Looking back on 40 years at Kennerlys with Sue Peterson

Sue’s 40th Video

You know that at Kennerlys we love to celebrate special occasions. Whether it’s birthdays, a new baby or work anniversaries – we’re always ready for cake and good cheer. At the end of last year we celebrated Sue Peterson’s 40th anniversary with Kennerlys.

Now that the celebrations have finished, the festive season is over and we’re all back from holiday break, I thought it would be a good time to catch up with Sue (over coffee, of course) and find out what keeps this loyal and dedicated lady happily humming through 40 years of great accounting and even greater client support.


So Sue, 40 years is a long time to be getting out of bed early each morning to start your working day.  How do you like to start each morning?  What motivates you to get up and get stuck into a new day?

“It’s just something that I do and always have done for my clients.  I don’t really think about it.  Besides, I like my early mornings when the office is peaceful and quiet.”


What are the best things about your work at Kennerlys?

“I like the engagement with clients, that’s what it’s all about. I like to keep clients happy. I really enjoy meeting with generations of family clients that I have worked with for decades – I have watched them grow their families, their businesses and witnessed their personal growth. It’s very rewarding.”


Why do you think clients love working with you, Sue?

“I think I have such a great relationship with my clients because I don’t beat around the bush. I am upfront and open with everyone and I think clients find this refreshing and honest. I tell clients that ‘I’m not your normal accountant!’”


What are some changes in accounting or clients’ needs that you’ve seen over your 40 year career?

“Well even though I started when I was about 27, people and their needs have remained pretty much the same as back then.  And I think accounting practises are (for the most part) the same too – the biggest change has been in technology. Technology means we can connect with each other much easier and faster and there are now many software programs, apps and systems that greatly assist in accounting and taxation preparation, reporting, reviewing and lodging.”

“When I first started work, we used to have a Telex machine for sending and receiving written messages.  I remember Don Kennerly waiting up at 1am in the morning for a Telex message to come through. Getting information to and from clients quickly was always a challenge in those days, but you still did everything you could for your clients.  Technology has certainly changed the way we work today.”

“Client dedication has never changed for me – I’ve always been committed to giving my clients the highest level of service, expertise and advice that I can.  I am a firm believer in maintaining strong client relationships — never make a client wait longer than necessary to return their phone call.”


What do you know now that you wish you knew 40 years ago when you first started your accounting career?

“Hmm, there’s so many things that I’ve learnt in 40 years, it’s hard to name just one thing, but I’d certainly do it all over again.  I am very lucky that I found the right career for me from the start.”


What’s the biggest lesson you can share?

“I tell young accountants that you have got to crawl before you walk. That they will have to do the hard yards before they see the reward. They need to keep focused, keep learning, work hard and always keep the client at the top.  I’m a strong believer in hard work to reap the rewards. You’ve got to practice what you preach.”


Do you have a memorable client moment you can share?

“Ha ha, yes!  One of my clients was Kevin Bloody Wilson (Kev). Kev used to visit our office when it was on Ventnor Avenue and he hates lifts, so he took the stairs.  Well, one of the girls I worked with used to ride her bike into work and leave it in the stairwell with her change of clothing over the bike – you know, like her singlets, lingerie, riding shorts etc. So, Kev couldn’t help himself, he’d bring them up into the office and say “Ahhhh, who do these belong to…?”  “Yep, she quickly stopped leaving her personal items on her bike!”


I’ve got to ask about those West Coast Eagles. Why do you love footy and the Eagles?  And what else do you like to do when you’re not working?

“I’ve loved footy for a long time. I used to follow West Perth before the West Coast Eagles came on the scene. I would go to every game West Perth played, no matter where.  My husband, Dave and I would sit on the grass and watch the game, but he didn’t love it as much as me, and he wasn’t very pleased if they lost – his father used to walk out at half time if the team was losing!  Then I began following the West Coast Eagles and still enjoy every game – win or lose.  I would never follow the Dockers.

Gardening and listening to the radio are also things I enjoy in my down time — I can just block out all other things and be with my own thoughts.  Often I’ll use this time to plan my next day or week.”


Thanks Sue, all the best for the footy season!

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