This is the third and final article profiling CPA Australia members and their career journeys to date.
He's only 26 but Tom Frost has a good grip on the rest of his professional life – and figures a lot of that is due to the way he managed his qualifications.
Frost is a commercial financial analyst for Goodman Fielder, based in Auckland, and has already packed quite a bit of experience into his life as a qualified Certified Practising Accountant (CPA). That includes a three-and-a-half year stint with "Big Four" practice KPMG and three months' work experience in KPMG's Luxembourg operation in Europe.
"I was auditing at that stage," Frost says of his Luxembourg sojourn, "but now my daily responsibilities at Goodman Fielder are providing daily insights against the company's categories and brands."
Goodman Fielder's categories are dairy, baking and grocery and include brands like Vogels, Meadow Fresh, Puhoi Valley and Molenberg; Frost tracks the various brands' performance in retail outlets like supermarkets.
"I also perform some deep dives to support our sales teams and another key role is that of a business partner with our marketing team."
It's an interesting job which Frost says he is enjoying – and he is also excited about the path his qualifications have potentially laid out for him.
Once he achieved his B. Com in accounting and economics at the University of Otago, he embarked on the three-year CPA Program to achieve CPA status – something he counts as vital for his career.
"That's where the interesting jobs are and where the international recognition comes in," he says, "and the CPA Program has that recognition."
For Frost, the big advantage of the CPA Program was its structure and flexibility. It had clearly articulated targets which meant Frost could balance his work-life-study time.
"Flexibility was a big thing for me; it meant I could get on with performing my job but also plan and find plenty of time to study the CPA Program when it suited my schedule. The alternative organisations didn't really give me the same level of flexibility – there were numerous tests coming up that you had to study for – and, with my job, that didn't really fit with me…there was always a deadline I would have to meet."
The CPA Program had deadlines too but Frost felt they were much better spaced and could allow him not only to focus on his job but also to work in some much-needed leisure time.
"I found the CPA Program really useful and a lot of the colleagues I was working with had also opted for that when they were qualifying."
Frost is happy to be extending his commercial knowledge at Goodman Fielder having gained his CPA status in June. While further overseas experience is of interest, for now he is enjoying putting his skills to use in one of Asia-Pacific's largest and most respected food companies.
"There is no doubt that qualification is important. When I was looking for jobs, it became clear that most organisations want qualified accountants – you can't really get the roles I was looking for without it. From the employers' perspective, they know what they are going to get, and it is an important differentiation between candidates."
To find out more about becoming a CPA, visit cpaaustralia.com.au/now