How does one go about leaving a safe harbour to start over with new colleagues in a different work culture? Last year, Sarah and Lucas started as accountants in Audit & Assurance at Deloitte. Today, they share their reflections on the transition from working in a smaller accounting firm to becoming a part of one of the biggest professional services firms globally.
Before joining Deloitte, Sarah Kirkan Stryhn Svith and Lucas Just Nielsen sometimes wondered what it would be like to be part of the firm. They thought that being a Deloitte accountant would definitely give them a mark of quality and knowledge, but maybe they would also feel a bit like a small piece in a big puzzle. Reflecting upon it today – almost a year after they decided to join – all their expectations have been exceeded. Although the transition has indeed been challenging at times, they are certain that they made the right decision.
Lucas previously worked in a medium-sized accounting firm with around 250 employees. At that time, Lucas’ friend, who was employed at Deloitte, tried to convince him to join the firm:
“At first, I was not tempted, but when another Deloitte employee reached out to me, I reconsidered my stance on exploring new opportunities. I had gained my share of knowledge and experience in the smaller accounting firm, and I could feel that it was time for a change and the try something different.”
At Sarah’s previous job, she had just 20 colleagues, and it felt like one big family. Sarah’s story is a bit similar to Lucas with the common denominator being an eager friend who urged her to consider coming in for an interview at Deloitte.
“I had always kept an eye on Deloitte and knew it was a matter of time before I would try my luck with the big company. I was lucky – and to be honest a bit surprised – that Deloitte offered me a part-time position so I could finish my master’s degree in accounting and take care of my two sons,” Sarah says.
Trying to break down the stereotype
Both Lucas and Sarah want to break the stereotypical view of being an accountant: It does not only involve Excel sheets and long workdays. Although the job can be demanding at times, getting to help the clients is what makes their work meaningful and where they feel like they are making a difference.
Sarah emphasises the importance of getting to know her clients well to make an impactful contribution to their businesses. Therefore, she prioritises spending time specialising in health care, as it is unlike areas in which she has previously worked. For her, it is all about playing on the strengths of both the client and advisor in order to achieve the best possible result.
“The clients can do what they are good at, and we can do what we are good at. Ultimately, together we can make their business better.”
Lucas points out that as an accountant, no days look the same. Furthermore, he underlines that a day in the life of an accountant is not only filled with number-crunching, tax and being glued to your desk. For him, client interaction is what makes his job rewarding.
”I get to interact with so many interesting clients. I enjoy meeting company owners, helping them with their economy and optimising their businesses. Accounting is much more than just numbers.”
A small piece in a big puzzle?
The transition from a smaller accounting firm to Deloitte has been quite a journey. To Lucas, Deloitte has kept its promise to develop talents, and he feels his work is seen and valued by colleagues and leaders. Contrary to his previous beliefs, he does not feel like a small piece in a big puzzle and sees the direct impact he makes when working with clients. Furthermore, Lucas acknowledges Deloitte’s efforts to meet the wishes of their employees:
“I had a burning desire to facilitate some of the internal courses in Deloitte, and I was given the opportunity right off the bat.”
Sarah likewise worried about getting lost in the crowd, but she states that the insecurity quickly subsided. When attending courses where she does not know anyone, she stresses the importance of having an open mind and a positive attitude towards meeting new people.
“The firm is filled with opportunities and colleagues willing to offer a helping hand – you just have to reach out. Deloitte also offers lots of social events and if anything, you can choose what you would like to attend,” Sarah says.
Sarah also shares the experience of no longer having her own office as she did in the smaller consulting firm. She now values her current shared office space after some time of adjustment.
Pushing boundaries in Deloitte
Lucas knew that socialising with tons of people would perhaps be quite challenging at first.
“I have always been a bit shy by nature. Every personality test always showed the same thing: I am an introvert. But I push myself in Deloitte, for instance by facilitating a course in front of 25 new colleagues at one of Deloitte’s onboarding courses. This is a chance I would not have gotten in a smaller accounting firm,” Lucas says.
He also highlights the steep learning curve at Deloitte, where getting from point A to B happens quickly. He sees a clear development from when he started to where he is now.
Sarah has always been motivated to push her boundaries to become even better at what she does, and she feels she always has more learning to do. She is not afraid to ask the questions:
“When I am in a meeting or a course, and there is something I do not understand, I will ask: ‘I am not sure I understand – can you please explain?’. It is all about putting in the effort to grow.”
On a personal level, she has learned a great deal about how she would like to be perceived and the different dimensions of being an employee. She also expresses her pride in working at Deloitte and along with Lucas shares her excitement about going to work each day and from time-to-time work from home when it fits in.
Almost a year in Deloitte has passed for both and they are no longer ‘the new kids on the block’. They express their gratitude for working in a place that contributes to their development – both professionally and personally. They are both excited to see how their journey in auditing unfolds whilst working at Deloitte.