles.
“This has definitely been my experience, and the CPA Program has been a great and relevant incremental skill.”
Benesch says a lot of people “associate CPAs with taxes”.
“That’s the naive view I had at university, and one of the reasons I didn’t pursue accounting in school.
“Through my experience, I’ve found accounting and the understanding of financial information key to every aspect of a business, at least to every role I’ve had.”
He says business leaders who understand accounting are the most successful, regardless of their position.
CPA Australia’s CEO Andrew Hunter says as far as non-traditional pathways into the profession go, “there’s no such thing as a typical accountant”.
“We’re increasingly seeing professionals from different backgrounds joining the accounting profession or choosing to pick up accounting skills,” says Hunter.
“Our membership is really diverse. That’s not just about what they do and who they are, but where they work. Our members span across every sector and industry.
“CPAs have a strong desire to have a positive impact and contribution. Lots of our members work in for-purpose organisations and not-for-profits.”
Hunter says CPAs are at the forefront of advising governments and businesses on managing climate change and other social issues.
“We’re increasingly seeing science professionals, particularly in the environmental sector, interested in accounting,” he says.
“Accounting skills gained through undertaking the CPA Program provide a strong foundation for people looking to explore non-traditional careers and emerging sectors.
“This diversity among the profession is reflected in what we offer aspiring CPAs.”
Increasingly, says Hunter, businesses are selecting CPAs to be their strategic partners.
“Having a strong skill set and knowledge base is critical to ensure you can fulfil the needs of businesses in today’s uncertain environment,” he says.
“Accounting is a profession, it’s not just a job. Being a member means CPA Australia is invested in your professional success. It also means other members are invested in your success.
“The CPA designation is globally recognised and respected. The CPA Program helps you continually develop your knowledge base at all stages of your career.”
Most members stay with CPA Australia throughout their careers because they find it helps them achieve their professional goals wherever they are in their career, says Hunter.
A mix of distance learning and practical experience, the CPA Program is flexible and self-paced, “so it won’t disrupt your full-time or part time job”, says Hunter.
“You can work, and earn an income, while completing your study and undertaking ongoing learning.
“Like post-graduate study, it helps people stand out, whether they’re going for a job or positioning themselves for a promotion.
“Lots of aspiring CPAs work and do the CPA Program at the same time, so they can become a CPA even faster.”
The CPA Program is designed to create business professionals, so the focus of subjects goes well beyond technical skills to strategic business and leadership skills, he says.
“Members have access to a huge range of professional resources and guidance, as well as opportunities to contribute to shaping the profession.”
To learn more, visit www.cpaaustralia.com.au.
Read More: Fully loaded mind is the ultimate business tool, says the ‘MacGyver of finance’