Grant Thornton

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Emma Zeibari

Audit and Assurance - Perth

Find your passion in your studies and the career you want to be in. Remember a job takes up a lot of your time, you want to have fun while doing it!”

What's your job about?

I work at Grant Thornton (GT) Perth as an Audit Associate. As an auditor, our role is to assess clients’ financial accounts to ensure completeness and accuracy. I am part of an engagement team that will be placed on a client for 1 – 4 weeks depending on the scope of the works. An engagement team will generally have an Associate, a Senior Associate, a Manager, and Partner. Our general working day will be spent out at the client’s office so we can interact with the client and understand how their business works and if there are any queries that we have, it makes life much easier.

We have the opportunity to travel to around Perth which makes every day different. Generally speaking, you will have a senior on your engagement team that is in charge of delegating the tasks of the whole engagement and assisting associates in the right direction with their work papers. As a first-year associate, our paper cycles are generally testing Cash, Accounts Payable, Operating Expenses, Capital Assets and Equity. A lot of the time we also get to expand into other work papers such as Accounts Receivable, Employee Comp and Provisions, Exploration and Evaluation and Journal Entries. We complete work papers from start to finish, where in most cases we test accounts by selecting samples from the client and making sure they match to their accounts. Each work paper is different from the other depending on the type of testing to be done.

What's your background?

I was born in Zimbabwe. I moved to Australia with my family when I was 9 and initially lived in QLD. At age 11, we moved to WA and it’s been my home ever since. As have been to many different primary and high schools over the years, I think has given me great skill in being able to adjust and adapt quickly. I started uni a few years later out of high school as I decided to travel and work before starting a full-time career to get some life experience. My journey with GT began when I applied to GT’s 2020/2021 Vacationer’s Program for the summer break. From there, I was offered a part-time undergraduate position as an Audit Associate during my last semester of University up until I graduated in June. I then started full-time as a Graduate in late June of 2021 (right at the start of the busy season!). I think this was a great way for me to enter the industry. It really helped to compound my learning and prepare me for the work in busy season.

What's the best thing about your job?

Every day is different, as you meet new people and get to travel to new locations. This means we get to check out some great coffee shops and food locations before we start work or during our lunch breaks! You also get to change teams for every client, so you’re constantly working with different people on every job and this helps to get to know more people in your service line.

The firm in itself has so many benefits. We have our office in the heart of the city which makes it so convenient for transport. There are always social events popping up throughout each month and we are provided with a large support network from all levels of the firm.

Within the Audit space, we get so much exposure to different companies and businesses very quickly so you are constantly learning. You also get a great overview of how each business runs its day-to-day procedures.

Honesty time – what are the main challenges for you?

Busy season! During the July – October period it is non-stop working on clients and comes with a little bit of added pressure. However, this is where I have learnt the most and laid the foundation for the future. Having to also juggle your CA study with full-time work can be challenging. What I try to do is to save a day on the weekend to set aside for getting study in and also get myself to do at least an hour after work when I can.

Sometimes travelling to different clients each week can shake up your routine a little but it helps to be super organized to stay on top of this. Sitting at a desk all day can be challenging. I make sure I go for quick walks to grab a coffee or snacks with colleagues and also making sure I leave my desk to eat my lunch helps to keep me active throughout the day as well.

I have established a good routine myself in the morning, where I get up early to attend a gym class each morning and get a quick brief walk in before I get ready. This helps me get into a good mindset for the day and get a lot of my personal tasks out of the way for me to focus on work for the rest of the day.

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

  1. Find your passion in your studies and the career you want to be in. Remember a job takes up a lot of your time, you want to have fun while doing it!
  2. Work backward from your goals (i.e. I want to be partner one day – how do you get there?)
  3. Make the most of all the resources that your university gives you or the CAANZ networking events/programs they have! Also, it’s never too early or too late to start using these.

Lillian Poh

Transfer Pricing Tax – Melbourne

“I really enjoy being able to take a deep dive into the companies and industries that our clients operate in. I work with clients who develop all types of innovative products and services which I never even knew existed prior to working.”

What's your job about?

I am a graduate of the Transfer Pricing (TP) team, a specialist team of the firm’s Tax division. More specifically, TP is an area of tax which focuses on the tax outcomes that arise from dealings between related companies in multinational enterprise groups.

I assist with writing reports which quantitatively and qualitatively establish whether our client’s related party transactions are ‘arm’s length’. That is, I help establish if the transactions are comparable to commercial dealings between independent companies.

I perform economic analyses for a wide range of transactions. This might range from determining appropriate interest rates for the provision of debt funding, licence fees for the grant of intellectual property rights or mark-ups to be applied to the provision of back-office services. In order to complete these analyses, this involves researching into comparable companies and comparing key profitability metrics. I also undertake qualitative analyses by assessing and documenting our client’s supply chain. This typically involves attending client meetings to gain a deeper understanding of their business operations, sometimes at our client’s site if possible.

Another part of my role involves assisting companies with their transfer pricing compliance obligations. Companies that exceed a certain value of international related party transactions are required to make additional disclosures in their income tax return. I liaise with clients and other teams in the firm to gather the necessary information, work with the client ensure their disclosures are accurate, and finally assist with lodgement of these documents.

What's your background?

I was born and raised in Melbourne. During my final years of high school, I enrolled in an economics class and found that I really enjoyed the application of the knowledge I gained in the classroom to the world around me. This inspired me to enter into an economics and finance degree at the University of Melbourne, where I was able to further my studies in this area.

Alongside my university studies, I took the opportunity to work in numerous part-time jobs and participate in university student societies. I tutored high school students, worked as an assistant accountant, and even worked as a retail assistant at the Australian Open during the summer. To explore my interests in fields outside my chosen area of study, I also undertook several internships in accounting and marketing, as well as held the position of President of a student marketing society.

Upon graduating, I focused on finding a role that would suit my academic background and one that would allow me to build upon my broad range of interests in different business industries. This led me to apply for the Transfer Pricing graduate position at Grant Thornton. I have now been working here for six months and am really enjoying it! I have had exposure to a wide range of interesting client issues and find that I’m constantly learning something new every day.

What's the best thing about your job?

I really enjoy being able to take a deep dive into the companies and industries that our clients operate in. I work with clients who develop all types of innovative products and services which I never even knew existed prior to working. As part of undertaking detailed business analyses for these companies, I have had the opportunity to meet with CEOs and CFOs to hear directly from them about the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of their businesses. Our clients have extensive knowledge regarding their businesses and market environment, and it’s always really interesting to hear about what makes their business tick!

Honesty time – what are the main challenges for you?

It can become quite demanding during busy periods. There are times where I will be required to work late hours to meet reporting deadlines. Whilst it can be difficult to maintain work-life balance during these periods, these are balanced out with quieter periods during other times of the year. In addition, our team members are all very supportive of one another, where everyone contributes to help others out when required.

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

  1. Seize each opportunity to learn as much as possible about different career paths that may appeal to you while you’re still a student. This can be done through applying for internships, volunteering, or participating in university events.
  2. Learning about what you don’t like in a job is equally as important as knowing about what you do like.
  3. Take the time to cultivate interests and hobbies outside of your academic pursuits.

James Dang

Private Business Tax and Advisory - Melbourne

“As I gain more experience, I am given the opportunity to assist with the more complex items such as tax returns for companies and trusts, tax advice pieces and even business reports.”

What's your job about?

Grant Thornton is a professional services firm that prides itself on providing meaningful advice and solutions to a variety of dynamic organisations. My role is as a graduate associate within the Private Business Tax & Advisory division which specialises in delivering taxation services and business advice to an array of clients ranging in size and scale from small family groups to large multi-national businesses.

The day-to-day tasks within the service line largely entail tax compliance engagements where we assist our clients with meeting their various tax obligations such as income tax returns as well as accounting functions such as preparing management accounts and financial statements. As part of these functions, we develop and maintain a close working relationship with our clients and gain an understanding of their business strategy and operations. My main responsibilities as a grad are to prepare less complex lodgements such as individual tax returns and activity statements. As I gain more experience, I am given the opportunity to assist with the more complex items such as tax returns for companies and trusts, tax advice pieces and even business reports. Regardless of the work being done, there are always new and changing issues to consider which creates a multitude of opportunities to learn.

What's your background?

I was born and raised in Melbourne and have lived there my entire life. I first found an interest in business through the family-owned and operated business and always wondered how various facets of a business interact with each other to keep the business running. Despite this, I never really thought about pursuing a career in this as I preferred to be in a profession that was more hands-on. During my late high school years, I was placed into the accounting subject by chance as the allocation for other subjects was already full. To my surprise, I quite enjoyed the subject and how it tied into business performance and the business world as a whole. Due to my re-ignited interest, I went on to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne and graduated at the end of 2020.

Whilst studying for my degree I applied for and completed the month-long vacation program at Grant Thornton within the Private Advisory division (as it was called at the time). During the program, I found the work stimulating and more importantly, enjoyed working with the team. Fortunately, I was offered a graduate position following completion of the program (which I gladly accepted) and started full-time after I graduated.

What's the best thing about your job?

Definitely the variety of work that comes up from time to time within the division. Although the main type of work performed day-to-day is in the form of recurring tax compliance engagements, there are numerous opportunities to be involved in a breadth of engagements outside of the standard tax work. Such special tasks range from financial modelling and forecasting to business reports using the Grant Thornton patented 6-Box model conversation. This exposure allows me to develop skills and awareness of issues that I never expected so early on in my career. In addition to this, the different types of work help break up the standard day-to-day tasks and make my role more interesting than it already is.

Honesty time – what are the main challenges for you?

As with most roles in professional services, there is a busy season or two and my role is not immune to this. Due to the higher than usual volume of work to be completed and limited time to do so, there is a longer time commitment required to ensure that deadlines are met and clients are satisfied. I found this time pretty challenging as I was relatively inexperienced and still learning on the job. Despite this, I was able to manage as a direct consequence of the strong support network within the division.

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

  1. Be your own person – You will see the journey and achievements of others and want to compare yourself to them. Try to ignore that and take stock in your achievements and focus on your path.
  2. Give yourself time – there no rush to go from school into uni and into full-time work. Take time for yourself and do the things you want to do because you will never have that much free time again.
  3. Don’t be afraid to be wrong – no one is expected to know everything and be right all the time and you are not an exception. Feel free to make all the mistakes you want because that is the only way you will learn and grow.