My secondment experience
The working culture in Brisbane is less hectic and more relaxed than it is in Singapore, which I believe is an open secret. Nonetheless, from time to time we were still required to work overtime into late nights during the peak period, but most would choose to work from home after office hours. There are also month end drinks and end of quarter events organized by the firm as welfare to the employees to help them destress over work.
The people in Brisbane generally lead a healthy lifestyle, about three quarters of the people whom I interacted with go to gym on a regular basis. There are jogging/cycling tracks around the city and bicycle rental is available for only A$2/day! Shopping malls and supermarkets close early on weekday except for Thursday which is a designated shopping day in Brisbane. Food are generally more expensive than that in Singapore so we chose to cook our meals whenever possible. The good news is, we were provided with a fully furnished kitchen!
Overall, I must say the experience couldn’t be better even with (and because of) the two difficulties that I faced.
Firstly, Australian English. Many times I would be staring at the person whom I was conversing with and focusing so hard to decipher the content of the conversation that we were having. If I was lucky enough, I would make the correct guess and response appropriately. If not, my response would follow by a brief pause and an eruption of laughter. But that was the fun part, wasn’t it? They were always kind enough to repeat slowly what I misunderstood and made sure I was included in the conversation. And we would share the different slangs that was used daily. For examples, they would call slippers “thongs” and uses the word “cheers” instead of “thanks”.
Secondly, CaseWare. This secondment provided a perfect opportunity for us to actually have hands on practice on CaseWare, an audit software that PKF Singapore is implementing in the near future. We were such newbies when it comes to CaseWare and many times we would take more time than necessary on a document. But our colleagues in PKF Hackett were always so willing to guide us and show us little “tricks” that enable us to work more efficiently on CaseWare. Although there are still a lot to learn on CaseWare, but I can safely said that I came back a lot more knowledgeable than when I left Singapore.
Works aside, I do cherish the friendship forged during the secondment. I was lucky enough to be assigned a buddy from PKF Hackett office, Jenny. I spent most of my secondment working with her and couldn’t be happier about it. She’s such a friendly and helpful person. We would spend some weekend together sightseeing, BBQ or just for simple dinner.
Secondment is only temporary but the experience, knowledge and friendship gained are permanent. So, if you are given a chance, go for it!