PACCAR Australia financial controller Marcel Hunt CPA says it’s important to be passionate about your work.
As a young boy, Marcel Hunt CPA was obsessed with trucks. Today, as financial controller at PACCAR Australia
, it’s an interest that’s served him well.
PACCAR manufactures premium commercial vehicles in Australia, including Peterbilt and DAF trucks and the heavier duty Kenworth trucks, the long-distance workhorses of the road often used to haul livestock, deliver cars around the country, and produce from Queensland to Victoria.
“We have big fleet customers who might buy a hundred trucks a year off us and then we have mums and dads who might buy one every now and then,” Hunt says.
To buy and get a typical truck on the road might cost a half-million dollars, he reveals.
“That’s why we have a finance company. We provide a source of funds to our customers to buy our trucks.”
The journey from truck enthusiast to dream job, however, came after a few bumps in the road for Hunt. After finishing school at age 17, Hunt went straight into a job with ANZ Bank and was paid a junior wage. The A$87 a week barely covered his rent and living expenses.
“I was quite young to be living out of home and self-sufficient,” he says. “All of that leads to you really beginning to realise that without money, you can’t do much.”
Hunt decided he may as well be a poor student and go to university. “I was supposed to do forestry science, but I changed out of that because I decided I really needed to be somewhere I could make a decent living. I did a bachelor’s degree in business instead.”
When he graduated in 1990, the unemployment rate was high – Australia was amid “the recession we had to have”, as Treasurer Paul Keating said at the time.
“If you were a dumb kid straight out of university, you had virtually no chance of getting a job here,” Hunt says. “Because of that, I went overseas.”
A move to London enabled him to kickstart his accounting career with a job in audit at Arthur Andersen. He later moved to retailer Arcadia Group as a business analyst in its retail, strategy and planning department.
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“You have a pretty good cash flow, you can afford to do quite a lot and go to a lot of places,” he says of living in London. “You get to see a lot of Europe, the Middle East, Africa – just because you can.”
He returned to Melbourne in 2000 and joined tobacco giant Philip Morris International as a cost and capital expenditure supervisor.
“In a strange way I feel like I’m following my childhood interests,” he says. “When I was a small kid, I really liked trucks. As a teenager I thought cigarettes were pretty good, so I find it somewhat ironic that I worked for a cigarette company and now a truck company.”
One industry Hunt wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about was carpet manufacturing. A brief stint at Feltex Carpets taught him the importance of doing something you care about. “I did not care about carpet,” he says. “I had no interest in it. I couldn’t get passionate about it and I realised that’s probably a little bit important to me, that I’ve got to have some buy-in. I can’t just turn up for a pay cheque.”
When the job came up at PACCAR, it was the perfect opportunity to move into an industry that sparked his enthusiasm. Hunt has worked in a variety of roles including controller of trucks, operations manager for DAF Trucks Australia and finance director for Australia.
“That’s what makes roles like mine really interesting – there are so many different things happening,” he says.
At the same time Hunt joined PACCAR, he became a CPA Australia member, mainly because he found North Americans were not as aware of his UK charter qualifications. He believes the program has helped his career, “not just in terms of the tools and how to do things and think about things, but also among your peers – the qualification gives them confidence”.
While vehicle manufacturing in Australia has evolved significantly in Hunt’s 15 years at the company, he maintains the industry hasn’t disappeared; it’s simply changed.
“There’s still Aveco doing some assembly here, there’s Mack and Volvo … and we’re still building trucks from the ground up. We can still call our product ‘Australian Made’ under the old Australian Made requirements, which is still more than 50 per cent local content. Historically, the other truck manufacturers couldn’t say that.”
With thousands of local businesses being PACCAR customers, this trucking giant has helped to keep much of the nation running.
Finance career takes CPA around the world and back again