Where did you grow up? Talk us through your education.
I grew up in Dubai where I also did my schooling. I studied at a UK university named Middlesex University. I also completed ACCA, which is a UK Based CA (equivalent to Australian CA). I worked as an intern in both commercial and audit (big 4) firms during my university years. After I graduated, my first job was in an oil firm in Dubai. I worked there for a year before I migrated to Australia. In Australia, I worked in the finance department of a retail company before starting my position at PwC.
How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?
Before moving from Dubai to Sydney, I had completed ACCA - which is an Australian CA equivalent Professional Qualification. I applied through for the position of Accountant at PwC through PwC Graduate Program. I have been at PwC for more than 2 years now.
How did you choose your specialisation? Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?
Being new to Sydney, I wanted to understand various business operations. The best way to learn about this is by being an auditor for multiple clients across different industries. I also had the relevant qualification and prior experience as an intern in the audit field. This was my rationale for choosing the specialisation.
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
The interview process was very challenging. We had a face-to-face interview, group exercise and individual report writing. The face-to-face interview had mostly behavioural questions and some current market relevant questions. The group exercise was fun; each group was provided with a scenario which had issues, we had to analyse the issues and come up with recommendations to resolve them. In the end, we had to provide a summary report.
What does your employer do?
PwC is a professional services organisation which provides assurance, advisory and tax services. I work in Assurance.
What are your areas of responsibility?
I currently work as a Senior Accountant on large and mid-sized assurance engagements with expertise in banking and capital markets, insurance and asset management. I am Involved in engagement planning and determining audit risks, conducting process walkthroughs for key business operations, assessing the adequacy of internal controls, analysing client’s accounting methods in comparison with standards and providing client feedback on financial statements.
Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on?
A typical work day would be different throughout the year depending on the phase of audit you are currently in during the year. There is a lot of project management involved. The last thing that I worked on was controls testing for a client in the Financial services space.
What are the career prospects with your job? / Where could you or others in your position go from here?
The next step up from a Senior Accountant is being a Manager of an audit engagement. Other career prospects include secondment to other countries or other areas such as regulatory (non-audit) works.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Being in financial services audit, it is best to have a finance background and a basic understanding of accounting. However, many people with different educational backgrounds join the assurance space. For example, you could join the IT side of audit by joining the Risk Assurance division (even without an IT Background in University). There is a lot of on-the-job training available, therefore regardless of your background, you will be easily able to pick up the job and perform at level with your peers.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I see myself in the finance division of any firm (eg. a retail company).
What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?
The most interesting part about my job is planning audit strategies about various areas of the financial statements. I also love the fact this job gives me the opportunity to build my skills in communication and client management.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Do you have to work on weekends? Are the stress levels high?
The stress levels and deadline pressures are the biggest limitations of the job. At the beginning of the year, you know what your year looks like; what the busy periods and low periods are. Therefore, you can plan your holidays and work-life balance accordingly. Yes, there are late hours and a few weekends during the busy times of the year, however, you have always an awesome team to support you!
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?