Trainees from RSM are often given the opportunity of going on secondment to number of countries around the world. Since I started working at RSM we have had employees travel to various cities in the USA, the UK and Australia. We have also been lucky enough to receive secondees from other RSM offices around the world, allowing us to network and learn from one another.
Secondment is a unique experience whereby you are given the opportunity to work overseas on a temporary basis before returning to your current job here in South Africa. The majority of secondees will work abroad for 3 to 6 months, however there are secondments which can last as long as 24 months.
My experience began on 1 January 2018. I flew out from Durban to Dubai, before catching a connecting flight to Chicago, USA. It took approximately 28 hours to get to Chicago and I was exhausted by the time I got there. The 15 metre walk from the airport’s sliding doors to my taxi made me realise I was not prepared for a Chicago winter. I wasn’t wearing any gloves (that changed very quickly) and my jacket didn’t seem to have any affect against the freezing cold. It was minus 18 degrees Celsius and it felt as though the air was burning my lungs. I was suddenly very grateful for the fact that I would be based in Dallas for my secondment and not Chicago.
There were 26 secondees and our first three days were spent receiving training as a group. It was the first time that all of the US inbound secondees had been given training together and it was a great experience for us. It allowed us to meet one another as well as form a basic understanding of the US audit methodology and what would be expected of us. It also gave us the opportunity to visit Chicago, something I could not have done were it not for the training week.
After the training, we all flew out to our allocated offices around the country, mine being Dallas in Texas. Seven of us had been seconded to the Dallas office, an indication of the amount of work required to be completed at the office. There were two of us from South Africa, two people from Australia and three people from the UK.
While most people had a day or two to get orientated in the office, I was sent straight out to the client on my first day, and thrown straight into the heart of it. It was mandatory for all staff to work a minimum of 55 hours per week during the business season (January to April), with emphasis being placed on the word minimum as many of the weeks we worked far more than this. Before I had applied for secondment, I had been warned that the hours were very long, however I still found that I wasn’t prepared for it. I take my hat off to the RSM US employees who work through it every year.
The long working hours gave me the opportunity to learn a lot in a short space of time. I came away from secondment feeling as though I had accomplished six months of work in just three and a half months. Add to this the fact that I was working with a new bunch of people, who were exposing me to new ideas and methodologies as well as teaching me new techniques and skills, and I felt like it was a winning formula for personal development.
I took part in five different audit engagements during my time in Dallas. It was a fascinating experience learning about the five different companies and the different products and services they provided. They were completely different to my usual clients back home and a good breath of fresh air.
Other than the incredible work experience I received, I was also given the opportunity to do lots of traveling and meet some fantastic people.
Our Dallas group of secondees definitely made the most of our free time. We managed to watch multiple basketball games, ice hockey matches, baseball games and a rodeo. We also went to a famous theme park, raced a Ferrari around a track, played baseball, organised a weekend away in Austin, went to a shooting range, rode a mechanical bull, sampled many restaurants, bars and clubs in Dallas and the list goes on. We really had a lot of fun and made some incredible memories.
I was also lucky enough to travel to Las Vegas and Los Angeles on two of my weekends and saw the incredible Grand Canyon. After secondment ended, I planned a two week holiday with my fiancé to New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia. Another truly memorable experience and one we will never forget.
Because of secondment, I was able to see and experience all those cities as well as learn a lot about my career and myself. I also grew a huge appreciation for everything my home country and city have to offer, something I never would have been able to do otherwise. I would therefore highly recommend secondment to anyone who is given the chance to go. You will learn an enormous amount from it and your career will benefit as a result of it. You will also create lasting memories and friendships with people from around the globe. Secondment is a fantastic programme and I am extremely grateful to RSM for giving me the opportunity to experience it!
Audit Supervisor, Durban