Luton White

22 Apr 2015
Luton White

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old? Is the career you’re in now something you ever thought you would be doing?

When I was very young I wanted to be palaeontologist. I knew all the names of the dinosaurs and I used to make my mother read to me from dinosaur books showing primeval forests and giant sea creatures. At some point I realised that most of the research occurs in outer Mongolia and my thoughts shifted to banking.

Can you give us a bit of an overview of your career journey?  How/where did you start?

I started my accounting career as a graduate auditor in the Brisbane offices of one of the chartered accounting firms that would become KPMG. I obtained this position during the graduate recruiting in my third year at UQ Business School.

You have worked for multiple major organisations, what are your recommendations for anyone wanting to get their foot in the door with major organisations?

All organisations have one thing in common: they are about relationships. Getting a foot in the door can be challenging, if the job is desirable you will be in competition with other candidates. Strong results may get you an interview, but the recruiter is really looking for somebody that they will want to work with. It is because of this that a lot of recruiting occurs through networks. As relationships matter, a stranger is a riskier prospect that someone who is already known or recommended to the hiring firm.

What is the best part of your role?

I really enjoy problem solving. I’ve always been drawn to complexity, and when I can see or understand something that may not be apparent to others, I enjoy sharing those insights.

What is your proudest career achievement?

At a fairly early stage of my accounting career I was assigned to a project where I had to develop the accounting mappings for a wide range of traded products including valuations, and the various product life cycle cash flows. The process of working with trading and operational colleagues to analyse, understand, develop and document these events gave me an unprecedented opportunity to become an expert in this field.

What mentor or inspirational figure has guided or influenced your career/life?

Even though I never worked with him, I am a big fan of what Bob Joss achieved at Westpac. I admire no nonsense business leaders who can communicate, inspire, and enjoy leaving the protected shelter of the executive floor or the first class lounge.

How did you come to study at UQ Business School?

I commenced my undergraduate studies straight out of high school. My other half is also a UQ alumnus and I was guided by her view that university is a wonderful place not only to learn, but to grow and to enjoy an environment that is very special.

What’s your most positive memory of your time at UQ Business School?

I will never forget working in the commerce building computer lab. The computer of that time did not have screens, but instead worked as a kind of typewriter where everything was printed on paper. My continuing interest in computer systems and technology was formed in that lab.

What impact has the School had on the way you operate or think about business?

My commerce degree gave me a broad range of insights into business covering economics, organisational theory, accounting, and computer systems. This knowledge platform and my subsequent work experience has given me a deep understanding of how organisations work, and how they should work if they are to succeed.

UQ Business School’s tagline is “Challenging the future”. For you, what will be the most challenging business topic in the next coming ten years?

In banking at least the current theme is re-regulation. The role of our regulations is vital, but all of the review and oversight in the world is no substitute for good management and sound business practice. Over a ten year time frame I would expect that confidence in the banking sector will be restored, albeit with a focus on avoiding the complex structures and products that have caused so much harm. For somebody who has always been drawn to complexity, this will be challenging!

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