INTHEBLACK December 2020 - Magazine - Page 36
ONE PIECE OF ADVICE
“Try to work across as many departments as possible
in a company, as this cross-divisional experience
really gives you a high-level, helicopter view of the
business, especially once you get up to the level of
the C-suite. It also gives you confidence in making
decisions, because you know how certain actions will
affect various departments.”
Above: Hacia Atherton CPA geared up for
her first competitive race.
Left: An X-Ray from early 2020, depicting
the results of the surgery Atherton required
after her injury.
Below: Atherton spent six months in
rehabilitation following her injury.
36 ITB December 2020
“I’ve actually even worked in
manufacturing and learned how to weld,”
“Some people may think I just get things
handed to me, but we don’t have any
nepotism in this company, and the Atherton
family members have to work twice as hard.”
Eventually Atherton found her home in
the finance division, where she started out as
an assistant accountant, a role she occupied
for seven years before moving up the ranks
to become a senior accountant.
Then, in 2017, disaster struck. Atherton,
a keen horse-rider, was training for the World
Equestrian Games when her horse reared.
She slid off its back and the 600kg horse fell
on her, crushing her pelvis and causing nerve
damage to her right leg. Doctors warned her
she may not walk again, but Atherton spent
six months in rehabilitation, determined to
prove them wrong.
“On the 117th day of my rehabilitation,
I stood on land, but it was so brief and
the goal of walking seemed so far off, so I
decided to break down the goals into stages,”
She devised what she calls “courage goals”
and “superstar goals” to inspire her.
“My courage goal at first was just standing
up every day for a few seconds, and my
superstar goal was if my therapist could
let go of me for a few seconds,” she says.
“Then the goals progressed gradually
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About five months in, Atherton started to
see real results when she walked the entire
length of the rehabilitation bars. Since then
she has made remarkable progress.
Not only is she gradually improving her
walking – despite successive operations – but
Atherton also now has her sights set on
Atherton also speaks regularly at public
functions about the importance of resilience
and finding the courage to push past the fear
“Courage is so important in your
professional life, and you have to have the
courage to put your hand up,” she says.
“Life is not always going to go your way,
and you have to keep stepping up and keep
swinging your bat until you hit the ball.”
Atherton, who is a CPA Australia committee
member for the Emerging Leaders Network,
credits the CPA program with giving her the
strategies to aid her recovery.
“The program has been such a huge
foundation for my recovery, and I applied a
lot of the technical theory of the course to
my rehab process, particularly in how
to build a strategy,” she says.
It has also brought a renewed focus to
In August, she was appointed to the
C-suite as Atherton’s chief commercial
officer, a role that both challenges and
“Being in a corporate environment, you
can feel like you are the meat in the middle
of a very complex sandwich, and you are
communicating with external stakeholders,
such as ASIC [the Australian Securities
and Investments Commission], with high
levels of financial literacy, and then there
are internal stakeholders with varying
levels of financial literacy,” she says.
“It can also be hard to communicate
complex accounting to internal
stakeholders who don’t have a financial
background or the hours to get their head
around it, so it tests your communication
as well as your technical skills.”
Above: Hacia Atherton CPA believes a
positive mindset is key to recovery.
intheblack.com December 2020 37