Blog Archive

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

McGladrey Secondee Broadens His Horizons in Australia

Written by Andrew Godfrey
Sr. Associate
Vienna, VA
A few weeks ago it dawned on me that our time was running short in Sydney, so we really got in gear in terms of seeing the sites and trying to experience everything there was to experience in Australia.
Four weekends ago, I had Elisa & Holly from the Perth office come visit for the weekend. We tried to pack all of Sydney into one weekend. We started by taking a ferry to Manly (an island off the coast of Sydney), we went out for a nice dinner in the Harbour and then we saw all of the tourist sites in the city on the Sunday.
The following weekend I went to the Featherdale Wildlife Park where I was able to pet the koalas and kangaroos. The zoos are awesome in Australia because they let you touch most of the animals except for the dangerous ones and even then you are able to get within inches of them. 
Two weekends ago we went to a National Rugby League (NRL) game and to the Blue Mountains. NRL is the closest sport to American football in Australia. I don’t quite understand everything that’s going on during the game, but I still cheer like I do!
This past weekend we threw a party at our house and watched the Rugby World Cup. The game was Australia v. USA and we (USA) lost 67-5. On Saturday, I visited one of my friends in Penrith and cheered on his baseball team. Watching Australians play baseball is fun because most of them swing the bat like they’re playing cricket. The rules are the same in the US, but it’s obvious that they didn’t grow up playing the sport. 
It’s sad making a bunch of close friends here and then leaving in a few weeks, but I’ve already made plans to see several people in the office in the near future. I have one co-worker coming to visit me in the US in November and another in December. And others are hoping to come on secondment in the next few years; so I will definitely maintain most of my friendships made in Australia.
What clients have you worked on and what have you learned?
I’ve had three main clients (industries) in Australia: mining, finance, and manufacturing. Mining is a large industry in Australia; however, my client was performing exploration in Papua New Guinea and Cambodia. When a mining company is in the exploration phase of the audit, there is no revenue recognized, instead the Company receives money from investors for exploration costs which are all capitalized until the minerals have been discovered and the mining begins. I found this industry interesting because it was interesting to see the costs incurred in order to gain permits to explore on people’s lands. In order to gain these permits the project managers would buy the landowners head dresses, flowers, and pigs.
My manufacturing client manufactures ‘port-a- potties’.  This client was interesting because it was way out in the bush. It was approximately a 3 hour commute from Sydney so I stayed in a roadside motel out in the country. This was a good experience because as the locals in Wyoming, Australia said, I was able to see “the real Australia.”
Finally, I’ve had two clients in the financial services industry. Both of these clients manage financial portfolios for mostly extraordinarily wealthy individuals in Australia. From a financial audit standpoint, these clients are extremely easy to audit. However, the more complex area was measuring if compliance with their ASFL license; which is a principle-based certification which certifies that the financial service provider is acting both competently and ethically on behalf of the parties its serving.
How does the office culture differ from the office culture in Vienna?
The culture in the Sydney office is very different from the office culture in the Vienna, Virginia office. I feel that the Sydney office has a much more rigid structure between partners, managers, and staff.  In Virginia managers will often help with managing the client and with some of the more complex areas of the audit. In Sydney, the managers will not look at a file until it has been signed off by the “in charge” and the partners will not look at the file until it has been fully reviewed by the manager.  It’s also very rare for a manager or a partner to visit the client in Sydney, but it seems that the partners and managers in Vienna try to come out to the client at least once during every audit.  The work life balance in the Sydney office seems to be a little more intact than in the US. It’s very rare for anyone to come into the office to work during the busy season, and almost everyone is back in the office at 5pm every Friday for Friday night drinks.
What do you have planned for the remainder of your secondment?
We have three weeks left of work on our secondment; two weeks of client work and the final week to wrap up. This upcoming weekend I’m going down to Melbourne to go to an AFL Grand Final party.  The following weekend we’re having a farewell dinner, and in the final week of my secondment my parents are coming to visit. Once my secondment is over, my family and I are going to Ayer’s Rock, and then to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef. The following week I’m touring New Zealand and then I’m off to Thailand and Hong Kong before returning to the US in mid-November.

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