Scholar Profile - Catherine Stockdale PDF Print E-mail
Catherine Stockdale


Chief Financial Officer at Beacon Foundation

Awarded a scholarship for the Governance Institute's Certificate in Governance for Not-for-Profits, 2014

What sort of work does your organisation do?

The Beacon Foundation is working to reduce youth unemployment across Australia. Beacon brings schools, communities and businesses together in low socio-economic areas, and gives them the tools to work together to ensure there is a positive pathway for their youth into further education, training or the workplace. This is achieved through a range of programs which upskill young people and teach them about various industries and career paths, with collaboration throughout from local businesses and people in the community. Beacon also works to place young people in meaningful first-time jobs which have the potential to lead to great careers.

Describe a typical day's work.

Being responsible for Beacon’s finances, a typical day involves reviewing day-to-day financial transactions, maintaining our accrual accounting journals and overseeing the work of the Finance Officer. Most days I am in touch with our fundraising team, working with them to prepare budgets for funding proposals and Beacon events, and preparing funding acquittals for our funders. Some days involve preparing management reports for our Board and for various program areas within Beacon. As well as ensuring all our financial reporting obligations are met, I also have the role of Company Secretary.

What were some of the key learnings from the Certificate in Governance for Not-for-Profits program?

A key learning for me from the course was around my role as Company Secretary, finding out what responsibilities I have, particularly under the law, and how best I can fulfil this role. Also, the session on effective minute taking was a very practical module that translated straight into my work as Company Secretary.  Another key learning was about good governance and best practice in this area for not-for-profits, which gave me some great tools and ideas to come back to Beacon with.

How has it impacted / changed / benefited your role and your organisation as a whole?

Since returning from the course, I have put into place certain aspects of a good governance framework that were previously missing from our organisation. The course helped to strengthen my understanding of the details of regulatory compliance as it applies to NFPs. I also have more confidence in my role as Company Secretary, partly due to a greater understanding of this role, and also due to a greater understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the directors, and knowing how best I can support them in these roles.

How did you come to be working in the not-for-profit sector?

I completed my accountancy training in a large Big Four company, starting first in London (where I am originally from) and then moving to Tasmania. Whilst this provided a great start to my career professionally, I found I lacked passion in my work as I wasn’t making a positive impact on society….the harder I worked, the more money that went into the pockets of a very small number of people. This wasn’t providing me with the motivation and enjoyment that I was looking for from my job. I had always had an interest in working in the NFP sector, and when the role with Beacon came up, I jumped at the chance to join them, and have never looked back.

What do you feel is most needed to sustain and build the impact of the not-for-profit sector?

A key element of building the impact of the NFP sector is making sure that the work that is being done in this sector is sustainable, beyond the involvement of the NFP organisation. This is something that Beacon is working hard to achieve – making sure that we are providing schools and communities with the tools and skills they need, guiding and facilitating them over a three-year period, and putting in place a structure to carry on Beacon’s work beyond this point in time, without Beacon’s involvement. This gives Beacon the chance to move on to other schools and communities that also need our help, slowly making a positive improvement across Australia.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I am very passionate about music, and play the piano and flute, achieving Grade 7 and 8 respectively under the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music in the UK. I also sing, and have a Bishop’s Chorister Award under the Royal School of Church Music in the UK, for choral singing.

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"A key element of building the impact of the NFP sector is making sure that the work that is being done in this sector is sustainable, beyond the involvement of the NFP organisation."


Catherine is a Chartered Accountant, currently working in the role of Chief Financial Officer for the Beacon Foundation, a charity working to reduce youth unemployment. Prior to this, she worked at KPMG within the audit and advisory departments for 7 years, both in London, UK and Hobart, Australia.

In 2014, ASF awarded Catherine a scholarship to attend the Governance Institute's Certificate in Governance for Not-for-Profits.


Annual revenue / size:

Medium - $250,000 - $5m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Education & Research, and Employment, Development & Housing

Operating in: