Don't overestimate the importance of the owner of the business.- Ross Taggart
Where were you raised and who influenced your career decision?
I was fortunate to grow up in Merewether with such a fantastic beach on my doorstep. Growing up with my father as the principal of his own accountancy practice, it was inevitable I stepped into the same role as him. Fun fact - we have the same birthday!
Why choose accounting?
I finished school at Newcastle Boys High in 1976 and gained admission to Newcastle University to do a Commerce Degree. Maths and commerce were my favourite in high school, and I happened to be good at them, so it was a natural progress into accounting.
You started at your father's accountancy business in 1979. What was the profession like then?
In 1979 there were very few accountancy practices who used computers in Newcastle, which is what we rely on nowadays. All our work was done via hand-written records and we typed financial statements for our clients. Back in the '70s and '80s the accounting profession was more male dominated, with few female business owners and or business partners.
I have been lucky enough to be a part of this progression. Over the years we have constantly embraced new technology, the big one being the introduction and evolution of computerisation. We are now able to support our clients in a more innovative way by using up to date products and communication.
I have enjoyed watching and supporting the development of female leaders within our business over the years, and of course the succession of our practice - a huge milestone in any business.
How did work change when you became MD in 1990?
When you become the leader of a business it requires you to change your focus to encompass the whole of the organisation. As a leader my priorities were to better understand client needs, improve my team's welfare, and help to develop and mentor staff. I took on many roles within the practice including the role of creating an environment that will foster the best outcomes for the team and clients.
When did you know that Melanie Hamilton would be the new MD?
Melanie showed a love for accountancy and an ability to help our clients from the start of her career. Her desire to continually develop her financial knowledge and leadership skills assisted me in developing the practice. I will forever be grateful for the support she gave me and the business in 2016 when I was away from the business for eight months due to illness. Melanie ensured the business continued as usual and made it easy for me to recover to full health without having to stress.
This year Hamilton Taggart marks 70 years. Why did you decide to retire?
There is an old saying "you know when it is time to retire" and it's true. Over the past 10 years I have been working with Melanie to develop a structure in Hamilton Taggart that will continue the success of the business. I will be spending more time with my wife Rosalie and our son Cameron and his wife who live in Germany. I am grateful to now have the flexibility to travel and visit my family at any time. Retirement allows me to continue my involvement with community organisations.
Key things you have learnt in business?
Don't overestimate the importance of the owner of the business.
As the leader you aren't the biggest part of the business, you're just another member of the team. I am lucky to have been part of the Hamilton Taggart team.
Business is all about people and having a love of helping people (clients and your team) is vital to success.
You're a past president of the Hunter Business Chamber and Merewether Surf Club, and a director of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. What have these roles given you?
Being involved with these community organisations has kept me grounded during my business life.
Working hard to create a successful business can take over your life but finding time to assist community organisations is a way of giving back some of that success. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to be involved.
Your advice to small business owners who are battling to stay afloat after a tough few years?
Stay focused and concentrate on things that are successful in YOUR business. Regularly engage with your accountant to help you improve YOUR understanding of the numbers.
Knowing your numbers enables business owners to be better informed about their business.
What do you hope your legacy will be in business?
You don't last seven decades in business without doing something right.
I hope to be known as an advisor that has learnt from mistakes, showed leadership, resilience and always surrounded myself with good people.
Melanie leads the team today and into the future with the same client service values as those laid down by my father in 1952.
I was fortunate to be mentored by my father and have the support of Rosalie whose encouragement throughout my career has been key in my success.
It is also pleasing to see my love and passion for business has been translated into the team as they are passionate about seeing clients succeed.
Business, news and feature reporter.
Business, news and feature reporter.
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