Richard Hurst is a Relationships Manager for Indigenous Accountants Australia.

Mob: Gamilaroi people of North-Western New South Wales
Studies: Bachelor of Business and Commerce, University of Western Sydney
Title: Relationships Manager

What’s your background?

I grew up in Coogee, Sydney but I’m descended from the Gamilaroi people of North-Western New South Wales.

What is your current job and how did you get involved in it?

I’m the Relationships Manager for Indigenous Accountants Australia. Interestingly, I got the job because a good friend told me about the opening. It just goes to show that you should never underestimate the value of a strong social and professional network!

The overall mission of Indigenous Accountants Australia is to support Indigenous students who may be interested in, or are currently undertaking, tertiary qualifications in business, economics, finance and accounting. I support these efforts by liaising with professional accreditation bodies, like Chartered Accountants Australia, to ensure Indigenous students can take advantage of as many opportunities as possible.

What makes accounting such a rewarding profession for Indigenous students?

Traditionally, talented and ambitious Indigenous students have gravitated towards professions in law and medicine. Accountancy offers a stimulating and rewarding alternative with equivalent stability and excellent pay. Accounting students will graduate with a versatile degree that allows them to work in a range of organisations, from global companies to community-oriented grassroots initiatives. This in turn means that they have innumerable opportunities to give back to their communities.

Do you have any advice for Indigenous students?

Never forget where you’ve come from – that can be a source of incredible strength. It can be particularly beneficial to connect with other Indigenous professionals and gain inspiration from their stories and achievements.

How can Indigenous students find an employer that offers the right cultural fit for them?

Many organisations have implemented reconciliation action plans (RAP), which represent their commitment to supporting Indigenous employees. For example, many RAPs include special provisions for employees who might need to return to remote areas at short notice for community or family events.

Students can also seek out prospective employers whose values align well with their own. This could mean making some tough decisions. For example, students with a strong connection to the land, may feel uncomfortable working for mining companies in certain parts of rural Australia. Others may be drawn towards such organisations with the hope of affecting positive change from within. Either way, it’s important to have a clear sense of your goals and motivations.