David Dahm, CEO and Founder of
Health & Life Practice Advisers

Great Hall donor’s defining moment sparked career change

Great Hall Inverted Pyramid

After graduating from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Accounting, David Dahm landed what he thought was his dream job: working for a leading accounting firm and heading towards Wall Street. However, after working long hours one night David was involved in a serious car accident. Following nine operations and a long recovery he subsequently had an awakening and realised that health and life are more important than money. David changed the direction and focus of his career and started to “work for the man of the street instead of the man on Wall Street.”

David is now the CEO and Founder of Health & Life Practice Advisors, which is a leading national Consulting, Tax and Accounting advisory firm to the healthcare profession focused on creating a sustainable and socially responsible healthcare system. Following his accident, David redefined what he thought was the meaning of ‘success’ and attributes his achievements - including receiving a range of awards and advising on numerous boards - to treating those how you like to be treated and giving back to society. When David was presented with the opportunity to donate to the Great Hall, and choose his ‘three words to live by’, he drew upon this.

Why did you choose to donate to the Great Hall?

I got a lot from my time studying at the University of South Australia and received a high quality education. Still to this day, I continue to use my degree and draw upon what I learnt. There is sincerity in the teaching at UniSA. The decision to donate to the Great Hall is my way of giving back to the University and saying ‘thank you’. The skills I received from UniSA have helped me throughout my successful career.

What inspired your three words to live by, “Integrity defines success”, on the Inverted Pyramid?

When I graduated from UniSA, I worked at a big accounting firm and witnessed the real character of those who I thought at the time were successful. I learnt that success is not all about wealth; it’s defined by how you reach your goals and treat people along the way. I have noticed that a lot of people are too consumer-driven and society as a whole needs to get back to basics in order to reinstate the meaningfulness of success. People should look outside of themselves and think carefully about how their actions impact on others around them.

Do you have any words of advice for recent graduates?

Don’t apply for every job advertised in your field. Research the industry you are interested in and the key companies within it. Getting a job is a process and one you should start thinking about at the beginning of your degree. When you apply for a position, show that you have researched the company and talk about how your goals, temperament and personality suit the company’s values and targets. Don’t forget that lecturers are very influential and have industry contacts and may be ideally placed to advise you on any career plans you may have. Employers want to see strategic thinkers who are dynamic and can demonstrate initiative, not just grades. Finally, don’t be afraid to fail, always give it a go.

Anything you would like to add?

With every task, you get back the effort which you put in. Treat people how you want to be treated. Be honest with yourself and don’t get caught up in the hype. Find what you are passionate about and go for it.


We are inviting alumni, staff and supporters to make a donation of AUD$1,000 to embed themselves in the DNA of the Great Hall in one of the permanent sculptural features of the facility. Please visit: www.unisa.edu.au/greathall

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