Karen Dang

University of Queensland
Graduate Accountant, Audit and Assurance
Karen studied Bachelor of Commerce/ Bachelor of Laws at University of Queensland

What's your job about?

Grant Thornton is a world leading accounting firm that provides independent assurance, tax and advisory services. I am part of the Audit and Assurance division. The majority of the time, I am out at the client site. The size of the client and the type of visit influences how many days I am at their site.

During planning visits,  I have discussions with management and the finance team to get an understanding on what controls are in place and the details of certain processes. For example, how the client receives and recognises their revenue.  

During year-end visits, we are allocated different cycles to manage. As a graduate,  I am typically responsible for the Cash, GST and Operating expenses cycles. This could involve looking through source documents to verify figures, hold discussions with management to understand the fluctuations in account balances or selecting a sample of transactions to conduct testing. There are always plenty of challenges and new things to learn!

What's your background?

I was born and raised in Brisbane. Towards the end of high school I discovered my interest in Accounting so enrolled into a Bachelors of Commerce/Law. During university, I realised I was not as interested in Law as I was in Commerce but decided to finish off both degrees. This took me 5.5 years! Looking back, even though I spent a longer time at university, it allowed me more time to grow and develop into the person I am today. I had a couple of part time jobs while studying; I was a pharmacy assistant and an administration assistant at an accounting firm. I also volunteered for different organisations, studied on exchange in Hong Kong and did some travelling. After graduating mid-year in 2015 I continued my travels to Japan, USA, Canada and Central Europe.

I did a vacation program for two weeks in the Tax division but discovered it was not the field I wanted to focus on. I then applied for a graduate position at Grant Thornton in Audit and have now been here for nine months.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

It is rewarding when a client you have worked on for a few months finally gets signed off and archived. Although there may be speed bumps along the way and some overtime involved, a simple ‘thank you’ from the client and my team showing their appreciation of my work means a lot.  When this happens I know that I am in the right place doing the right thing.

What are the limitations of your job?

Audit can be demanding during the busy season in order to meet deadlines. As such, sometimes working overtime and on weekends becomes inevitable. When you try and balance this with CA study as well, it can get hectic! Thankfully, my team is very supportive when help is needed and I get flexibility to take leave for study/exams.

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

  1. Travel - Go out there and explore! Experience different people, culture and perspectives. Travelling is the best way for you to learn more about yourself.
  2. Appreciate the bad times as well as the good – Something good comes out of every tough time. This could be people that have supported you along the way, a lesson that was learnt or a skill that you have built.
  3. Embrace opportunities – Whether it is getting a part-time job, studying abroad or meeting new people, take the initiative to seize opportunities, and see what you can learn and achieve from it. 

A quote to summarise either what it’s like to work at GT or what’s been your best experience so far

The best experience so far is being able to look back after making it through the busy season and my first CA subject, and realising how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learnt.