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Many young Aussies and Kiwis yearn for overseas adventure during their career1. Meet five Chartered Accountants who took the plunge to live and work in these incredible global destinations.
1. Mexico City, Mexico
Working for the Macquarie Group, Simon Hanna CA enjoyed spells working in Sydney, London and Russia before transferring to Mexico City in 2013.
The Mexican capital offers jaw-dropping historic buildings, a burgeoning culinary scene, and the most museums of any city in the world2. Hanna has loved his time there. "An overseas posting like this is eye-opening. I've been exposed to different cultures and different ways of working, and had the opportunity to live like a local."
Back when he was at school, Hanna admits: "I had no master plan. My Dad told me accounting would give me a solid career and I followed his advice - but it's given me so much more than that. I've enjoyed so many great life experiences and professional opportunities."
2. Paris, France
Jane Russell CA had always wanted to be fluent in French so, in 2007, she made a bold decision. "I bought a plane ticket for Paris and rolled the dice! I found a job straight away in asset management and ten years later I'm still here."
Jane's job involves frequent travel to the UK and US - both of which she loves - but Paris is still hard to beat, she says. "As well as the amazing food and art, it is the lifestyle that I like. You really feel the weekends, when everything slows down, people relax with their families, and the shops are still closed on Sundays. It's really different to a lot of other cities which are continually racing 24/7."
The Chartered Accounting qualification is a good starting point for a global career, according to Jane: "I'll never forget a well-known portfolio manager telling me: 'Give me someone who can read a balance sheet any day!' Although I'm now working in relationship management and business development, my CA background serves me well constantly."
3. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Serjit Singh CA's career has taken him from working at the Inland Revenue in New Zealand, to working for Royal Dutch Shell in Borneo and now Kuala Lumpur. "At first I thought my career might be confined to consulting firms," he says. "But today I see so many possibilities in my role as a CA. I wake up every morning eager to see what the day will hold."
Kuala Lumpur is a city of contrasts - ultra-modern skyscrapers, colonial architecture, fine-dining eateries and buzzing street markets. "This part of the world is growing rapidly, so it's an exciting place to be right now," says Singh.
At Shell, Singh is the tax lead for Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan. "I'm fortunate to get involved in the full spectrum of businesses and activities," he says. "I've been exposed to almost every area of the oil and gas industry."
4. Nairobi, Kenya
After starting out in Sydney in working in public practice and corporates, Avani Shah CA applied for a role with the United Nations in Kenya. "I love meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures - and had always wanted to travel the world," she says.
Kenya is an extraordinary place, according to Shah. "I'm still in awe of the Kenyan beaches, the wildlife safaris and the mountains. Being able to share that with my children and my husband, who is also a CA, is wonderful."
Shah feels the CA designation helped give her the flexibility to enjoy an international career, because her overseas employers recognised and respected the qualification. "I think being a CA demonstrates that you have had a quality education, with support and guidance along the way."
5. Lahore, Pakistan
After starting his accounting career in New Zealand, John M Davis CA went on to work in exotic locales such as Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Currently working as CFO Nestlé Pakistan and Afghanistan, Davis is about to transfer to Sydney to be CFO Nestlé Oceania.
Reflecting on his CFO roles, Davis says: "It's important to get out of the office and meet the people in the business and for them to meet you. In my current job, I've tried every month to visit at least one of our factories or sales offices around Pakistan."
Davis has been based in Lahore in Pakistan, a city still infused with its Mughal and British Raj past, and famed for its fanatical cricket crowds at Qaddafi Stadium. "The people in Pakistan are wonderful," he says. "They are committed and passionate. I've enjoyed having the opportunity to contribute not just to the company but to make a positive contribution to the society too."
Article written by Paul M Southwick CA. Paul is a a Melbourne-based journalist, former ASX-listed company CFO, communications consultant, and pilot.
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