Author
Sinead Chelton
Sinead Chelton

What does owning a bakery franchise and auditing have in common? We asked Sinead Chelton, Auditor, five quick questions.

What is your background?

I grew up in Central Coast, NSW, which is a coastal town between Newcastle and Sydney. I took an interesting route into auditing: straight out of high school, I completed an apprenticeship in baking. I was lucky to work for an awesome company who mentored and coached me through my apprenticeship, as well as taught me the business side of operating a bakery. When I was 20, I set the goal of owning a Bakers Delight store. From there I saved every spare cent I could, enrolled in Bakers Delight franchisee training courses and tried to learn as much as I could from my mentors.

At 23, my husband and I moved from Central Coast to Queensland, which is when I became the franchisee of the Bakers Delight in Windsor. My favourite part of running the bakery was looking for efficiencies—looking for ways we could produce a better product, ways we could have the right product coming out of the ovens at the right time, ways we could reduce expenses and increase revenue, and ways we could engage with our customers. It was my passion for these things that led me to university, where I studied a Bachelor of Commerce with an accounting major.

The best parts of being a franchisee was getting to meet a lot of different people and that there was always somewhere in the business I could invest my time in to add value. Audit brings me the same satisfaction—each entity we audit has a different story to be told, and learning about their business gives me the opportunity to add value.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in the past year?

The most important thing I have learnt in the past year is to approach all situations as a learning opportunity. Since my first day at QAO as a graduate, I have been lucky enough to work in many dynamic teams and on many interesting clients where I have had the opportunity to learn something from everyone.

During my time as a franchisee at Bakers Delight and as an auditor at QAO, working in a team-based environment has been a part of the job that I hugely enjoy. And I believe that teamwork and collaboration are two of the best ways to be a continual learner. There’s a lot of knowledge about audit and our clients here within the organisation, and each project I work on is an opportunity to learn from someone.

Where do you see the future of audit?

I believe audit is going to experience a lot of change in the future, primarily driven by advances in technology, specifically artificial intelligence and data analytics. I don’t think auditors will ever be replaced by computers, but components of an audit will become automated. This will allow us to focus more time on providing our clients with key business insights.

This shift will change the perception of audits as being a compliance-based activity to one which adds value to the business. I believe auditors will possess more experience in the world of data science and computer programming and continue to use their professional judgement and professional scepticism.

What has been your favourite project so far?

It’s hard to pick just one project. But there are two projects that really stand out to me. The first one being working alongside the data analytics team to build a specialised capital expenditure dashboard. This project gave me a glimpse into the world of data analytics, teaching me the fundamental principles for examining large amounts of data. Through examining data, we can better understand the entity we are auditing and share valuable insights.

The second project would have to be the audit of the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council, which felt more like an adventure than work. To get to Wujal Wujal, we flew from Brisbane to Cairns then hired a 4WD. The drive through the Bloomfield track has it all: amazing views, creek crossings and beautiful wildlife.

When we arrived in Wujal Wujal, our team was welcomed with a smoking ceremony—an ancient custom involving smouldering various native plants to produce smoke. I also had the opportunity to spend time with one of the elders who shared stories on how they teach their children to detect if there are crocodiles in the area.

Who inspires you?

Jessica O.Matthews’ approach to life and business inspires me. At the age of 19 she invented a soccer ball that captures and stores kinetic energy, therefore providing off-grid power for the developing world. She pursues life like a constant research experiment, acknowledging that she doesn’t have all the answers, but is open to continuous learning and challenging the status quo.

She inspires me because she has a strong purpose in life, clear goals and a relentless approach to achieving success.

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