“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston S. Churchill
When asked about her career, this quote by the great orator Winston Churchill is how Colleen Heggarty sums up her life philosophy.
After a decade of working in public practice as a tax accountant, Colleen has garnered many valuable life lessons both in and out of work.
From interviews at kitchen tables to volunteering in Cambodia and working in Canada, Colleen has had an amazing career journey that had finally led her to Bean Ninjas.
From Humble Beginnings to Bean Ninjas
Colleen Heggarty describes herself as goal-oriented and determined which is demonstrated in her commitment to her professional and personal development.
Replying to a newspaper ad from a local Coolangatta accounting firm looking for trainees, Colleen has come a long way from her humble beginnings.
The reason for her success in that first interview?
“At my interview, one of the Principals was a woman that I played golf within the Business Ladies competition the weekend before. I later found out that my bubbly personality was the reason I obtained the job.”
This is one of the key life lesson that Colleen lives by, of always being genuine and showing your personality. As Colleen says, relationships are key in life, and it’s one of the reasons she loves working for Bean Ninjas.
Colleen has found that the culture at Bean Ninjas offers the opportunity to build relationships with a varied client base, across diverse professions and careers.
Find out more about Bean Ninja’s client success stories here.
Colleen worked full-time while completing her Bachelors in Business with Griffith University, taking night classes and driving as much as 100km three times a week to attend tutorials and lectures.
After two and a half years developing her knowledge and experience in all things auditing, taxation, and financial planning, she decided it was time for a change. Her next role saw her join the firm Master Accounting, but not before a quick two-month trip through Europe:
“My interview was at the owner’s kitchen table. Before starting work with Master Accounting, I had organized an overseas trip to Europe for 2 months with Contiki. When I arrived back, a home office was built. Master Accounting allowed me to have autonomy and encouraged me to work things out for myself.”
This new found autonomy gave Colleen confidence to further develop her leadership skills in her professional life, taking on the challenge of Practice Manager role when the business owner was away.
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As the business grew, so did Colleen’s appetite for knowledge, and she commenced her Masters in Commerce (Professional Accounting) with the University of New England. Colleen worked with Master Accounting for five and a half years, during that time she didn’t restrict her participation to the typical 9 to 5 Monday to Friday office hours:
“During this time I went on a few overseas adventures including a volunteer program in Cambodia where myself and five ladies from Australia built a 100m 6ft brick wall for a school in a rural town just outside Siem Reap for 8 weeks with the help of local contractors.”
Time for a Break
After completing her Master’s degree Colleen decided she needed a break from the intense schedule of study and work.
But a break for Colleen didn’t mean a one-way ticket to Bali for beaches and sun. She opted for something more fitting to her goal-oriented mindset:
“I signed up for a working holiday visa and went to Canada for a year. I lived in Revelstoke in British Columbia and worked as a housekeeper for a snowmobile resort. I have a newfound respect for hotel staff and how hard they work. Revelstoke is a town of 8000 people in the middle of the Colombian mountains 3 hours west of Banff. I didn’t know at the time but Revelstoke has the highest mountain drop. So I learned how to snowboard on one of the hardest mountains.”
After the resort season finished Colleen spent a few months traveling around Alaska and San Francisco before returning home to the Gold Coast.
There she took up a new role with a public practice firm. It was through her work here that Colleen learned another valuable career lesson: not all firms are equal. Colleen needed to work for a firm that shared her values.
Related article: Bean Ninjas Recognised as Xero Bookkeeping Partner of the Year
After a year and a half of being back in the accounting workforce, she decided it was time to move on once more:
“With experience comes wisdom. When I was looking for my next step, I was looking for elements of previous employment that worked for me. I had criteria for what I was looking for. Leadership, client base, internal systems, and the right attitude to clients and staff.”
She found an advertisement from Bean Ninjas and knew she’d found the right fit. Colleen hasn’t looked back:
“Bean Ninjas fosters a culture of forward-thinking. Through the use of technology and acknowledging the change in the accounting and bookkeeping landscape. There’s always positive support and direction from colleagues and the BN leadership team.”
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More Than a Bean Ninja!
When she’s not being a Bean Ninja, Colleen values her partner Garry, family time, and views her friends as part of her family. That includes her dog Cadillac, a gorgeous Cavalier King Charles Spaniel!
A woman of many skills, after renovating her home and learning how to tile (she retiled her entire home single handedly), you can find Colleen heading to Brisbane to join ‘Le Step’ for some Modern Jiving every second Friday. She even jumps on stage to assist with teaching the class!
Asked what advice she’d give her 13-year-old self, Colleen reiterates that being yourself is crucial, and it’s important not to let other people’s negative opinions get to you. She advocates for thinking outside the box and says it’s okay to challenge authority figures.
Despite all of her adventures, Colleen still has a few more adventures on the radar including visiting Borneo to see the Orangutans and riding the Trans Siberian Railway from China to Russia:
“My Pa was a surveyor. My Nan and Pa rode the Trans Siberian Railway in the early 1980’s when the East was opening up to West. My Pa, Walter Lewis, wrote details about their train ride. I would like to see how the experience has changed in 30 years.”
Colleen prefers books on personal interest stories, including Australian Story, Insight and also enjoys The Moth online podcast.
Her recommended movie is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and her favorite quote is “The only thing that you can buy that makes you richer is travel.”
Clearly a philosophy she has no trouble living by!
She defines success as the fulfillment of goals and being content with the decisions you make. Colleen Heggarty lives her life with some key philosophies that are easy to relate to and have clearly paid off for her in both work and life:
“What you put out into the universe, you will get back. My purpose is to inspire.”
You’ve definitely inspired us, Colleen!
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She has travelled to 31 countries and regularly visits her Tasmanian homeland. She is an avid surfer and yogi and spends her time between the Gold Coast, Australia and Argentina.
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