Written by Molly Cochran, Hillary Smith and Taylor Trent.
Secondment (NOUN): the detachment of a person from his or her regular organization for temporary assignment elsewhere.
This past summer, the three of us had the opportunity to participate in a secondment with two firms in Australia – one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. The opportunity came to Bennett Thrasher in April 2018 from Scott Hazy, an audit partner within our firm who is well connected to our global affiliates through the DFK and LEA networks. We submitted our applications and crossed our fingers we would be selected for interviews. A few weeks later, the three of us participated in a phone interview with both an audit Director and an HR manager with the Australian firms. We talked about our past audit experience, our passions outside of work and our overall interest in Australia. Fast forward to July 2018, we packed our bags, boarded the plane and set off on an adventure.
It took us no time at all to make Australia our home. In just a few short days, we were ordering flat whites, having vegemite for brekkie and learning our way around a new city. The first days of work came with the usual challenges of starting a new job: getting to know the clients, the systems and new methodology. While there are differences in the accounting methodology prescribed by AASB (Australian Accounting Standards Board) versus US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), it became clear that we were well prepared and well trained for all of our assigned tasks.
While working in Sydney, we (Hillary and Molly) worked on many different audit engagements. From historic preservation trusts to leather manufacturers and Council Shires, we applied the knowledge and experience learned at BT to our Australian work. Our background and training gave us the skills needed to independently research various accounting topics, manage our work to complete multiple tasks at once, and ask meaningful questions of our clients and colleagues. Additionally, in recent years, we have seen the movement of US accounting standards toward those in place abroad. As we have worked with our BT clients on these new standards, we had a great foundation to understand how these principles applied to our Australian clients.
While working in Melbourne, I (Taylor) was able to expand my horizons and learn the world of the retail industry. Coming from my background in the construction and real estate industries, I dove in on day one with an open mind and began my career in fashion. I was able to draw on past experiences as I handled audits of retail outlets throughout Australia, as well as Singapore and Hong Kong. Ultimately, the training and experience I have gained throughout my time at BT led to a seamless transition that allowed me to instantly feel a part of my Australian team.
Last but not least…
This experience provided us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be fully immersed in a new culture so far from home. Our work at BT provided us a solid foundation to be successful and competent in all of our assigned audit tasks. However, the most valuable thing we have learned at BT is the importance of building lasting relationships with our coworkers. Our culture has instilled in us that we are smarter, stronger, more efficient and greater as a team than as a single person. With that in mind, we successfully built friendships and relationships that we will remember forever. We are truly better together – not just in Atlanta, GA but all over the world.