Leading by example
Finance manager, Columbus Coffee
Taranaki resident Kylie Filbee-Cronin juggled working full-time while ticking-off a string of life achievements during her time studying towards a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) with the Open Polytechnic.
She built a house, planned a wedding, continued her charity work, opened two home businesses, continued a full time career and to top it off was recently named the recipient of the Craig Norgate Taranaki Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship is awarded by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and is targeted at helping cover students’ course costs while completing the Chartered Accountants programme.
Winning the scholarship was ‘a real shock’, according to Kylie, who spent eight years working towards her qualification and now plans to become a chartered accountant.
“Craig gave so much back to the community, so Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand were looking for somebody who also enjoyed getting stuck-in with the community,” she says.
Kylie, who received her qualification at Open Polytechnic’s recent Wellington graduation ceremony, volunteers for Taranaki-based group The Network.
“The Network is a group for local professional women that helps them learn a range of new skills to support them in their professions.
“I really enjoy helping the members try to make it in a tough business world, and I get so much back from them.
“It’s a great sharing group who care about each other. I am passionate about it and have met some fantastic people, it has also helped to take my career to a new level.”
Having finished high school at the end of her sixth form year, Kylie says that sitting in a classroom has never been for her.
“School wasn’t really for me,” she says. “I finished sixth form and knew that I wanted to be an accountant.
Kylie says her father had his own accounting practice so she had some early exposure to the industry during school holidays.
“I liked the lifestyle and the fact that you could take an accounting qualification anywhere to find work. I also liked the diversity of the job when you have so many different clients.”
Kylie says soon after leaving school she joined accounting firm Staples Rodway. Her new team supported her to start studying and even gave her time off to study, sit exams and work on assignments. She is still working there today.
Kylie started studying through a nearby institution but soon realised that going to classes was just like being back at high school. Looking online she came across the Open Polytechnic, saw that she could study by distance learning, and soon decided to apply and cross-credit her previous study.
“Studying by distance was really nice,” Kylie says, “I didn’t want to move away from Taranaki to study because I like being near my family and I didn’t want to give-up my job. I also enjoyed being able to study in my own time.”
The flexibility that came with studying through the Open Polytechnic meant that Kylie was able to complete her course work whenever and wherever she wanted. Though she says she had to be quite disciplined with her time.
Having a good support network, at home and at work, was the key to success during her studies, according to Kylie.
“Because you are living your life at the same time as studying you need to have a really supportive network around you,” she says. “I was so appreciative of the friends and the family that supported me.”
While Kylie found her study materials really useful, she says there were times when she found it hard to get her head around things.
“I had some times where I just could not understand certain ideas,” she says. “The good thing is I would email my lecturer and they would come back to me straight away.
“I had a couple of courses that were quite hard. I went and talked to people at work that had done it before and that helped a lot. For me it was about not just sitting there and getting into a panic about it, but going and getting help from tutors, colleagues, or even from other students on the online forums.”
Kylie says her parents were very proud the day she walked across the stage to graduate with her Bachelor of Business (Accounting).
The graduation brought back memories to Kylie’s father of his days studying to become an accountant.
Kylie says she really enjoyed seeing how happy and proud she had made him by following in his footsteps.
“Graduating was an amazing experience,” she says. “It felt really neat to put on the robes. It was a great day, you all get together to celebrate and everybody is genuinely happy for each other. It certainly made it all worth it.”
Having completed her qualification Kylie says she can now focus on becoming a chartered accountant, something that will help to move her career to the next stage.
Studying by distance was really nice... I didn’t want to move away from Taranaki to study because I like being near my family and I didn’t want to give-up my job. I also enjoyed being able to study in my own time.