Jess Yap

Jess Yap

Macquarie University
Finance Graduate
Jess studied Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Commerce at Macquarie University

What's your job about?

Downer EDI is a large public engineering company mainly providing services across Australia and New Zealand. As for myself, I currently work under Downer Rail, one of the five divisions within Downer which specialises in rail infrastructure and rolling stock, and Corporate Downer, the head office across all the divisions. Seeing as I’m not an engineer, my area of responsibility falls under the financial reporting team at Rail and Corporate.

I kickstarted the graduate program by applying my accounting knowledge into Downer Rail’s accounts and began developing my understanding of the various accounting/reporting programs within Rail and across Downer Group. Since I started, I’ve had exposure to Clyman, Oracle, Coins OA, Coins Plus and Blackline, all of which I had never heard of before I started. If I had to narrow down to one application that I use everyday, it’d be excel. It’s one of the best programs to use for small, medium or large companies to calculate, analyse and manage data. The best thing about it is that it’s a transferable skill to have across companies.

I’m currently responsible for intercompany (in Corporate), which involves working with the other divisions on recharges between their division and Downer EDI. It’s one of the tasks that require engaging with other divisional representatives.

What's your background?

I’m currently residing in Sydney, however, that wasn’t always the case. I was born and raised in Perth until the end of high school and from then on, I’ve lived in Sydney. My family and I moved together so it made the transition a lot smoother, however, the decision to move wasn’t easy, I’ve had to sacrifrice relationships, friends and work opportunities throughout the process but everything happens for a reason.

As much as I miss Perth, the best time of my life was university. I experienced everything that university had to offer, and I mean everything! As everyone would agree, it wasn’t the study component that made it enjoyable, it was the people that I met along the way. I was involved in a number societies including the Fashion and Beauty Appreciation Society, Mentors@Macquarie, Buddies and Vietnamese Students Association just to name a few. While there was the social aspect, I was also employed as an Student Assistant with Access Macquarie and Macquarie University. 

My most memorable experiences during University was when I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to study abroad in Canada. I studied a number of business units at the University of Waterloo and experienced what it’s like to be a Canadian! It was also the first time where I had to be completely independent. Did you know clothes don’t wash themselves? (Kidding!)

What got me to where I am today were the experiences that I had, being involved in all these activities helped demonstrate my leadership, adaptability and teamwork skills.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, however, their way in working would differ from mine. If I had to name three skills required to fulfil a Finance Analyst role, it’d be to possess analytical, communication and self-management skills. If I was compared to someone with higher university grades than mine, they would likely be quick to complete the task at hand but not possess the necessary analytical skills required to complete it efficiently. Additionally, communication and self-management are also critical as a result of the work environment one’s in. It’s not always looking at data, it’s about analysing then reporting it in a coherent manner.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

Flexibility and work life balance is definitely the case at Downer. Strangely enough, I’m a bit of an early bird and prefer to start early and finish early, especially while I’m studying part time. In addition, if commitments were to urgently come up, Downer provides the necessary time off to ensure we, and our families, are looked after. This is all down to trust within the company, if I had to leave for a celebratory dinner, my manager’s decision to let me leave early on a day shows whether I’m doing something right.

What are the limitations of your job?

Downer isn’t an accounting firm, they’re a company providing engineering services. As such, the types of exposure that I get here is very different to a practice or accounting firm environment.  Rather than specialising or working with a range of external clients, my role to date has been about maximising revenue and getting insights and exposure to a broad range of financial processes. 

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Be open to meeting new people in class, at society meetings and social events. Engaging in networks early will open up opportunities you wouldn’t have even thought of.
  2. Don’t regret – everything happens for a reason and whether it was a good or bad decision, it’s something that you can learn from.
  3. Don’t stress – is it going to affect you in 12 months? If yes, understandable, if no, why hold on to it? Failing a unit, module or subject may sound like it’s the worst result possible, but it’s how you pick yourself up and recover from it.