Applications for our Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship for Māori accountant students are in full swing! To celebrate the scholarship and give you an understanding of what it’s like to work in BDO’s Māori Business team, we thought we’d share the stories of some of our Māori Business people.
First up in this new series, we hear from Angela Edwards, BDO Māori Business Sector Lead, about quitting school at 16 and how that path eventually led her to become an accountant in BDO’s Māori Business team.
Angela Edwards, Ngāpuhi-Nui-Tonu, BDO Māori Sector Leader, BDO Kerikeri
I left school at 16, and when my aunty found out she made me get a job. My first job was at the post office, which at the time was separated into banking, postal and telephone, so I chose banking. I worked there for four years, had three children and did a number of other jobs in between too, including a course on holistic health, where I became a certified homeobotanist.
One day I was sitting at home, my eldest child had just started school, and I was wondering what I was going to do with my life - then it suddenly came to me - I would be an accountant! I ran next door to my aunty’s house, and she said, “that’s great, we need an accountant in the family!” We got the phone book out and found the nearest place to study, and I began an accounting degree alongside working and raising my kids.
After studying for two years I walked into BDO Kerikeri to drop off my CV. A Partner was walking past, gave me an interview on the spot and then offered me a job. Here I am nearly 20 years later and what a journey it’s been.
Supporting your passions in the Māori business team
Throughout my career I began to work more and more on Māori business clients, it’s great that it’s so relationship-focussed because when you start doing good work for one entity you then get recommended to work for others too. I’ve found BDO really encourages you to follow your passion whatever it is and for me that is Māori business. If someone wants to learn te reo we encourage them to do that, we’ve also had a number of people in the team working on a whānau-led initiative to help with financial literacy, savings and home-buying goals. BDO’s a great place to work because everyone is so flexible, it’s child-friendly so there’ll often be kids running around the office after 3 p.m. which keeps it lively!
I’m not sure I could describe an average week because there aren’t really any here. I work across audit and advisory for a range of Māori business clients and Not-for-Profits, as well as entities established under the Te Ture Whenua Act. This week I’ve been carrying out strategic reviews for Ahu Whenua trusts, as well as doing virtual CFO work and volunteer work for Not-for-Profits.
I’m out and about a lot of the time at client sites. Every other Tuesday we also give a half day to run tech Tuesdays in Kaikohe, where we go out and help people in their business with things like Xero training. We also have a walk-in Wednesdays for clients and non-clients to come and ask us any questions that they may have.
For me the scholarship is a vehicle to assist people to reach their goals where financial hardship is a barrier. The scholarship gives them a viable opportunity to help them financially with their study but also to give them a foot in the door for someone who may have no experience in the profession and perhaps no contacts either. It also will hopefully help people in the regions who may live far away from universities to see that there’s a pathway for them.
There’s something extra special for Māori business, we’re really trying with the scholarships to bring Māori through pathways that they haven’t found as easy as others to come through – even if we just get one who decides to become an accountant that’s one more for the sector.
If you’re thinking about applying to the Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship and would like to learn more about what it’s like to work at BDO, our Māori Business Team are happy to kōrero with you. Either drop into your local BDO office or contact us.