The Department of Human Services' Hawari Badri FCPA makes her own way

Shaping her own destiny

Following the less-travelled road has enabled Hawari Badri to pursue a diverse range of career roles in areas such as law enforcement, foreign affairs and child protection.

As Hawari Badri approached the final year of her commerce degree in the early 1990s, she realised she would face a tough time finding a job. The economy was in recession and even the Commonwealth Public Service (now the Australian Public Service) was cutting its graduate intake.

Unlike most of her classmates, whose thoughts turned to further study or another career path, Badri – not for the first time in her life – took an altogether different direction.

Sensing the downturn was set to worsen by the time she graduated, she decided to move fast and began knocking on doors and applying for jobs.

“It was hard,” Badri recalls, remembering the numerous knockbacks as she competed with those graduating a year ahead of her for a dwindling number of opportunities.

Her persistence eventually paid off when the-then Civil Aviation Authority took her on and supported her through the completion of her undergraduate degree and much of the CPA Program, which she finished in 1996 after taking up a position with KPMG.

Even as a student, Badri had recognised that working in business was far more volatile and uncertain than was portrayed at university. Witnessing colleagues lose their jobs proved that, and she resolved to do everything she could to be master of her own destiny. It has guided her decision-making ever since. 

“I didn’t want to be in the situation of losing my job and having no idea of what’s next,” says Badri.

“It really did shape me to be resilient, to take charge of my career, to make good calls about the long term.”

Professional development: Corporate learning solutions

By the early 2000s, she had joined the Commonwealth Department of Finance, where she seized opportunities to broaden her experience. This led her, in 2007, to spend almost two years in Jakarta working with Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance to share her expertise about financial governance, budgeting and establishing accountable and transparent financial frameworks.

Since then, her career has included devising robust financial frameworks to oversee the Commonwealth’s finances, working with law enforcement to disrupt organised crime syndicates and working with the Nauruan Government in the creation of a framework for the protection of children on the island.

It is a varied and unusual career path and one that has now taken Badri to a very senior role at the Department of Human Services, where she is in charge of ensuring the security and safety of more than 34,000 staff and their hundreds of thousands of customers, spread across a nationwide network of more than 690 sites.

Badri believes the CPA Program, with its strong emphasis on governance and leadership skills together with technical capabilities, has prepared her well for her different career roles. 

“It gave me the option to potentially work in many spheres,” she says.

“It gave me the grounding to be versatile enough to do that.” 

One piece of advice

Seize the chance to apply your skills in different settings, including trying your hand overseas. Be resilient, because the working environment is always changing. Embrace differences and make them work for you. There are many pathways you can take. The important thing is to have the confidence and the bravery to try them.

This article is from the December issue of INTHEBLACK

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