On Thursday morning Nikita Mittal and I were nominated as representatives of the Curtin Wall Street Club to attend the Chartered Accountants ‘Mystery Terrace Walkabout’ event and what an amazing experience it was.
We met in the morning at the CA offices in the CBD for a quick introduction and breakfast networking. This was followed by presentations from the CA and a small business owner, Tony Connolly, who runs a Financial Consulting firm.
Tim Thurbin from CA spoke about how students need to be aware of career opportunities and to seek vacation work among employers to gain valuable experience and increase employability. Vacation work also increases students chances of being offered graduate positions within the firms, and some firms only offer such positions if you have completed their vacation work programs.
Tim also spoke about the opportunity to become a CA Student Representative and by getting involved with the CA you are exposed to a plethora of networking opportunities and get to meet with successful business people, which could possibly lead to employment opportunities. Employers often look favourably among the involvement of students with student societies and representative positions. This shows that you are interested and involved with the industry and that you have a passion for what you do.
Our first presentation was from Tony Connolly from Connolly and Associates. Tony talked about how students often have their eyes focused on getting positions within the Big 4 and overlook the opportunities that Small and Mid-tier firms provide. Mr Connolly also passed on some of his own experiences, he emphasised the point that a student’s attitude can make a world of difference. Mr Connolly also contrasted the different experience you get from a Big 4 firm, with that of a Mid-Tier firm and a small business. Within the Big 4 you have a very specialized role, such as ‘Corporate Finance’ or ‘Insolvency Law’. But within the Mid-Tier firms you are exposed to a wider audience and develop your skill base to be an all round business person.
We then headed over to the current Woodside building, where we were given a guided tour of the building and facilities. Key highlights were the Woodside Robotics Lab, the new building plans and goals, and finally the immersive VR headsets.
The Woodside robotics lab has a robot, which is one of five in the world, and is in a humanoid form. This highly advanced robot, built by NASA and GM is almost completely dextrous and had working arms, hands and fingers. The robot can grab objects and use them, just as a person can. They have chosen to develop these robots with dextrous hands so that there is no need for special development of tools for the robots to use, this saving weight when the supply rockets are launched into space, to the ISS.
We had the privilege of viewing the plans to the new Woodside building. It was great to see Woodsides initiatives to respect the Aboriginal culture and include it within their building. Woodside has named particular sections with the help of Aboriginal elders and involving the Aboriginal culture and community in the development of the building.
The new building has an innovative workspace where by employees are not assigned desks. They have implemented a clean desk policy, and with the integration of rapidly advancing technology they have devised a system where employees can operate completely off their laptops or tablets. This is the perfect setup for project work, as all the employees working on a particular project can move to desks close to each other and work more efficiently. Employees also have the option to go work outside on level 2 of the new building where there is a astroturf area and outside working spaces. Woodside is really adapting to modern changes and by implementing this new work style hopes to increase employee satisfaction with their work. If your employees are happy, they are inclined to perform better.
Finally at Woodside we had the experience of using a Virtual Reality headset to experience what it’s like walking around an Offshore Oil Rig. This was a truly amazing experience, and felt very real. We had to sit down on office chairs, otherwise our brain subconsciously makes us walk, even if we are aware that its VR.
After our time at Woodside we headed to Pitcher Partners, a mid-tier firm. While there we had two activities, one a presentation, and the other a question panel. The presentation was a great insight into four different divisions: Corporate Finance, Business Advisory, Insolvency and Taxation. An especially interesting one was the Insolvency division and all the different aspects of Insolvency law and how a firm like Pitcher Partners engages with their clients on a daily basis.
Sandra also gave us some priceless information on how to apply for vacation and graduate programs. Sandra explained her recruitment process and that a good cover letter is imperative to your applications. Spelling and grammar must be perfect, along with a tailored letter for each company. The recruiters are not looking simply for the best marks, although marks are important, culture is a critical factor in your application. You need to fit in with the company's culture to ensure that when working with other employees you have similar values, this fostering a family-like environment within the workspace.
Our last stop was at PWC, where we were given a presentation on the values of the company, their mission statement and how they operate day to day. Our time at PWC, after our yummy lunch, was spent networking with other attendees and recent graduates who were in the early stages of their positions. This opportunity was fantastic and gave attendees invaluable information, that you cannot read online. It also gives us a snapshot of our futures, and how companies, like PWC are investing in the next generation to ensure our future is bright.
I would like to say a massive thank you to both Tim and Caroline from the Chartered Accountants Association for hosting this event and making it possible. It truly provided all the attendees with such great career advice and insights into the Accounting and Finance industry.
I would also like to thank all of the company representatives and presenters we met throughout the day for passing on your experiences and insights of the industry and how we can further develop our own careers.
Written by - Sebastiano Rosati