Jason Kumar, Audit Supervisor - Business Advisory and Assurance
Host firm: Baker Tilly Virchow Krause
Location: Chicago, USA
Role on secondment: Senior Accountant - Business Advisory and Assurance
Read more secondment adventures here.
What made you decide to take a secondment?
A career move to gain some international exposure; the chance to upskill and learn new processes and auditing techniques; the opportunity to work with different people and clients and experience a different culture; the need to get out of my comfort zone and do something new; and my desire to see more of the world.
What type of work were you doing while on secondment?
My team was responsible for auditing various manufacturing and distribution entities. Some of my work was actually based outside of Chicago, which gave me the opportunity to travel and see other cities in the USA.
What did you enjoy most about the secondment, from a work perspective?
I made a lot of lifelong friends with the people that I worked with and found that I always had somebody to talk to. The managers and partners that I worked for were super nice and accommodating, and I was given recognition for the work that I did. The expectations set were reasonable, and I was able to adjust my own workload and take on harder areas if I felt I needed more of a challenge.
How has/will this secondment opportunity impact your career?
I was able to display my strengths and work on my weaknesses with different teams and work with different clients in the USA. I had the opportunity to showcase my abilities as a Senior while learning new skills and auditing techniques to use when I arrived home. Upon returning from my secondment I received a promotion, which was based on positive feedback from both my home firm and my secondment firm.
What was the best thing you experienced during your trip, that you wouldn’t have been able to do without your host firm?
I was able to travel to Phoenix, Arizona in the middle of winter to visit a client. Imagine taking a two-week break from the freezing cold to visit a city where 30 degrees is the norm every day during winter. It felt like a mini vacation, with good food, good nightlife and spring training for the upcoming baseball season all happening at the same time.
How did you make friends during your secondment?
My accent was an ice breaker. It easily distinguished me from the locals, and I was quizzed about absolutely everything Australian. Also, a lot of people working in Chicago are not actually from Chicago, so I always had the opportunity to talk to people about where they were from and how they ended up in Chicago.
What were your living arrangements like during your secondment?
It was cold and snowing in Chicago at the time of my secondment - think icy wind and thick snow. Luckily, I had the opportunity to travel to visit many clients. My accommodation in Chicago was a serviced apartment which was 10 minutes’ walk from the office and close to the sights, restaurants and shops of Chicago. It was a good size, with a supermarket nearby and views of Lake Michigan.
What was the highlight of living in the city, as opposed to visiting as a tourist?
Being a part of the culture and vibe of Chicago. By the time my secondment was over, I knew where to eat, where to drink and where to see everything that Chicago had to offer. Chicago had become a second home.
What was the best thing you ate during your secondment?
All of the junk food. I ate some fast food burgers that were better than anything that Australia has to offer. In-N-Out. Shake Shack. Steak and Shake. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. Chick-Fil-A. Five Guys. Potbelly Sandwiches. Jimmy John’s. Chipotle. The best fine dining that I had was a rib eye steak at Swift & Sons in Chicago.
What has been your most memorable or valuable experience at your secondment?
I had many valuable experiences while on my secondment, but the most memorable would have to be kicking back and watching a Cubs baseball game after work one day with the rest of the team. It was nice to enjoy the vibe and culture and discover why Americans love their sports so much.