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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Q&A with a Secondee: Meet Vanita Kataria

Vanita Kataria is a Risk Advisory Services Senior Associate in McLean, VA. She had the opportunity to participate in a secondment and shared her experience with us. Read her story!

Q: What was your background prior to RSM, and what initially attracted you to the Risk Advisory Services (RAS) practice and how long have you been here?

A: I have been lucky to do a lot of different things. I started my career out of college with Watkins Meegan (now CohnReznick) and worked across many lines of business. Then, I worked in external audit with KPMG and realized while I was there that I wanted smaller clients. I wanted to serve clients who were looking for process improvements, and looking for a business partner more than an auditor. When RSM, then RSM McGladrey, came along, it seemed to be the perfect fit! I’ve been here since January 2012.

Q: What were your motivators to go apply for a secondment, and how did you decide with Australia? What were you emotions through the process and thoughts?

A: I was raised in India and went to college in the US. My life in the USA started as a study abroad experience, and I had never worked in any other country. In November of 2014, there was an office wide announcement for a secondment opportunity in London. I remember being in a hotel room in New Jersey wondering what it would be like to work in a different country, different economy, and moreover in a dream city! That opportunity was retracted, and I moved on. The Operations Manager for our National Consulting practice mentioned that she would be in touch should anything else come along and I heard from her in March of 2015 regarding Melbourne, Australia! This was a longer commitment, and on the other side of the world, not just across the pond! But, my excitement to explore another economy, another world class city and its culture, made me say yes to the interview immediately.

Q: What is the Melbourne office like?

A: The Melbourne office reflects the culture of the beautiful land of Australia: it is a country of generally happy, relaxed, environmentally conscious people. They work hard and value the people in their personal and professional environments. During my stay, everyone was very welcoming and helpful. I made some friendships that I know will last a long time!

The RAS practice with in RSM Australia is located in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra with over 50 employees. One of the partners moved from Melbourne to Sydney while I was on the secondment, to grow the practice there.

Q: How was the Australian economy different than the US?

A: As a developed, English speaking country, it was considerably easy to adjust to the environment. What took some time, however, was to understand how to be mindful of everything around me. As a smaller economy, about 24 million people as compared to 300 million in the United States, it functions a bit differently; It is not behind in any way, but people value their resources more.

Q: What were you exposed to in Australia that helped to broaden your skill set? How were the clients different? How was the work different? How did this exposure this help you professionally?

A: I mostly performed audits for state government and agencies, an industry that I had not been exposed to in the US yet.  Insights into how the legislative and regulatory bodies operate in a different developed country brought new perspectives and a deeper understanding.  I have since been able to apply that experience at one of our local county government internal audit engagements. I was also grateful for opportunities to be part of proposal presentations with some of the Partners in the Melbourne office. I watched them bring in conversation their vast experiences and skills while preparing and practicing for the presentations. I now better understand how RSM competencies are communicated to stakeholders.

Q: In your free time, what did you get to experience? (Ex: Did you travel anywhere or see any sights? Different Food? Did this help with any hobbies? Etc.)

A: In the beginning of the secondment, it was winter in Australia. So, I stayed local and explored almost every nook and cranny of the beautiful coffee capital of the world, Melbourne. The architecture, national parks, street graffiti, world renowned restaurants, beautiful skyline, all provided great content for my favorite hobby, photography. Some of the pictures can be seen here. I was able to travel to most of the cities and parks on the east coast as well as the Great Barrier Reef and New Zealand! I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to explore so wide if it wasn’t for this secondment.

Q: What would you say the overall experience made you feel about the firm and your career with RSM?

A: Overall, this experience has made me feel a part of this vast firm like never before. I connect to it across the borders, across cultures, and have witnessed others within the firm live up to our core values. It assimilated me in the firm in such a way that now it’s not just about my current projects at hand or my own career, but a balanced relationship of how I can add value to the firm and how it is helping me grow. I am motivated to always look for opportunities for the firm, for my coworkers, for current college students who reflect the RSM culture. It’s not just about Mondays to Fridays, or just completing engagements or assignments anymore. It’s a happy constant in my life.

Group of secondees at a local cricket event

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