The life of an accountant can take unexpected twists and turns. David Adams CPA left Australia and discovered a new focus in his career.
When PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) sent David Adams CPA to the Indonesian province of North Sumatra for a six-month project, he had no idea the project would take three years – or that he’d still be living in the country 30 years later.
Adams stayed with PwC until 2006, moving on to a rare position for a foreigner as finance director in a state-owned company. He later established his current Jakarta-based consultancy practice.
As is often the case, Adams’ accounting degree has fed a rich and diverse career, including a stint for several years with PwC in the highlands of Papua New Guinea and a decade as branch president for CPA Indonesia.
Most importantly, it’s provided him with the skills to manage what he says has been his most fulfilling role of all – working voluntarily for the Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation in Jakarta.
“I met Priscilla nearly 20 years ago when she came to Indonesia to visit her brother, a friend of mine,” recalls Adams.
Hall embraced life in Indonesia and ended up staying, living in the country for two years until she died in a plane crash during a skydiving trip with her boyfriend.
“It’s been a real privilege – it’s the best job I’ve ever done.”
“Priscilla was so full of life and had a heart of gold,” says Adams of his old friend. “She had such [an] affinity for people and particular empathy for the underdog, which can be rare. She was very involved in the community.”
At Hall’s memorial service in Jakarta in 2004, her father, along with Adams and several other friends, decided to start a charity in her name. The Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation has been active since.
“Our main fundraiser is an annual golf day – which is a really popular event on the calendar for expats and Indonesians alike,” Adams says. “At the end of the day we hold an auction and, with the support of some major sponsors who are very loyal to us ... we have raised over A$1 million.”
Adams highlights that not only are the funds extensive, but they also stretch much further in Indonesia than they would in Australia. This means that the charity has managed to build and support a range of projects in its 16 years, as well as providing flood relief, medical interventions and vocational training for young people.
“The charity focuses on disadvantaged kids, and we often try to support projects that are struggling to secure funds – helping the “underdog” as Priscilla would have done,” Adams says.
“For example, we’ve paid for operations such as fixing cleft palates, which no one else will fund. We do a lot of work with street kids and orphanages. We’ve done a vocational training program for young addicts.
“We’ve been around for long enough that we’re starting to see kids we’ve helped come back as young adults and help the cause.”
Adams has the largest role in the foundation, overseeing its financial management, meeting with potential partner organisations and deciding what projects to implement or fund.
“I have met the most amazing people who run the organisations we support. Their commitment and will are so inspiring. And that’s before you even meet the kids. It’s been a real privilege – it’s the best job I’ve ever done.”
Adams has given large chunks of his time to a role he is clearly passionate about, but may soon hang up his hat and finally move back to South Australia, where his accounting journey began.
“The charity has a really good reputation,” he says. “I hope it will continue long after I’m gone.”
The Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation is a not-for- profit, charitable fund that aims to help underprivileged children of Indonesia. It was established in the name of Australian Priscilla Hall, by friends and family, following her death in a plane accident in 2004.
CPA Australia resource:
Find tools, templates and resources to support you when performing voluntary or pro bono accounting services