Chapter 8: Carrying Forward
Why, then, did Macquarie Accounting's extraordinary research profile in international accounting, and its enormous prestige in China, not translate into greater internal standing and external reputation? … Across the interim period, there had been huge investment in new, largely scientific and (latterly) medical endeavours, elements of which had outstripped the best that an originally well-equipped Economic and Financial Studies program had been able to throw at it. And the reason it had not been able to keep pace was, of course, that the flow of international funding that came through Accounting did not, ultimately, "stick", but went on to fund other developments. It was a tension in priorities, a problem not entirely of the University's making, and therefore one which it "was sad that it didn't seem to be possible to resolve …" Ethically, it was a conundrum; historically, it was the irony of moving frames. To solve one set of problems, it created another.
In 2014, both the heads of the major certifying bodies for accountants in Australia (CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, boasting a combined membership of 225,000), and many of their leading members, are Macquarie University graduates. … The skill sets required by the professions now have much more to do with strategic imagination, communication skills, leadership, business planning—in short the "soft skills" once "caught" from experience rather than "taught" through accounting education. … In such a dynamic space as accounting, tied as it is to both the region and to the definitional "engaged" profession, the temptation to rest upon past successes rather than future needs may well prove fatal to the financial leading edge of many universities. "Universities are going to have to be smarter ... The appointment of someone with the business acumen of Bruce Dowton is a promising sign" [A. Malley]. Engaging the new global reality will take significant, well-funded and intentional steps by the University's administration and by the rising generation of Department leaders. The energy of its people, and the insight and engagement of its leadership, provides much hope that that this will, in fact, be the case.