Daniel Malusa

University of Technology Sydney
Tax graduate
Daniel Malusa studied Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Business at the University of Technology Sydney.

Tell us about your background and where you grew up.

I attended school in south west Sydney. I have worked across a myriad of sectors since commencing my first job in hospitality at the age of 14. The most transferable skill set to my current position I developed in the latter part of my university degree where I worked at an emerging consumer finance firm based in the inner eastern suburbs. While the technical skills I used in that position may not be analogous to that of my current positions, the soft skills and relationships I developed have proven invaluable.

How did you get to your current job position?

I attained my current position at KPMG by applying for their Sydney 2018 graduate program for tax. I commenced the graduate program mid-February and have now been with the company for two months.

What does your employer do?

My employer (KPMG) offers a range of professional services including tax, advisory and audit services to a global network. This global network comprises of organisations within the private and public sector, which KPMG dominate through their worldwide reach, size and reputation.

What are your areas of responsibility?

I work within the corporate tax, financial services team. More specifically, I am situated within the Delivery & Data and Excellence (DDX) team, which focuses on managing entities tax and statutory compliance.

How did you choose your specialisation?

My decision to apply for a career within corporate tax stemmed methodically from my decision to study a law and business degree at university. I have always functioned analytically, both quantitatively and qualitatively. My degree provided me the platform to pursue a career which encompassed what I perceive to be my strengths.   

What was your interview process like?

The interview process was less intimidating than I anticipated. A lot of the questions were orientated on getting to know me and the experiences I had encountered as a university student and young professional. This suggested to me that KPMG were primarily focused on determining whether I would fit into and add value to their professional culture. I would emphasise to any prospective graduates that the interview process is the opportunity to distinguish themselves from other candidates through introducing themselves, beyond a number.

Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study?

Similarly to what I studied, I would advise any student interested in corporate tax to complement their business (or commerce) degree with a law degree. While business acumen and technical skills are invaluable in this field of work, I believe a law degree elevates a student as a more holistic candidate through greater development of soft skills throughout the degree. Additionally, knowledge of contractual relations, corporate structures, commercial engagements and analysis of tax laws and codes are all reinforced by a legal background.    

Can you describe a typical work day?

One of the most appealing aspects of working within a firm with the client reach and size of KPMG’s, is that there is no typical working day. A working day involves collaborating alongside numerous different senior personnel on various client engagements, to achieve the best outcome for the client.   

What sort of person succeeds in your career?

Someone of the qualities of people who would succeed in corporate tax at KPMG would be someone who:

  • has strong communication skills
  • is committed to career development
  • is highly analytical
  • has strong attention to detail
  • is open to feedback
  • can work effectively in small groups.

What are the career prospects with your job?

One of the biggest perks of working for a firm the size of KPMG is the opportunity to undertake international secondments. As well, there is potential to move teams within tax to gain exposure and experience across a range of tax issues. While I’ve been working here, I have seen numerous colleagues within my team move on to various in house opportunities, or more senior positions at other Big Four or mid-tier firms. That being said, it is not unusual for a graduates career prospects to be to climb the corporate ladder within KPMG. Many of KPMG’s most senior personnel started as graduates and now hold highly regarded positions within the company.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

I believe so and this is reflected through KPMG’s progressive approach in hiring graduates of various academic backgrounds. I believe this to be consistent with the 70-20-10 learning model which suggests that 70 per cent of learning and development happens on the job through engaging in new and challenging experiences. Thus, if technical skills can be developed on the job, soft skills become far more important for graduates looking to impress employers or break into this field of work. To date, I have met graduates with degrees in arts, humanities and political sciences.

What do you love the most about your job?

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is the responsibility I’ve undertaken since day one. This means I’ve been working on and liaising directly with a range of clients regarding all sorts of tax and statutory compliance issues. Also, commencing my professional career alongside other graduates of a similar age and academic background has accentuated an unparalleled social network.

What’s the biggest limitation of your job?

I feel there is a lot of responsibility in this field of work, particularly with managing and prioritising multiple client engagements at the one time. This may look something like having multiple managers setting similar deadlines for the different clients you are working with them on. This is where time management, as well as open, effective communication become invaluable. As soon as I become aware of a new engagement, I forecast my proposed working schedule for that client alongside my existing obligations. This allows me to determine early what is feasible, and how I can best satisfy all my client’s needs, as well as exceeding my superior’s expectations. Most importantly, this approach also prevents me having to work weekends or extreme hours.  

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?

If I wasn’t working in corporate tax, I’d be practising in criminal law.

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?

  1. Get as much working experience as you can to develop your business acumen and soft skills while at university. Don’t worry too much about whether the technical skills within that position correspond to your aspired career path.
  2. Fully immerse yourself within all the societies and extracurricular activities that university has to offer. Not only will these prove invaluable in developing soft skills for your professional career but the networking element of these activities provides the opportunity to engage with like-minded, career motivated individuals.
  3. Don’t try to sprint a marathon.