Irene, 29, graduated with a Bachelor of Business with majors in Accounting and Finance in 2000. Starting off working in a traditional PAYE job, Irene now combines working in an office with working from home. She works from home two days a week and works in two different offices on the other three days. Working for two quite different companies – a book publisher and a Catholic club – Irene loves the different challenges that her working week brings. She says that she has found the right work balance to suit her energetic lifestyle.
I was always good at Maths at school. My older brother was an accountant before me and he’d get me to help with the family business’ books during my school years. When I went to uni, I did a general business degree majoring in the ‘numbers’ subjects like accounting and finance. It was then that I really decided that I would be an accountant.
Two years ago my best friend asked whether I would be willing to help the business she works for with the accounts and I accepted the job because, at the time, I was only working part time.
They both have their perks. Working from home gives you that flexibility that you don’t always have when you work in an office. On the other hand, working at the club gives me exposure to other people.
The flexibility of working from home has improved my social life, and because I’m more relaxed I have more energy to do extracurricular activities. For example, I do dancing after work quite often, catch up with friends, go to the movies and love shopping. I also love that I can stay in my pyjamas if I want.
I’m a member of the CPA and I’m just about finished all the requirements to become a Certified Practising Accountant. It’s a requirement of CPA Australia membership that I do professional development each year and they send email updates about all matters relating to accounting including legislative changes. If there is a specific tax issue with the ATO, I go directly to the organisation and find out what I need to know. Keeping in touch with colleagues is also a great way to keep up with things generally, plus there’s the Internet and the CPA library – there are plenty of places to get the info I need.
I pay myself monthly and treat it exactly like a salary, except that instead of the employer taking tax out, I take it out myself and put it aside so that, at the end of the financial year, I can pay the tax man.
You have to be motivated, organised and disciplined. It’s great working from home because of the flexibility but you have to be a self-starter and to be able to push yourself rather than having someone pushing you. It’s very easy at home to get blasé and think ‘I’ll just go sit down and do it tomorrow’. You have to be extremely organised right from the beginning and set aside a place in your house just for your work.