Meet Lisa Harris – Senior Accountant
Tell us about yourself
I worked as a bookkeeper and assistant accountant for 20 years before obtaining my Master’s degree and becoming a CPA. In addition, I spent 21 years as a medic and rose to the level of Company Sargent Major with the Army Reserve.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t fit the “traditional” idea of an accountant. My husband and I both ride Super Tourer motorbikes and one of our favourite outings is a ride to Wollongong or the Blue Mountains, breakfast at our favourite café, then a ride home.
On rainy days, I love to watch movies and work on my embroidery. My clients are always surprised when they learn about my bike. People assume accountants don’t have a life, but that’s not true.
How long have you worked for Alteris and what is it about your role that you love?
I have been with the company for four and a half years. When it comes to work, I credit strong female role models for assisting in furthering my career and I have always been passionate about giving back to the next generation of female accountants and financial advisers. One of the most satisfying parts of my job is having a set of accounts finished and ready to present to clients. A career highlight was helping to build the Alteris accounting team and growing that division of the business.
“Helping our clients understand their accounts and taxes, and completing them right, and on time, is what drives me”
What has been your experience as a member of Alteris Women?
Being an integral part of the Alteris Women community has allowed me to take advantage of the mentorship available, as well as to offer mentorship to other women and men within the organisation – I find this aspect incredibly fulfilling. I also value the time I spend working directly with clients on a personal level, getting to understand their needs, and helping them achieve their goals.
How has COVID affected your work?
I am a lover of person-to-person interaction, so I’ve really found COVID has had an effect on the type of relationship I’m able to nurture and develop with my clients. The restrictions have made us all feel more separated from clients and I’ve found we haven’t been able to get to know each other as much, and that’s been challenging because one of the things I love the most is talking with my clients, finding out their stories and getting to know them better.
What do you feel you personally bring to your role?
I’ve always loved teaching and I think I’ve always been good at passing on knowledge. During my time in the Defence force I taught first aid to new recruits. At Alteris, I teach accountants and really value the opportunity to share my years of accumulated knowledge and expertise with a new generation of accountants. I also think it’s important to make sure that clients truly understand their accounts, so I make sure all the numbers are put into context for them – and that can be as complicated or as simple as needed.
What is the most common question you are asked as an accountant?
Everyone wants to know what they can claim as a tax deduction and how to maximise their refund. And that’s where we always come back to an understanding of their accounts and what’s relevant for their personal or business situation.
What would you say to those considering accounting as a career?
For anyone considering going into this field, I highly recommend undertaking an accounting degree. For experience, I advise new graduates to work in one of the “big four” accounting firms. This is a very effective means by which younger people can gain valuable skills and begin to decide which avenue of accounting they would like to pursue. There are many options within the accounting field and it’s not a career where anyone is restricted to only one area, so a larger firm is a good stepping-stone to deciding on where they would like to go.
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