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Associate in assurance services
John Louis studied Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance)
What is your background and where did you grow up?
My family moved to Australia when I was a little boy. I spent most of my childhood in Queensland and moved to Victoria to attend boarding school before attending university. My parents moved overseas while I was at school so I’ve had plenty of opportunity for travel while visiting them.
How did you get to your current job position?
In my first year of university I took part in a three day ‘Introduction to EY’ program called the Career Compass Program. I then interviewed for a vacationer position before being offered a graduate position and I haven’t looked back since.
How did you choose your specialisation?
I wanted to start working in a sector that would give me as many options as possible in the future. In my first year working at EY, I have been exposed to a variety of business areas and experienced many exciting and challenging professional environments. Towards the end of university I certainly didn’t know exactly what direction I wanted to take and feel incredibly fortunate to work in a role that will open many doors for me in the future.
What was your interview process like?
The Recruitment Day comprised of a coffee catch up, an interview, a group activity and a lunch. It was amazing to see how much effort they put into the recruitment and selection process. The interview was a really great experience. I was asked lots of questions about myself and my involvement in things outside of simply ‘studying’. I also got the opportunity to express why I wanted to work at EY and simultaneously learn more about the organisation.
Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study?
In terms of study I would certainly suggest that a bit of accounting won’t go amiss, otherwise anything different that you can bring to the assurance team from a study perspective will be valued.
Regarding work experience, try and find something that allows you the opportunity to critically assess the facts. Developing a capacity for independent decision making and assuming responsibility are also invaluable skills to acquire before entering the workforce. Find somewhere to volunteer as organisations are always looking for young people to get involved and there will be plenty of opportunities to improve your skills. My job is all about dealing with people and understanding their way of thinking, or influencing it.
What does your employer do?
EY is a professional services organisation that provides services in tax, advisory, assurance and transactions advisory services – working with a variety of clients from big multinational organisations to start-ups and high net worth individuals.
What are your areas of responsibility?
As an associate, I’m mostly responsible for completing my allocated parts of an engagement. Over the last 12 months I have been able to take on more responsibilities relating to team planning and organising and further supporting the team wherever necessary.
Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on?
A big part of my job revolves around working at the client’s office. This means that my days change often. This is because the majority of my work involves working and communicating with the client, lots and lots of it! I typically work in teams of between four to eight people so coffee breaks and lunches are usually a very important part of the day.
A typical day at work is all about managing yourself and the various responsibility that you have to simultaneously keep on top of. It’s not often that we aren’t busy with lots of things at once.
The last thing I worked on was setting up meetings with various members of the client before we travelled to one of their sites in Sydney.
What sort of person succeeds in your career?
Someone that is willing to work hard and really wants to succeed in the profession. The first few years (I have been told) require determination and resilience but provide a world of opportunity in time.
What are the career prospects with your job?
One of the most attractive aspects of my job is the opportunities that it allows me in the future. As a Chartered Accountant we will have a skill set that is applicable to many areas of business and commerce. Certainly roles within industry related to finance/treasury/accounting are obvious paths but there really are no limits.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Certainly. There will be some basics you will need to pick up, however my job revolves around problem solving skills and an ability to apply one’s experience to new challenges.
What do you love the most about your job?
I love the people with whom I work and the teams that I am a part of. A team is a group of people who are responsible for one particular client. The best part of my job is the amount of responsibility that I have. For many this sounds scary but I think this is a really important part of enjoying work and feeling like you’re achieving something.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job?
In our roles as associates my colleagues and I often feel like we have a lot of work and not enough time. This is when the value of being a part of a team really reveals itself as we all have to work together to meet a deadline. We certainly have a lot of responsibility with respect to the work we have been allocated and this can be stressful at times. However, as I mentioned, being able to be part of a team and feel supported is a really important quality of my job.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I’m really not sure. I love mathematics/engineering/computing and finance, so maybe I’ll start a rocket or electric car company.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?
- Start taking action early! Don’t wait until you have graduated to find a job. This will make life a lot easier and less stressful for yourself.
- Meet and talk to as many people as you can.
- Have fun at university and don’t be intimidated by jobs/employers. If you want something bad enough, go for it!