Image L to R: Rachel Larner and Diana Patricia Carvajal Marin, Miaomiao Zhou, Sahar Zaidi, and Zeng Jones.

Five recipients have been awarded the CPA Australia – CPA Program scholarship this month to complete finance and accounting studies in 2024. The winners will benefit from studies in Ethics and Governance, Strategic Management Accounting, Financial Reporting, Global Strategy and Leadership. The five scholars share how these scholarships will help them take the next step in their learning journeys.

The five scholarship winners represent charities supporting health services, social services, and environment and animal welfare located in Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales. Congratulations to:

Strengthening Finances for Impact

Rachel Larner is the Finance and Administration Manager at Landcare Tasmania. With a background in personal financial planning, she moved to the not-for-profit sector in 2020.

Landcare Tasmania is the peak body supporting community Landcare in Tasmania, with over 300 member groups across the state, made up of over 6000 volunteers. Landcare Tasmania’s current program areas are Member Support, Landscape Restoration, Outreach, Education and Advocacy.

Rachel is also on the board of The Circus Studio, and in her free time can often be found hanging out on the aerial silks.

Transitioning from personal financial planning, Rachel Larner identified accounting skill gaps in her for-purpose role. The broad focus of the CPA Program aligns with her passion, reinforcing her expertise.

Rachel Larner says “The work that the Landcare movement does is essential as we feel the impacts of climate change and see increasing biodiversity loss. As a peak body, Landcare Tasmania offers Landcare groups across the state a range of resources and support services. Our broad network is our superpower. I hope to use the knowledge and skills gained through the CPA Program to support improved financial management across our network, through further improving Landcare Tasmania’s own internal systems, providing resources and training for our volunteer-led groups to manage their own financial affairs, and in collaborating with other state Landcare organisations through the National Landcare Network.”

Supporting growing organisations

Diana Patricia Carvajal Marin is a Registered Public Accountant with the Central Board of Accountants in Colombia, holding a Diploma in International Financial Reporting Standards from ICESI University.

With over five years of expertise, she specializes in financial reporting, asset register management, and bookkeeping. Currently serving as a Finance and Administration Officer at the non-profit organization Jamukurnu-Yapalikurnu Aboriginal Corporation, Diana has achieved success in leading Oracle E-Business Suite’s GL module implementation and driving IFRS adoption for the fixed assets module in SAP. S

Since relocating to Australia in 2019, her professional goal has been to become a CPA, highlighting her dedication to ongoing professional development. Outside her career, she finds joy in family time and pursues her passion for running and cycling.

Inspired by the words of Nelson Mandela, Diana Carvajal champions the belief that Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’

Confidence building in knowledge and skills

Miaomiao Zhou, a finance officer for a nonprofit charity for the past 15 years and the founder of a local carers support group, is a dedicated supporter of the not-for-profit sector. As a mother of an autistic child, she generously shares her skills and knowledge with colleagues and community members.

The CPA Australia – CPA Program scholarship is seen by Miaomiao as an opportunity to enhance and consolidate her expertise in daily work while also gaining essential skills to contribute to a broader community.

She expresses, ‘Life is an adventure, enjoy the ride.’

Lifelong commitment to learning

As the Operations Manager of Mary’s House Services, Sahar Zaidi serves to assist women and children in escaping the domestic violence/abuse sector. Responsible for overseeing the corporate services side of the organization, Sahar supports the mission and vision alongside the leadership team. With over ten years of management and governance experience in the not-for-profit industry, Sahar excels in strategic planning, operations, evaluation, policies and procedures, facilitation, volunteer/personnel management, budgeting, and consulting.

Her passion is to create awareness and prevent violence against women and girls, and she has continued to serve in various capacities through employment and on boards of not-for-profit organizations in Canada and Australia. Her roles have given her experience with individuals, community groups, service providers, and local, state, and federal governments.

Sahar holds a BSc in Accounting, an MBA, and an MPA with a specialization in not-for-profits. She continues to enhance her professional capacity, completing Prince2 in 2022 and currently undertaking the CPA qualification.

Her quote is, “She raises her voice not so that she can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard” – Malala Yousafzai.

Network Building in Non-Profit Finance

Zeng Jones is the finance manager for MJD Foundation Ltd with over a decade of experience in managing the financial operations of the organisation.

Recently completed her bachelor’s in accounting, Zeng is pursuing CPA studies to deepen her expertise in the field and is committed to staying ahead in her field to bring fresh insights to her role. With a proven track record and an eye on the future, Zeng is poised to make a lasting impact on any non-profit organisation’s financial well-being.

Many participants acknowledge the importance of the networks they create over the duration of their studies, and Zeng says “Connecting with like-minded professionals and experts in the field would expand my professional network, enabling me to learn from others’ experiences and share best practices. These connections could lead to collaborations, mentorship opportunities, and a broader support system to navigate the unique challenges of the not-for-profit sector”.

CPA Australia and the Australian Scholarships Foundation offer up to five 100% scholarships annually. This scholarship enables managers and financial officers of registered charitable organisations to enhance their knowledge and skills to further contribute to the management and accountability of charitable not-for-profit organisations.