by Kian West
COMMITTED MIRAGE READERS MIGHT REMEMBER THAT AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS YEAR, I BECAME A DIRECTOR ON THE BOARD OF THE HUNTER YOUNG PROFESSIONALS. TAKING THIS ROLE SERIOUSLY, I SAW THE BIGGEST BENEFIT I COULD GIVE THE ORGANISATION STRAIGHT AWAY WOULD BE TO INCREASE THE EXPOSURE THE GROUP GET ACROSS MEDIA, INCLUDING INTERVIEWING KEY DIRECTORS. THIS MONTH I SAT DOWN WITH THE CURRENT VICE PRESIDENT, HANNA BARRY, TO GET A SENSE OF WHAT SHE DOES AND WHY HYP IS SO IMPORTANT.
I’ve got to admit, our chat at The Edwards that evening was quite long – waaay too long to print the whole thing because, as it turns out, Hanna is just as chatty as I am (if not more so). So I tried to grab the best bits for print, and the rest will be available as a podcast recording later this month – look us up on your favourite podcast service.
If you’re at a house party, how do you describe yourself?
Hanna: I’d tell them the truth. I’d tell them I’m an accountant. I’d probably be in the kitchen, talking about people – it sounds bizarre, but I always do: what makes them tick, why they do things, people in general.
I really like what I do. I always tell people I’m an accountant and they always go ‘Ergh’ and then I say, ‘No no, I really love it!’ In terms of helping people – we actually provide meaning behind these numbers, and we actually help them to use that data that they’re sitting on to make decisions.
Is that because the average person’s only idea of accountants is tax time?
Yeah. It’s actually a really small component of what we do. We’re in touch with our clients all the time, constantly having conversations about what it’s about.
So you aren’t sitting in front of Excel spreadsheets all day?
[Laughs] No. Not all day. We do spend a lot of time in front of Excel spreadsheets, because that’s our preferred presentation method and you can do so much.
Is it still the preferred tool?
We do have a lot of automated systems now, with the whole big data algorithms – we use them as much as we can.
You’re not just an accountant – you’re also the Vice President of Hunter Young Professionals. How long have you been with HYP?
This is my third year… Hmmm, maybe my fourth year? 2013. Two as the secretary and then two as the Vice President. I think our role is to enable the team to do what they do. Whatever they need to make it happen. The team of Directors are the ones making all of this happen.
People really like being told a story; they like to learn something. It can make it more relatable. If you want to learn [from] someone who is really successful, [you ask] ‘How did they get that valuable insight? ‘What did you do to get it?’ I think when people have a story it makes it really engaging. When people have a story to tell, we get the best feedback from events.
When you’re not at HYP events, what do you like doing?
Well I really love work and I really love the gym – I have pretty much the same day every single day. I get up every morning and go to the gym; I go crazy if I don’t. Then I might have a HYP meeting, I go to work, maybe some HYP stuff in the afternoon, or I’m on the Renew Newcastle board as well, so I might have work for them as well as the Business Centre stuff. I’m probably lucky that my partner is the exact opposite to me; he’s so cool, calm and collected. He balances me out.
If you could teach Novocastrians one thing, what would it be?
It probably sounds really corny, but you should really take all the opportunities that you’re given and take them as opportunities. At first they may be unpleasant, like networking for example: unpleasant initially, but you know what, Newcastle is such a small place [that] you’ll find someone – you’ll have something in common.
Do you have a mission statement for Hanna Barry?
Not an official one. I’d like to think I am always willing to learn. That I might have a meltdown at the time, but I feel like if you give me feedback, I’ll take that on board and learn from it. I’m always constantly learning and having a go. I’d like to think people can tell me something and I’ll take it on.
Where do you normally hang out in Newcastle?
At Balance? [laughs] Balance City. Pete and I eat out a lot – The Edwards, Talulah, Sherwood to get my coffee every day, Dixon Park Beach a lot… I feel like I’m boring?
If someone comes to visit?
Definitely breakfast at Talulah, then maybe to the beach or the baths for a swim, then probably take them to the Hunter Valley. Take them for a walk through Glenrock.
Anything else Novocastrians should know about you?
It’s OK to tell me to use my inside voice and that I’m talking too much.
Who should become a member of HYP?
I think everyone should become a member. I know that sounds silly, but honestly, there is something for everyone and if you take it as an opportunity to learn something, then you have nothing to lose. Everybody is welcome.
There you go. Hanna Barry is ready to chat with you at the next Hunter Young Professionals event (check the website [www.hunteryoungprofessionals.com.au] for details) and introduce yourself to the Directors.