I was seconded from the RSM South Africa offices to the RSM Australia Canberra office for a period of 3 months. It was a real eye opening experience. Here are some of the reasons why I applied for the secondment opportunity and why I think other trainees should apply as well.
The exposure to a foreign working environment allows for countless learning opportunities in terms of client relations, soft skills, audit efficiency, and the list goes on. Secondments benefit both of the member firms involved, as well as the secondees, because the secondees become the “bridge” to transfer skills and ideas from one firm to the other and then back again.
Secondments gives you a great opportunity to network – not just in terms of making professional contacts but creating and building long standing friendships with local staff, other secondees as well as individuals outside of RSM. Through my secondment I’ve personally built long standing friendships with people from Australia, Canada, Oman, Philippines, and Singapore. Thanks to the advancement of technology, we still keep in contact through instant messaging as well as video calls.
Trial run for immigration
A number of South Africans consider immigrating to other countries after they qualify as Chartered Accountants as it is the perfect time to build a foundation for a comfortable lifestyle. Therefore secondments allow you to pilot the idea of immigration as you will have the opportunity to compare the following between South Africa and the foreign country:
- Opportunities for career and skill development
- Organisational and social cultures and norms
- The environment (weather, political risk, safety etc.)
- Opportunities for personal development
- Value-add and the influence of Chartered Accountants
- Compensation vs cost of living
GETTING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
It is true when they say that true growth lies outside your comfort zone. It is scary to leave your friends and family and head out to another country for a few months to live on your own. Secondments are a big step out of your comfort zone and give you a real opportunity for personal growth. It forces you to learn to be independent, meet new people and share new experiences.
Personally this factor played a significant role in my secondment opportunity. An example would be that previously I was not a confident swimmer, but this opportunity sparked the idea of improving my swimming skills by watching Youtube videos, practicing to swim in the pool in the evenings, then progressing to snorkelling and finally to scuba diving in the magnificent “Great Barrier Reef”. My obsession for scuba diving didn’t end in Australia and it’s further encouraged me to take an open water diving course in South Africa and plan future diving holidays.
OPPORTUNITY TO TRAVEL
A number of secondees take time off after their secondment to travel the foreign country. It’s a great opportunity because your flights and VISA’s are paid for, so why not make the best out of the experience while you’re there.
Travel broadens one’s level of thinking and creates memories for a lifetime. It’s the best way to end your secondment and return to your local firm rejuvenated with a higher level of thinking.
I personally got to do the following activities:
- Spend a weekend hiking at the Blue Mountains
- Spend a weekend touring Sydney
- Skiing in the snowy mountains
- Snorkelling on two islands in Cairns
- Kayaking in Fitzroy island, and
- Scuba diving and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef
I’d like to thank RSM for this opportunity. It has played a significant role in my growth as an individual as well as a professional, and definitely contributed to my development as a well-rounded Chartered Accountant.
Audit Supervisor, Johannesburg