Viktor Kapustin, Senior Manager, Tax and Legal Services Department
Victor, how did you end up at Deloitte? What drove you to make that choice?
The key motivating factors were my dissatisfaction with my job at the time and my desire to take my career to the next level.
I graduated from the Tax Police faculty of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation. I got a job at the tax police in line with my qualification, and worked as an operating officer until the authority was dissolved. I wanted to try my hand at a different place, and got a job as an assistant to the chairman of a large Russian publishing house. I worked there for a year before realising that I had no growth prospects. By then my wife had been working at Deloitte for more than a year. Thanks to her, I got a pretty clear understanding of what type of company Deloitte was.
My first day at Deloitte was 28 July 2004. Nine years have passed since then, and I have never regretted my choice. Why? The answer is pretty simple.
I have worked at other companies. I'd recommend that employees who join Deloitte and get dissatisfied with their jobs should try other employers, compare their experiences and then, if possible, come back and feel the difference. I worked at a private Russian company and a government institution for two years, so I am in a good position to state that Deloitte is an unmatched employer. The firm does not just declare its adherence to values; it sticks to them.
Some people believe that project work involves routine, recurring operations carried out for various clients.
What a huge misconception! Every project is unique. Each one is a professional challenge you have to face. It enables your continuous professional growth, makes you develop. You gradually build up the appropriate expertise and experience.
I can give you an example of one such project: the client was a large company in Zelenograd, forming part of a larger group. As a first-year consultant I was assigned to this engagement to perform a tax review. You might ask why such an important engagement was commissioned to a junior specialist. First of all, I had been working with the company for some months and had been involved in other projects. Secondly, the level of tasks we had to deal with during our first year of employment, and the level of responsibility and outside-the box thinking we had to demonstrate were quite high, as we had to work with chief accountants, financial controllers and finance service representatives of large companies. If you prove yourself, you can be delegated responsibilities that at first seem to be beyond your competence.
When you get involved, you discover that, in fact, the task is feasible and not off the scale in terms of its complexity. You are pushed to the limits, and have to apply every ounce of your intellect, experience and expertise, and even depart from traditional schemes.
The exceptional thing about Deloitte, what differentiates it from other firms, is that you never get complacent, you never stagnate in terms of your career.
Does this mean that Deloitte is not the right place for those who are looking for a steady job with a comfortable routine?
Absolutely not. I must admit that the job is challenging and even stressful at times, but it is interesting, and what is more important is that you reap the rewards of all of your efforts. The job requires a lot, but it is very rewarding. And this doesn't just mean a good salary and perks – you increase your value on the labour market, your personal brand. Your clients get to know you so well that you can easily contact the CFOs of major Russian manufacturers to discuss certain issues with them. However, you only achieve that through hard work. Each of us has to decide whether or not we are ready for that lifestyle, or would rather find an easy way.
I made my choice and have never regretted it during the nine years I have spent at Deloitte.
It is no secret that project work often involves working long hours. Do you have time for anything else except your job?
I have two lifelong projects: my kids. One of them is five, the other is two and a half. These are the major projects I’m running alongside my job.
With regard to working overtime, there is a myth that Deloitte and other Big Four firms exploit their employees, and when the employees get exhausted, they are gotten rid of, or resign, falling by the wayside.
This, like any other myth, is almost impossible to dispel. I personally totally disagree with this belief. It seems to me that it was created by those who have never worked at a large audit firm, or who made the wrong career choice – people who are not capable of working dynamically and intensively, and who tend to avoid responsibility. I think these are the people of “yesterday”. They are not looking in the same direction as Deloitte.
We do work extra hours at times, and sometimes it gets quite tough. However, your work schedule mostly depends on how you manage your time.
I am not a very organised person. I can't always concentrate. Nevertheless, I have known a great deal of colleagues at Deloitte who organised their working time so as to avoid working overtime, and demonstrated strong performance. The reason behind this is that they are extremely organised, goal-driven and disciplined people – I’m talking about people like Inna Micheeva, Sasha Krylov, and others, who are successful both at work and in their private lives. Their organisational skills are certainly enviable.
My message here is the following: if you like your job, I don't see why you can't stay longer at work. Due to Deloitte's electronic systems, we can focus entirely on a project.
There is an atmosphere here that allows you to concentrate on your job, plan your time individually. I doubt that any other company can boast such a number of various solutions aimed at creating the same comfortable working background.
Have you ever thought about changing your career?
Not recently, especially with the experience I have now. Although I’d probably make a good photographer (smiling).
That was unexpected. Why photography?
I can talk about this for hours… it’s an inherited interest. Photography has been a big deal in my family for generations. I even have a family collection of cameras, which I treasure. All of them are in working condition, and I even use some of them. The oldest camera I have, which I used a couple of weeks ago, is a Zeiss Ikon Nettar, a pre-war German camera, made in Stuttgart in 1934, that uses medium-format film. Even though it is almost 80 years old, it produces great photos.
Victor, as an experienced participant in the student recruitment process, what strengths do you look for in young specialists today?
I like courage and confidence in today's graduates. If you are ready to make your independent life choices, it will help you improve your personal value in the future.
As for me, I like helping my clients to solve challenging issues, and this is my professional growth.
I often read about our performance in Vedomosti; usually when we help a company to save funds, structure a big deal or sort out a challenging situation with the state authorities. Recently we helped a company to save USD 500 million by providing them with an effective position for negotiating with the American tax authorities. When you read about these things, you realise how cool it is!
Interviewed by Ekaterina Lebedeva.