#Auditorproud Interview : Auditor of the Year award winner Shirley Schaefer from BDO Australia

27 September 2018


At Australia’s Women in Finance Awards Shirley Schaefer, Partner at BDO Australia, has been nominated Auditor of the Year. The Awards celebrate the work of the women making a difference in accounting, banking, insurance, financial advice, funds management, mortgage broking and superannuation.

Shirley Schaefer joined BDO in Australia in 1994, and became a Director in 2001. She has accumulated over 25 years experience as a Chartered Accountant. In 2010, BDO Australia appointed Shirley National Lead Partner for Superannuation, a popular type of organizational pension programs.

Shirley is passionate about her profession and is a regular speaker at events organised by Australia's Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CAANZ), SMSF Association (SMSFA), Tax & Super Australia (TSA) and The Tax Institute (TIA).

On the occasion of #AuditorProud day 2018 Shirley has agreed to answer our questions about her experience in the audit profession.

BDO: Shirley, since you joined BDO in 1994 what are the big ‘tectonic shifts’ that have changed the profession?

SS: The advancement of automation in all aspects of business!  Payments, documents, the cloud. The auditor no longer has a ‘green pen’, copies documents and ticks them off.  We are armed with a very portable laptop or a tablet and stylus.

BDO: What’s great about being an auditor? What are the ‘adrenalin moments’ in your profession?

SS: The bit I love best about my job is training others. Whether its providing technical advice to clients or training/teaching other staff members. Imparting my knowledge and teaching others is the best bit about this job. Next in line would be helping clients. Not just finding audit issues, but helping clients to deal with those issues and resolve them, this way our compliance function is not just about being a ‘checker’ but also a solution finder.

BDO: The theme of #Auditorproud day 2018 is ‘myths dispelled’.  What myths about the audit profession do you notice that should be set straight?        

SS: That audit and auditors are difficult. We ask probing questions- not to be difficult, but to understand, to highlight and to get to the bottom of something. An audit should not be about an auditor uncovering ‘hidden’ items but about providing some value to the organisation in review of systems, processes and outcomes.

BDO: What is your key tip for people starting out as auditors?

SS: Be prepared to learn.  As auditors we are exposed to a huge variety of businesses, people and systems. Be prepared to think ‘sideways’ – don’t just accept what it is in front of you question at all times – even your managers – can it be done better?

#AuditorProud is an online event held each year on 27 September, during which the audit profession is celebrated and the important role that auditors play every day in our capital markets is highlighted.