Life at Deloitte

Your first client engagement: Manan Shah

Lessons learned when starting out at Deloitte

June 27, 2019

Deloitte professionals are constantly challenged by new projects and clients, allowing them to learn and grow professionally. The scope and depth of the work are varied and sometimes complex. But when asked, Deloitte professionals always remember their very first client engagement.

For some, it was both an exciting and nerve-racking experience, while others were confident in their abilities right off the bat. But the consensus is that it was an opportunity to grow and to learn from their team members, understand the needs of their clients, and to make an impact. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing a series about several of our recent hires’ first engagement experiences from when they joined Deloitte. 

Manan Shah, tax consultant, Deloitte Tax LLP, Chicago, IL

Brief job description: I’m a tax consultant in the tax management consulting practice of Deloitte Tax LLP (“Deloitte Tax”). I interned with Deloitte Tax in the summer of 2017 and started full-time in the summer of 2019. After interning, I couldn’t wait to utilize my accounting background to dig deep into the connection between the tax world and the world of innovation and automation through tech solutions.

Outside of work: When I’m not working, I spend my time performing, recording, and producing music in a professional music group called SAMAA Music—we specialize in bridging the divide between Western pop music, Indian, Pakistani, and Latino music. Our goal is to build a brand that showcases how the art of multiple cultures can be blended and popularized in the mainstream. Music is an absolute passion of mine.

Fun fact: English is my 3rd language after Hindi and Gujarati (although few would ever be able to tell).

Describe your first day at Deloitte.

Walking into an office as a new hire [after new hire orientation and training] was so much different than coming in as an intern. It was intimidating, but mostly it was so exciting because I came in with a completely blank slate and a yearning to prove myself. I remember coming in at 8:00 AM and wondering if I was too early or too late. Luckily, I was joined by fellow new hires and experienced professionals eager to answer questions about what to expect from Deloitte. After completing about three hours of training and filling the day with networking activities, I remember walking out feeling energized, hopeful, and eager to learn over the next few months.What was your first client engagement?

I was working on an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system integration. The scope of our work involved the configuration and testing of an external tax engine to successfully process and calculate tax amounts on transactions in dozens of new countries. The scope was global, and I was able to learn firsthand the complexity and data wrangling capacity required by tax.  

What was your role?

As a staff level on this engagement, I was heavily involved in the efforts of configuration in the tax engine, the subsequent testing of these configurations, as well as the documentation. Working across systems also allowed me to be heavily involved in the creation of report specifications for blueprinting the data that flowed between systems.

Did you feel nervous?

Absolutely! It is difficult to know how to feel when you are not quite sure what to expect on your first project. This project required me to travel  every single week—something that put me outside of my comfort zone. Despite this, however, I was lucky enough to have a team that was supportive and made me feel at ease. This is something that I have found to be a pattern at Deloitte—even though the work is challenging, the people are talented and very willing to mentor.

What are three tips you would give someone just about to start a client engagement?

1.    Talk less and listen more

2.    Ask thoughtful questions

3.    Build experience in something technical

Is there anything you know now that would have helped you with your first client engagement?

Something that would have helped me is knowing the importance of taking initiative. By this, I mean seeking out ways where you can be useful, and not just waiting for a senior team member to give you a task. Members of a project team are extremely busy, and it is not always easy to find tasks for inexperienced staff. If I knew how much of a difference it would have made, I know, I could have been more helpful on my first engagement and could have learned how to excel technically and professionally.

Check back for more stories about our professionals' first client engagements!

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