'Voice of IEU' passes on the reins after 20 years

For years members’ first point of contact with the IEU was Cheryl Baxter, whose reassuring voice steered many in the right direction.

Employed as receptionist in 1994, Cheryl manned the switchboard for 12 years, until she decided switch alone wasn’t enough for her, and moved over to accounts about eight years ago.

With no accounts background, having previously worked at the Red Cross in admin, she picked up the reins pretty quickly to develop a reputation as a formidable guardian of IEU finances.

“I think it’s important to have someone who keeps a tight rein on things like credit cards and expense claims, especially when you look at what has happened at other unions,” Cheryl said.

During her 20 years tenure, Cheryl said the Union has grown significantly in both numbers of members and staff, but the increased workload has been compensated for by improved computer systems.

Moving to the new office at Wattle St from Day St was one of the major events in her career.

“The Union has been a great place to work. They have always been very supportive when I’ve had problems. You know they care when you look at the work the officers do for the members.”

In retirement Cheryl plans to swap Bankstown for a more relaxed lifestyle on the north coast, where she will do volunteer work.

“I already volunteer for meals on wheels, so I have been looking into volunteering opportunities at Port Macquarie.”

Cheryl has vowed to keep an eye on the IEU: “After 20 years you miss a place.”

Cheryl’s replacement Ram Rajbhandari said he is thrilled to be learning the job from someone with 20 years experience.

Originally from Nepal, Ram came to Australia because he was keen to gain a recognised degree from a western university.

He already had a Masters in Business Administration from Nepal before he farewelled his family, including his twin brother, to embark on his lone voyage to do a Masters of Professional Accountancy at Central Queensland University.

“I missed my orientation because I couldn’t find the university, even though it was only five minutes from the station,” Ram said.

“It was my first time in a big city and I wasn’t used to it.”

Ram said he was inspired to seek a western education having met many educated American, Canadian and Australian tourists when he worked as a tour guide in Nepal.

Ram’s twin brother, also an accountant, now works nearby in Stanmore, and Ram is sponsoring his wife, a doctor, to join him from Nepal.

“I have worked for a couple of big and small companies, but this is the first time I’ve worked somewhere where everybody smiles.

‘I’m really pleased to come and work for an organisation like the IEU with such a long history.”