Where did you grow up?
My cultural background is Cambodian Chinese but I was born and raised here in Australia. I grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs, went to high school at Sefton High and then onto uni at the University of New South Wales. I actually wanted to be an artist when I was younger and I still paint a bit in my spare time!
How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?
I joined Deloitte as a graduate two years ago. More specifically I joined the Risk & Controls team within Risk Advisory and I’m currently working in the Western Sydney office. I’ve been with the team for two years and have worked my way up from being a graduate to my current position as an experienced analyst.
How did you choose your specialisation?
To be completely honest with you, nope. I knew exactly what I wanted and it was to work on internal audit projects and to specialise in Risk & Controls.
I became interested in risk after I did a placement at IBM within the Systems and Technology Team within their finance team. During my time there, our business unit was requested to provide some documentation for what they called a ‘business controls review’, which was like a ‘mini’ internal audit. I’ve actually been on the side where I’ve been audited and I wanted to experience the other side (where I get to do the audit) so when Deloitte opened applications and I saw they had a Risk & Controls team, I went for it!
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
I applied for Deloitte’s graduate program, so the process involved a number of interviews and an assessment centre as well. The first interview is over the phone and really, it’s for the recruiter to get a feel for who you are and why you’re interested in joining that specific team at Deloitte.
Then there’s the assessment centre – which I found to be surprisingly fun! The questions and group challenge were interesting and it gave me the chance to meet my potential cohort. In fact, two of the candidates I met that day ended up becoming grads with me.
Then there’s the partner interview which is the last stage of the process. The partner made the interview feel really relaxed. From what I can remember, I was asked a lot of behavioural-based questions and questions about my motivations.
Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study? Are there any soft skills it would beneficial for them to develop? Should they pursue any sort of work experience?
I don’t think there’s one conventional degree or route to pursuing a career in risk to be honest. I mean, look at me? I studied engineering (and accounting). You really can get here with any type of degree. To give you an idea, my current team includes people with backgrounds in business/economics, engineering, medical science and even law.
If I had to say one particular degree, I guess it could be a business one, but anything that develops your attention to detail, critical thinking, analytical skills and encourages you to be methodical will put you in a good position to work in risk.
In terms of soft skills, you absolutely need a high level of attention to detail. You also need to be able to listen to your clients and communicate with them. A large part of my job is to conduct interviews and walkthroughs with my clients to understand how their business works. Being curious by nature helps too because you need to ask the right questions.
Any work experience in a corporate environment is good, particularly if you get exposure to and hands-on experience working with clients.
What does your employer do?
Deloitte’s a professional services firm, so we pretty much do everything! I sit within risk advisory, so broadly speaking my department as a whole helps clients manage, mitigate and respond to risk. We’ve got a number of different speciality teams ranging from risk analytics and project risk through to sustainability, forensics, and cyber security.
I work in Risk & Controls, and while it might not sound ‘sexy’, it’s actually really fascinating work. We look more specifically at the business’s controls (so what processes/activities they have in place to reduce their level of risk) and find ways to improve these controls. We also perform gap analyses to identify control gaps.
We’ll do this a few different ways. Sometimes our clients ask us to do a risk assessment where we’ll look at the entire business at a strategic or operational level and create a risk register for them.
Other times we’ll do an end-to-end internal audit and review their business processes. And this can be any part of the business. Lots of people think my work only covers financial processes. The first client engagement I actually worked on as a grad was a property maintenance and management internal audit. Our team also does work on fraud and corruption frameworks, quality assurance frameworks, etc.
What are your areas of responsibility?
When I get put on a client engagement, usually the first thing we’ll do is have a kick-off meeting so we can understand the high level business process including concerns the client may have. Because I’ve moved from being a graduate to an experienced analyst, I’ve moved from shadowing to running these meetings myself.
We’ll then meet with all the key contacts to understand the process in depth. This is known as ‘fieldwork’ (which we sometimes conduct on the client site) where the team and I perform walkthroughs with the client, request information, conduct testing to check whether the control is operating effectively. And yes, this is all documented.
Then we’ll analyse the information, identify exceptions and report our findings and recommendations back to the client in an exit meeting. I pretty much work across the whole engagement!
As an experienced analyst, part of my role also includes managing and mentoring more junior team members and moving from doing the fieldwork, to delegating, reviewing work and at times, monitoring the budget.
Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on?
I know everyone says this but there’s no ‘typical day’ because it really depends on what engagement I’m working on and which clients I’m working with. However, it generally comprises meetings with clients (which could be at the client’s office or via Skype), several follow-up emails and calls to the client to request further information, and doing the fieldwork.
Some days, it will be a full day dedicated to writing up the draft findings and recommendations for the report. Other times, I might be travelling for the entire week visiting several client offices/sites to conduct fieldwork. There are also travel opportunities as some of our clients have offices located in regional parts of NSW.
What sort of person succeeds in your career?
For a graduate, a willingness to learn, good attention to detail and being a good communicator will help you out greatly. You’ll also be more likely to succeed if you’re not afraid to speak up about what your career goals are, what you’re passionate about and what accounts you want to work on.
What are the career prospects with your job? / Where could you or others in your position go from here?
You can go anywhere really. That’s the wonderful thing about Risk, it exposes you to so much. You really get to learn how a business operates from the ground up or become an expert on some key business processes all organisations have in common (eg. procurement, payroll). And not just any one business, but various types, across different industries and sectors.
Risk is a very big field, so it means you can go anywhere.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Absolutely. In fact, my team’s got all sorts of degrees and backgrounds from law and engineering through to medical science. Our partner actually has a Commerce/Arts degree. It’s really important to have different perspectives of thinking so any degree or background is welcome!
What do you love the most about your job?
The best part is when you receive feedback from a client telling you that your work really helped them and made an impact on their organisation. If a business knows how to manage their risk properly, they’re better positioned to take on more opportunities (and risk)! So it’s rewarding to see that happen.
I also love that I get to go out and meet new clients and work with them directly. You’re not just stuck behind a desk all day. You get to meet interesting people, learn about their businesses and work on unique problems.
And the other thing I love about my job is my team!
What’s the biggest limitation of your job?
I think how stressed you get and how manageable your workload is comes down to you as an individual. In my team, you could be working on two or three engagements at the same time, so it’s really important to speak up if you’re feeling overwhelmed and if you feel like you’ve got too much on your plate.
My team is great like that. They’re really supportive. All you need to do is let people know that you’re under the pump and they’ll find a way to lessen your workload.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
Considering my training and the degree I have, I’d most likely be a civil engineer.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?