A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of catching up with two of my former colleagues in downtown New York over dinner. We used to work together at KPMG Sydney five years ago. One of them came to New York to work as a management consultant, and the other went back to his home office in Dallas, Texas before relocating to New York on KPMG’s rotation program. I transferred to KPMG US in 2016, and relocated to KPMG New York recently.
Though we had so many interesting stories to share about the time we had missed in each other’s lives, we kept talking about how small this world is – finding ourselves living and working in the same city again, five years later and 16,000 kilometers away from Sydney.
Rotation or relocation to foreign countries, especially for audit professionals like myself, is common and has become easier because of the same accounting framework used, or the convergence effort of the different frameworks. For instance, the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is used by more than 120 countries including Australia and the European Union. Reciprocal recognition agreements between different professional licensing bodies allow easier transition to a foreign CPA or CA license. Accounting firms that are part of the global network usually have a global mobility program such as rotation or transfer to an overseas member firm, all of which help make the audit profession a boundary-less career.
Sydney is where I started my career, but not my life. I grew up in Korea. I came to Australia with my wife to study at the University of Sydney in 2010. There were challenges, especially in the early years, including a language barrier and cultural differences. However, these experiences helped me shape my own perspectives, and worked in my favour later in my career. I have become better at listening, observing, and communicating – skills which have proved critical in the client-facing audit profession, and more so in a setting where engagement teams and clients are from different backgrounds and culturally diverse.
Today, the people I have connected with throughout my career are spread across the globe, which makes me feel like this world is much smaller than it was before. The journey from Korea to Australia and then the United States opened a door to my boundary-less career. However, I had to find a key to that door with hard work and diligence. I believe the door will always be there to anyone who works hard, is open to change and willing to break their own boundaries to embrace the challenges.