This fall Weaver had two of our own and two visiting staff members participate in the Weaver Secondment Program. See what Charles Hughes of Weaver had to say about his experience at Pitcher Partners and Australia.
Name: Charles Hughes
Position: Manager (Weaver) / Senior Analyst (Pitcher Partners)
Dates: July – October 2016
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Host Firm: Pitcher Partners
What were the objectives of the secondment?
I had never lived abroad and I wanted to experience all aspects of life immersed in a different country and culture. I also wanted to see how an accounting practice in a different country is operated.
Briefly detail your secondment experience.
There was a total of 15 secondees at Pitcher Partners, of which 14 were assigned to BA&A, which is their audit practice. We spent the first few days getting acquainted with each other, settling into our apartments and went through the orientation process. On the second week, we began working on our assigned clients. The audit work was relatively similar to what I was accustomed to, so adapting to the new work environment was not terribly difficult. It was interesting to work in different offices and interact with Aussie accountants; sometimes it was like we were speaking different languages. Picking up the accounting lingo was a must, as was getting your dates straight (days/months/years vs. months/days/years).
Weekends were awesome because we had the time to explore the city and travel. Melbourne is a very diverse and sophisticated city with somewhat of an old European feel. There are many hidden spots to grab a drink or a meal that made staying in the city an adventure.
What have you learned as a result of the secondment experience?
The big issues that we are facing as a profession are global. The impact of technological advances such as AI, changing client needs, and attrition of experienced personnel are problems that we all share. Also, accountants everywhere work very hard.
What was something that surprised you about the local culture?
How loyal everyone is to their Australian Football League team! Once you pick or inherit a team, that is the team you root for…forever. The most die-hard sports fans in the United States have nothing on the Aussies in this area. It was actually very refreshing!
What was a challenge you had to overcome while being in Australia?
I would say disconnecting from my United States GAAP point of view and accepting how the majority of the world does accounting was the biggest challenge. While the accounting that I am accustomed to is very similar to the Australian accounting rules, there are also some very big differences.
Did you pick up a local phrase or habit while there?
“How you going?” Everyone says it including the barista at the coffee shop, clients and coworkers. It took me several months to get used to and now I catch myself saying it.
Name a favorite experience from the trip.
On my last full day in Australia, I had the opportunity to tour the Opera House in Sydney. It was an amazing synergy of architecture, engineering and art. A very close second would be snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef.