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GRC Professional : GRC Summer 2013
40 GRC Professional • Summer 2013 END NOTE My career » You chose your career later than most, juggling raising three children and study. Tell us why you took the path you did and how it led to compliance. I elected to go back and do my HSC [at 29] and qualify for something that would assist me to get a good job and support my children. A BComm was both specific and broad in its application, and there were no shortage of jobs. I really enjoyed the legal aspects of the accounting profession. When PriceWaterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand merged, I was mapped to compliance risk as part of our global risk practice because there was no global competency for superannuation. With the challenge of developing our offering and approach to compliance in an increasingly regulated environment I took the bull by the horns. » What drives you? Three fundamental beliefs shape my life and my work. The first is that you are a long time dead, so make the most of today because tomorrow may never come. The second is asking what's the worst that can happen? Many employees are fearful of making mistakes, having a go, or saying no. As long as you are drawing breath then you are okay, so take a risk -- even a little one. The third is family. It gives all and forgives all; don't take it for granted. » What are the most valuable lessons you have learned along the way? To listen, be curious, know that others may have the answer, that perfection serves no one, and that self-awareness lets you be you and therefore a better leader. To have a good work relationship you need to understand why the relationship exists and why it is beneficial to both parties. You need to be open and authentic. The 80/20 rule rules. Tell the truth because people can't argue with it. Finally, be happy. » What do you consider your most important achievements in your job? Coaching and developing our people to be the best they can be either at PwC or elsewhere; developing new partners; working with clients to find business-focused solutions to compliance issues; blazing a trail and being innovative; building sustainable practices that I could hand over to others and being blessed with the opportunity to lead amazing people and learn from them. » What is the single most important piece of advice you can give a person considering compliance for a career? If you want to succeed for yourself and the business you have to able to be on the dance floor and on the balcony -- not either or. It is about helping drive the right business outcome within the constraints of stakeholder expectations. ••• Sandra Birkensleigh will retire soon from PwC after a stellar career starting as a junior consultant in the actuarial and superannuation practice, rising to lead governance, risk and compliance work in Australia and overseas. If you want to succeed for yourself and the business, you have to able to be on the dance floor and on the balcony -- not either/or.
GRC Spring 2012
GRC Autumn 2013