Paula Chegwidden … a year with Accounting For Good
“I’ve always had a strong sense of social justice… I really want to change the world.”
Paula Chegwidden joined the Accounting For Good Account Manager team in June 2018. With over 20 years’ experience within the not for profit (NFP) sector she brought with her a wealth of knowledge and a passion to help people.
Over the last 12 months, Paula has enjoyed developing strong relationships with our clients and has become a dedicated member of our team. We chatted with her about her past experiences and her move into a different area within the world of NFP.
The desire to help people and to balance inequality is an intrinsic part of Paula’s character. She recognised this in her teenage years, and it led her to study sociology and social policy at university. Once she gained her bachelor’s degree, she went on to do a masters in community management.
After university, Paula immediately started working within the not for profit sector… and her commitment to the community has never diminished.
“When I left uni, my first job was working within the church. Since then I’ve always worked in not for profits. My whole career has been spent working with charities.”
Paula’s experience covers many different community organisations and much of her time has been spent in senior management roles. Within these management positions she found that she was often the conduit between the finance team and the services or operations departments. Her ability to communicate with the different divisions helped to unify the teams and maintained each organisation’s primary focus.
“It was my responsibility to help the different departments appreciate each other. Each department has different needs, but they don’t always understand the reasons they can or can’t do things. There is always a need for regulations, so it was my job to make sure people were aware of the best way to achieve the organisation’s goals within the limitations of budget.”
Accounting For Good
A little over 12 months ago, Paula decided she wanted a change. After many years in CEO or managing director roles she was looking for something different and Accounting For Good offered just that.
“I joined Accounting For Good because I wanted to move away from being heavily involved in a single organisation. As managing director, I had been looking after every aspect of a small community-based not for profit, but I wanted to be able to help lots of different organisations. I was keen to have a new perspective.”
As an Accounting For Good Account Manager, Paula works with a wide variety of NFP clients who all have different missions. Her high-level experience enables her to offer a great deal of support.
“In a single day I have a lot of contact with my clients… fielding a whole range of questions… checking in on reports and keeping up to date with the progress of certain projects or current tasks. For some clients it’s about helping them work through budgeting issues… some of them only require a small amount of assistance… but others I speak to almost every day. It all depends on what’s going on within their organisation and where we are in the financial cycle.”
Focused on the detail
Understandably, there has been a significant learning curve for Paula. Our clients have many different organisational structures, so that has provided Paula with the chance to expand her knowledge.
“Some of my clients are charities and that is a very familiar world to me. But some of them are associations who have a membership base and initially this was quite outside my comfort zone.
It’s been great learning about a lot of new associations and the work that they do… much of it is quite different to what I’m used to, so it’s been very interesting.
The thing that I’ve had to concentrate on most, is being focused on the detail. As a CEO you have a lot of balls in the air at the same time, a lot of it is big picture, but you work with others who put the plans into action. In this role, much of my work is making sure that the finer details are right… processes are in place and are easily executed. That’s been a challenge for me that I’ve really enjoyed.”
Paula has always enjoyed developing relationships with people. She likes to find out what motivates them and get to the core of why they do what they do. Working at Accounting For Good she feels that she has a great opportunity to connect with people and help support them through their journey.
“I love the diversity of our clients! The unique work that they are all doing… it’s really inspiring to see. We have clients that are all sizes of organisations and they are each focused on providing a benefit to the community.
I like being able to help them with the challenges that they face. I can support them with their strategic planning, and while my expertise doesn’t lie in the details of bookkeeping or Xero accounting, I know I have a fantastic team of people around me that can help with that area. I might not know all the answers, but I can always talk to our team about how we can best help the client solve their issue. This is one of the best parts of Accounting For Good.”
Find out more about our entire Accounting For Good team here.