This article was first published in the July/August 2015 China edition of Accounting and Business magazine.

Nine years after arriving in Australia from the UK, I’m proud to be the group CFO of Place Estate Agents in Brisbane. In 2015 we won the Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s Award for Large Residential Agency of the Year.

The Place Group of companies consists of 16 individual businesses that my teams support, along with five franchised businesses. We provide a centralised services model, which leverages the Place Group with financial, legal and HR services. While managing these three arms, I also work closely with our entrepreneurial chief executive, Damian Hackett, on the financial facet of business development, which sees us reporting to the board each quarter.

I strongly believe that Place is an industry leader in outsourcing. The model that we harness perfectly aligns with the support structures that real estate businesses require. Our model enables us to leverage resources to support our business objectives, as well as sustain a competitive advantage.

I believe that evolving technology has been the largest driver of change in my industry. Businesses must adapt to new technology or risk falling behind. Equally, the way we consume information is changing and interconnectedness within business is more important than ever before.

It’s crucial that a CFO can successfully report on business finances. Additionally, the modern CFO should be involved extensively in the management of the organisation and its future by excelling in the role as a business management partner by offering superior guidance for stakeholders.

In today’s challenging economic environment, it’s important to invest in financial leadership. As modern CFOs and members of management, we must seize opportunities to drive improvement. Financial executives should play a leading role in accelerating strategic growth across a business: we must be catalyst agents for change and development.

I’m also driven by the opportunity to contribute to my field on a wider scale. Training and education are passions of mine. I recognise that the transition from university to the workforce can be challenging, so I became a student mentor for the Queensland University of Technology and work to assist students’ moves into the workplace.

For me, it’s about teaching our future finance professionals the truth and processes of everyday business. For example, account management, how to interpret data effectively, how to create a business plan, making best-for-business decisions and, ultimately, taking a snapshot of the big picture and thinking, ‘how can I improve this business?’