Student Spotlight: Meet the newly appointed Student Representative for The Tax Institute Higher Education



Student Spotlight - Meet the Student Representative


In February, The Tax Institute Higher Education appointed a new Student Representative to the Academic Board. Hansini De Fonseka will act as a strong advocate for our candidate community and offer a student perspective to help shape the future of our education programs. In her interview with us, Hansini shares insights into her new role and career in tax so far.

Please tell us a bit about your tax career.

My career in public practice started in 2017 after I graduated from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Commerce (Dean’s Scholar), double majoring in accounting and finance. I was fortunate to get my first job as a junior accountant in one of the largest accounting firms on the far south coast of NSW, Booth Partners in Nowra. This is where I had my first glimpse into the world of accounting and taxation. While working at Booth Partners, I gained in-depth experience and training in the preparation of financial statements and tax returns for individuals and other entities. I also had the opportunity to engage in audit and assurance services which helped immensely in developing my critical thinking and analytical skills.

After 3 years, I relocated to South Australia and became part of the much-reputed William Buck Group. I am currently working as a senior accountant in the business advisory division of William Buck Adelaide, where I deal with very complicated and complex business groups and structures, as well as high net wealth individuals. I am a CPA and Associate member of The Tax Institute, where I am also an active candidate in the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law Program.

What is your role as the Student Representative for The Tax Institute Higher Education?

As a student representative of the Academic Board, I will provide a student perspective on academic governance, quality assurance, policymaking, integrity, and strategy. I am a strong advocate for promoting better teaching programs to all candidates who are keen on expanding their knowledge in taxation and look forward to contributing towards continuously uplifting the standards and quality of the program on offer.

How did you first hear about the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law and why did you choose to enrol?

After my initial months working as an accountant, I wanted to learn and explore more about the tax legislation and systems in Australia. I was looking for value-add programs that would further enhance my knowledge in taxation, and that’s when I came across the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law.

Upon further research, I found that the program is structured to give students an in-depth understanding of key tax compliance, principals, and processes. Furthermore, the program covered very important tax topics that I frequently visited myself as a tax accountant, such as capital gains tax, small business entity concessions, GST, etc. The content and program structure immediately appealed to me, and this alongside the flexibility in choosing subjects and the ability to transition to the Chartered Tax Adviser Program, as a result of common subjects on both programs, were all key factors in my decision.

What are the top skills and knowledge you’ve taken away from your studies?

CTA1 Foundations and CTA2A Advanced are structured to give an in-depth understanding of the key principals of tax legislation, which has been extremely useful in performing my role in public practice. My research and analytical skills have been greatly improved as a result of the subjects prompting us to use the tax legislation as a reference point for problem-solving. I’ve also maintained detailed notes throughout my studies, which I constantly refer to as a guide when in doubt of the application of any piece of tax legislation, or when in need of clarity about the tax office rulings and guidelines.

How did you juggle study, work and other commitments and perform so well?

It is never an easy task, but I believe time management is the key to success. I have always been a very methodical and organised person and try to plan my days in advance so that I can fit work and study into a happy and balanced lifestyle. It is important not to get overwhelmed by study and exams and take a break if feeling overly stressed because the more you stress, the less productive you become.

What advice do you have for other tax professionals considering the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law Program?

This program is worth your time and money. It is very well structured and dives deep into important tax topics and legislation that we come across daily as tax professionals. Therefore, it is a very good course to further broaden your knowledge and exposure across the different tax specialisations. It’s also a good refresher on the latest tax updates and legislative changes.

After undertaking the course, I personally felt my capabilities and confidence levels grow to better perform in my role as a tax professional. The learning materials offered throughout the program are detailed, and the topics discussed are very relevant to what we do at work, therefore making the acquired knowledge invaluable.

The Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law provides individuals of all levels - from recent graduates to experienced tax and financial specialists - with the expertise to provide superior professional tax advice, and undertake highly-skilled tax work across a range of contexts. 

Ready to continue your education in tax?