During this time, I have met so many people at KPMG that came from all over the world, it was great to learn from not only the Australian culture, but from various cultures around the Globe. I have created relationships with great people in Switzerland, France, Chile, Czech Republic and USA.
Living in a city for a limited period time motivates you to always make the most of each day and to see as much as possible. Every weekend consisted of a new adventure, whether it’s going to get groceries and finding new bizarre products (such as the famous Vegemite) or driving 2 hours outside of the city to visit a National Park, the experiences are diverse and abundant.
The opportunity to travel is a great advantage of living abroad, and my four weeks of vacation annually were well organized and seemed to fly by so quickly. I could spend several pages to discuss my wonderful Australian adventures; however I will keep it simple and take you through a snap shot of my journey and impressions of each Australian state or Territory:
- Tasmania: wonderful national parks, magnificent mountains, lakes, forest, hiking and camping.
- Western Australia: remote, contrasting landscapes such as deserts, termite mounds, vineyards and transparent blue beaches
- Northern Territory: aborigines, waterfalls, salt-water crocodiles, Uluru, Kings Canyon
- Queensland: Great Barrier Reef, 4WD on Fraser Island (a huge sand island), surfing
- New South Wales: Sydney harbour, Blue Mountains National Park, the quiet little town of Byron Bay
- Victoria: great restaurants, Wilson’s Prom National park, Great Ocean Road and Queen Victoria market
- South Australia: great wine regions, Flinders Ranges National park, Kangaroo Island
Overall, my two years living in Australia has been such a great experience and I am so happy to be back.
Everyone that goes on a secondment will always compare everything with back home, whether it relates to work, restaurants, transportation, renting an apartment, etc. Usually the comparisons last for about three months and then you settle in your new home and environment. I have now been in Sydney for over six months in the Transaction Services group and here are the main differences that I initially experienced with respect to work.
One of the main differences I found working here is the size of the group in the Sydney office. There are 60 people here in the TS group compared to 8 in my home office and the larger group provides me with opportunities to work with different people in various backgrounds. Several co-workers in my group are also on secondment, the majority from England, which provides me with common ground and experiences about the Australian culture and practice.
Another aspect of working in Sydney is that team sizes on engagements are larger, mostly due to the larger transaction size. This helped me learn the importance of project management skills of managing larger groups and how to integrate everyone’s work to deliver one cohesive report.
Finally, my secondment thus far has provided me with exposure to different work streams that I had not previously experienced. The TS service range is wider, offering for example vendor due diligence and capital markets transactions that are not typically offered in Canada.
Overall, every office is different (even within the same country), but working on assignment in another country provides access to a different culture, people and services that help with my personal and professional development and progress at KPMG.