Date posted: 29/09/2020

Case Study: Moditha Perera CA

Ten years into her career, Moditha Perera CA says she genuinely loves her work, as she advises the QIC finance team on complex technical accounting issues.

In brief

  • Moditha Perera CA has become a strong collaborator, communicator and problem solver at QIC
  • Perera advises the QIC finance team on complex technical accounting issues
  • She’s involved in in-house training with CA ANZ for QIC’s ‘standards of excellence’

As accounting policy lead at Brisbane-based QIC, Moditha Perera CA advises the finance team on complex technical accounting issues. She’s learned she has to be a strong collaborator, communicator and problem solver to be successful.

“It’s fundamentally what every accountant needs to know, but at the same time it’s about building skills such as how to communicate, how to deal with stakeholders or how to break down complex accounting issues into simple language,” she says.

QIC manages about A$80 billion in assets on behalf of clients that include real estate, infrastructure and liquid assets. Perara’s role in the financial solutions team is to support the work of the other finance teams dealing with those assets. 

“When there's complex transactions, or just new transactions that the finance accountants want to bounce off someone, they'll reach out to me to discuss any technical accounting issues,” she says. “I have to do a lot of problem solving and it’s something I really enjoy.”

Standards of excellence 

QIC has its own standards of excellence – capabilities that it sees as critical to its success. “Basically, these are the soft skills that we want everyone in QIC to have,” says Perera. They include effective leadership, accountability, communication, employee development and collaboration.

Perera says training, supported by external trainers including from CA ANZ, is important to maintaining the team’s high standards.

QIC’s finance leadership and CA ANZ worked together to map their standards of excellence into soft skill training courses for CAs. That led to a customised program that was reviewed by the CFO and the heads of finance before being rolled out to the whole finance team. And last year, CA ANZ also began delivering technical accounting training tailored to QIC’s needs. 

“It’s fundamentally what every accountant needs to know, but at the same time it’s about building skills such as how to communicate, how to deal with stakeholders, or how to break down complex accounting issues into simple language,” 
Moditha Perera CA, QIC Accounting Policy lead

“Feedback so far has been really positive,” Perera says. “We’ll definitely keep going with it. It’s really important for accountants to be across changing standards and this is the best targeted way to roll out training.”

Learning in context is definitely a more useful way of learning, she says. “If it’s out of context, it can be a bit abstract because you can’t apply that knowledge. It just doesn't make sense. So, we’ve tried to connect the training to the job they're doing so they can make sense of that training in real time. In my experience, that’s when it really works.”

A strong skill set

After studying law and commerce at the University of Queensland and qualifying as both a CA and a lawyer, Perera started her career in KPMG’s audit department in Brisbane. She was particularly interested in technical advisory work and at that time there wasn't an advisory section in the Brisbane office. So, she transferred to the Sydney office for three years where she was able to hone her technical accounting skills.

“But after a while, I realised I couldn’t envisage myself as a senior manager or partner in a consulting firm and I wanted to try something different,” she says. Perera moved into a budgeting and forecasting role in a commercial company, but within a year discovered that she missed working on more technical matters. 

Her next job was at Macquarie Group as a manager in its technical accounting advisory team where she faced her biggest learning curve. “I got to see and work on some innovative and complex transactions which were really fascinating,” she says. 

After almost two years, she decided to return to her family in Brisbane for personal reasons. That’s where Perera found a job as a senior manager and technical accounting adviser at QIC. 

She genuinely loves her job. “I'm in the space that I want to be, but because I'm in such a specialised field, there's probably only so much progress I can make in terms of seniority,” she says.

“The good thing is that I have a particular technical skill set that I keep expanding. I’m also building my soft skills at the same time and it’s all these skills that will help me wherever I choose to go next, whenever that is.” 

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