I experienced a persistent rash on my arms, was waking up intermittently at night as if in fright and not really sleeping. Dr. Grant of Wodonga made an appointment for me with a specialist in Baylis Street, Wagga Wagga. I do not recall his name. Tom and Mick, my two mates, took the day off work and drove me to Wagga. The Specialist put me through a thorough gruelling and told me I was over-working. His verdict – “nervous debility”. His advice – “study accountancy and work for yourself”.
My employer was considerate and realised the seriousness of my condition. I was transferred to Head Office in Melbourne and took on the role of assistant internal auditor. This involved routine daily work, 8.45 am till 5.15 pm and regular in-hour visits to the company’s 14 country branches. I registered with the Australian Society of Accountants to do a correspondence course but admit that I was an ordinary student. I was easily distracted. I boarded with my brother John’s family in Prahran and really enjoyed life for the next two years.
Out of the blue management offered me a transfer to the Benalla Branch of the VPC. It was experiencing some difficulties and the manager, Mr Kevin Donnelly, with whom I had previously worked, asked that I be transferred to take charge of the office administration.
I must admit that in my 15 years with the company I had never found any real satisfaction with my job. I could never see any future. I continued in Benalla until 1966 and changed jobs. On being married, I again changed jobs and worked for Jim Smith in his accounting practice.
Here was the dormant opportunity. Study Accountancy and work for yourself. In 1968 I renewed my interest in studying accountancy in earnest. The Australian Society of Accountants was phasing out its examination. To comply with its requirements, I would need to study 100 hours per subject to ensure a pass. This necessitated 20 hours per week which I strictly adhered to.
November 1972 came around. I had one subject to pass to qualify as an accountant. By chance it was the termination of the Society’s exams.
In all my study years I had not known one student who had passed Auditing on first try. The pressure was on!
The date for the examination came around! I sat for Auditing for the first time! 60% pass mark! 58% was not good enough! I failed! The Society was not conducting any more examinations. I was in Limbo!
Then fate smiled. The Society compromised with the Bendigo Institute of Technology, now La Trobe University, and it was agreed that I could do a 12-month course with the Institute. This involved travelling three times per week from Benalla to Bendigo for the year, and then doing their final examination. A strenuous year. Fortunately, the examination was a breeze after my tutored year. I passed with 87%.
“Study accountancy!” Accomplished.
“Work for yourself!” Still to come!
Then came the toughest year of all. Qualify as a Chartered Accountant to become eligible for partnership. With hard work this was achieved. I borrowed money to enable the purchase of a 1/3rd interest in James H. Smith & Co., thence Smith O’Shannessy & Co. I was working for myself.
Subsequently I was awarded a Fellowship of the Chartered Institute and increased my interest in the partnership to 50%.
Thanks to Neurologist Specialist (name unknown), Baylis Street, Wagga Wagga. I had followed your advice!
“STUDY ACCOUNTANCY, AND WORK FOR YOURSELF”
Ray O’Shannessy, FCA., CPA
19 April 2020