Meet the CFO: Wayne Treeby CPA

Wayne Treeby CPA | Photo: Damien Pleming

Jack of all trades at KPMG Australia.

The role

Blame me for everything except HR!

I look after the usual finance, planning, accounting, treasury, but also IT, procurement, property, knowledge and resource management.

In a professional services firm there’s a lot of strategic management – databases and precedents, capturing all the IP (intellectual property) we use.

The whole group is around 470-480 people. I have six direct reports and they come out of all those streams – IT, finance, strategy. Revenues last year were about A$1.1 billion.

Early career

I’m actually a qualified architect. That was my first career choice.

I was working with a firm that got me involved in strategic work. They put me through my MBA at the University of Melbourne. When I moved into investment banking [with McIntosh Hoare Govett] and began meeting CEOs and CFOs, I realised I needed an accounting qualification, so did a Master of Professional Accounting at Monash and obtained my CPA.

I’m probably still more of a finance guy than an accounting guy. But the mathematical training in the architecture degree put me in good stead as a problem-solver.

Career boost

I got the chance to run the IPO [initial public offering] for Telstra. That was a A$14 billion float. I ran T1 for [Telstra CFO] Paul Rizzo in 1997. It was the biggest float in the world that year. Then I ran the T2 float – that was A$16 billion – in 1999. They were the real kickers.

One of the highlights of my career was actually standing at the New York Stock Exchange, ringing the bell for the Telstra float. They were key moments in Australian corporate history. I ran investor relations after that.

Getting hired

I had 20 years with Telstra. I was looking for a change, but hadn’t focused on professional services for a COO/CFO role. It’s proved to be a great move.

What appealed with KPMG was a broader range of responsibility, reporting direct to the CEO and being involved in the firm end to end. I had already done a few large-scale transformations [at Telstra], and KPMG were after change and new leadership.

It has really good people, a great culture, leadership and client base – those things together ticked all the boxes and it’s been two years now.

Key lessons

Collaboration is critical in a professional services firm. Not everyone reports to you, so you need to work up and down the chain.

People development is important. If you develop people, they will be loyal as they plan their careers.

And you’ve got to make it a little bit fun. You learn that most things people get stressed about aren’t worth that much in the scheme of life.

Easily said, but it’s true.

Challenges ahead

We’re undertaking a growth transformation at KPMG. There will be a major IT upgrade – we will have the best technology of any professional services firm in Australia within the next 12 months.

We will be moving into a new building and our workforce will be operating in a different way, allowing for more concentrated and creative collaboration.

We are also offshoring more.

December/January 2022
December/January 2022

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