Date posted: 16/08/2021 9 min read

NSW Councillor – Finance Director David Watkins CA

Let’s hear from NSW Council Member David Watkins CA about his work, views and what he has been up to recently

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand has regional councils across Australia and leadership committees around New Zealand to ensure that members have their say in the organisation’s strategy and directions.

Following on from our feature on NSW Councillor Camille Woods CA, hear from David Watkins CA, who joined the New South Wales Council at the start of 2021.

1. Please give us a brief introduction of yourself 

I am Dave Watkins and I joined council at the start of 2021 after being a Chartered Accountant for 16 years.

After training at Ernst & Young, I’ve held various roles within the accounting industry and currently I am the CFO of JCDecaux Australia and New Zealand, a world-leading outdoor advertising agency.

I applied to join Council as I thought it was time that I contributed back to our membership body and felt it was the right time for me to do so. Specifically, I am passionate about helping improve the CA Programme and CA Mentoring Programme and I am enthusiastic about the diversity and inclusion activities CA ANZ is focusing on for the membership body.

2. What’s the best piece of advice that you have received while being a CA?

I have two – “Good things take time” and to get yourself a good mentor who you can speak to outside your organisation (ideally more than one). Mentors can validate your thinking and provide guidance, they can also draw on their experience and knowledge to help you make informed decisions about your career. My experience has been that the information flow goes both ways.

Chartered Accountants always strive for that next promotion, new opportunity, or a bump in salary often before they have bedded down the opportunity they are currently in. I can honestly look back on my career over the last 10 years and on several occasions, reflect on what I did at the time in an effort to progress quickly, compared how I would deal with a similar situation now given the experience and knowledge I’ve gained since. There is the inbuilt real confidence you gain when you have seen a couple of variations of the same problem. With gained confidence through experience, you can move quicker because you know how it might play out and overall be more effective in your role because you don’t second guess yourself. You only get that with time and patience.

To illustrate the point around mentoring, I spent some time with an experienced Finance Director a few years ago and since then we have kept in touch which has been very helpful. Our sessions were spent with him telling me to slow down and take a longer-term perspective of my career. I expect it felt like Groundhog Day every month that we caught up, as I would always have a new idea for him and he would always bring me back to the plan and objectives we set at the start of our mentoring programme. If it wasn’t for him keeping me level-headed I wouldn’t be in the role I have today as I would have jumped to a shiny new role and would probably still be seeking my first CFO role.

3. Where do members go to find out more information on Council?

The NSW Council represents members interests facilitated through direct input from members, various working groups, sector and local committees and shared knowledge from other regional councils.

To find out more or to get involved, reach out to the regional councillor that represents your area. The NSW council is a diverse group of individuals reflecting our membership body. We all come from different backgrounds with varying interests, but with the common goal to represent and be the voices of our members. 

When I applied for the role as a councillor I knew very little about the role of Council and objectives the Council played within the organisation. The CA ANZ website has a comprehensive Governance section which allowed me to gain a better understanding of the Council as set out by the Regional Council Charter and the members in each region.

4. How do members contribute to Council?

Council is an interface that members can access to communicate issues and priorities to the CA ANZ organisation. Council has a role to ensure members interests are reflected in the work CA ANZ does, and we can only be effective if we are connected with the broader member base.

Each councillor brings different experiences and passions to the table with examples including mental health for accountants, advocacy around diversity and inclusion and government policy, to ensuring CA ANZ provides the right level of support to mid-size to small professional CA firms across NSW.

In my opinion, the best way for anyone reading this to contribute is to communicate directly with your local council and provide feedback because that’s what the Council is there to facilitate. 

Track them down on LinkedIn or through CA ANZ and let them know what you need as a member. Another way would be to attend an event, either a CA ANZ education session or a social event, Councillors are usually well represented at these events and we are all very approachable. To find out information on current events visit the New South Wales events page. You can also email the council at [email protected]

5. What do you do outside of work and Council?

I have a young family with a two year and four-year-old who keep my wife and I very busy. With the lockdown in Sydney I have been able to spend more time with them which I have really come to appreciate and something I will look to build into my routine going forward.

I run half marathons to de-stress and that’s become my main hobby in recent years as well as playing soccer with some school mates in an over 35s team.

I love soccer and tennis and I’m an avid supporter of Fulham Football Club in London. I can’t wait for the English Premier League to start this year even though my team was demoted. Like many other Australians I can’t wait for the borders to open – I am keen to take a family holiday somewhere like Hawaii.

6. Have you picked up a new skill or hobby during lockdown?

Like many people during lockdown - I have recently picked up home hair dressing unsuccessfully and I’m sporting a blade 3 crew cut at the moment which was self-imposed. It is quite fortunate you can’t see the back of my head on conference calls because it’s a shocker.

I was learning French during the early stages of the pandemic but dropped it as other commitments came up. I work for a French company so learning French had some relevance given in a normal (pre-COVID-19) world as I’d be there a few times a year. Answering this question has made me think I will look at having another crack at trying to get past beginner level A2 next term!

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