Whenever people think of the stereotypical accountant, the image that comes to mind is certainly not normally someone who seeks the public spotlight. However, believe it or not there are actually quite a number of accountants in Australia who have decided to swap their accounting job for a career in the spotlight instead.
1. Mark Bouris – Financial Doyen
Entrepreneur and well-known TV personality, Mark Bouris, came to nationwide attention as the boss on the show ‘The Apprentice’. While he was previously known in business circles as the man behind the successful marketing of Wizard Home Loans (he went on to sell his stake in the business for $400 million to GE Money), Bouris actually began his career as a chartered accountant.
2. Anthony Bell – Accountant to the Stars
Owner of one of Australia’s most successful sole partner advisory and accounting firms, Bell Partners, Anthony Bell is often seen gracing the silver screen in Australia. He is regularly featured on various shows on Channel 7 and Bloomberg Television, speaks frequently on Radio 2GB, writes for the Daily Telegraph and Business Review Weekly, and can be hired as a speaker – if you have a minimum of $5000 to spend.
Regarded as Australia’s “accountant to the stars”, with a high-profile list of clients that includes actors, sports stars and TV personalities, Bell is one of the few big names on the list that has actually stayed in the field of accounting.
3. Steve Bracks – Former Premier of Victoria
Politician Stephen “Steve” Bracks came to attention in Australia as the former Premier of Victoria from 1999 to 2007, and is the second longest-serving Labor premier in the state’s history. Not expected to have a chance at winning the state election in 1999, Bracks and his colleagues heavily campaigned in regional Victorian areas and ending up narrowly achieving victory.
While the former-politician is best-known for his time in office, he did in fact graduate with a Diploma of Business Studies (Accounting) and a Graduate Diploma of Education (Economics) from the Ballarat Institute of Advance Education (now the University of Ballarat).
4. Sir Arthur William Fadden – Former Prime Minister of Australia
Presiding as the 13th Prime Minister of Australia, albeit for only a short stint of roughly 40 days in 1941, Sir Arthur William Fadden, is another accountant who has his name in the history books.
Educated at state schools in Queensland, Fadden went on to study accountancy while he worked as a clerk in Mackay. He added his name to the ages when he was appointed as leader of the in-power United Australia Party Coalition on August 28, 1941. (Robert Menzies resigned as Prime Minister and Fadden was the second replacement for the role). His tenure only lasted until early October when he was forced to resign.
5. Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann – Comedian
Known as “Lehmo”, Anthony Lehmann began his career as a chartered accountant but soon changed industries when he found success as a comedian. He is well-known throughout Australia for his stand-up comedy, many TV appearances and hosting duties, radio shows, and acting roles. Lehmo has appeared on or hosted shows such as ‘Before the Game’, ‘Hey Hey It’s Saturday’, and BBC TV’s Comedy Showcase, as well as radio programs on Triple M, Mix 1011 and Gold 104.3.
6. John Welborn – Former Wallaby Rugby Player
John Welborn earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Western Australia and is a chartered accountant with memberships of Institutes such as the Chartered Accountants in Australia and the Financial Services Institute of Australasia. Despite his successes in commerce, most Australians would likely recognise him as a player for the Australian Wallabies, as well as his regular commentary in Australian media and public speaking roles. These days Welborn also holds the title as the Managing Director and CEO of publicly-listed company Equatorial Resources Limited.
7. Geoff Toovey – Coach of Manly Sea Eagles & Former Rugby League Great
Another Aussie sports legend, Geoff Toovey is a former professional rugby league player and the current coach of the Manly Sea Eagles rugby league team. While most Australians will be familiar with Geoff from sporting prowess (his playing career spanned close to 15 years), he is actually a chartered accountant. Toovey obtained a business degree at the University of Technology in Sydney and then, after graduating from the Chartered Accountant’s Program, went on to work at a Sydney accounting firm for ten years.
8. Rocco La Bella – Contestant on ‘MKR’
If you’re a fan of cooking shows then you’re sure to recognise Rocco La Bella from popular reality TV program My Kitchen Rules. La Bella was a contestant and runner-up on the hit show that drew 3.8 million Australian viewers during the grand-final screening of the 2012 season. What many people watching didn’t realise is that Rocco is actually a chartered accountant and financial manager of internet business, Internode.
9. Ross Gittins – Economics Editor at Sydney Morning Herald
Avid investors and readers of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper will be familiar with the work of chartered accountant, Ross Gittins. The economics editor of the Sydney paper for over three decades, Gittins is also the author of a number of books, an economic columnist for The Age newspaper, an economics lecturer, and a member of the Order of Australia for services to journalism. Although he became qualified as an accountant when he was young, the writer soon found the role not to his liking and moved into journalism instead.
10. James Taylor – Actor
Australians will know the face and name of actor James Taylor from his roles in television series such as Underbelly, Neighbours, Killing Time, Blue Heelers and City Homicide. Internationally, he is building a profile as well, having acted in hit shows like Criminal Minds and Hawaii Five-O. Yet Taylor didn’t start out in the entertainment business, and actually is a qualified chartered accountant that worked for a number of years at KPMG.