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Grant Thornton

  • #5 in Accounting & advisory
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

James Dang

As I gain more experience, I am given the opportunity to assist with the more complex items such as tax returns for companies and trusts, tax advice pieces and even business reports.

What's your job about?

Grant Thornton is a professional services firm that prides itself on providing meaningful advice and solutions to a variety of dynamic organisations. My role is as a graduate associate within the Private Business Tax & Advisory division which specialises in delivering taxation services and business advice to an array of clients ranging in size and scale from small family groups to large multi-national businesses.

The day-to-day tasks within the service line largely entail tax compliance engagements where we assist our clients with meeting their various tax obligations such as income tax returns as well as accounting functions such as preparing management accounts and financial statements. As part of these functions, we develop and maintain a close working relationship with our clients and gain an understanding of their business strategy and operations.

My main responsibilities as a grad are to prepare less complex lodgements such as individual tax returns and activity statements. As I gain more experience, I am given the opportunity to assist with the more complex items such as tax returns for companies and trusts, tax advice pieces and even business reports. Regardless of the work being done, there are always new and changing issues to consider which creates a multitude of opportunities to learn.

What's your background?

I was born and raised in Melbourne and have lived there my entire life. I first found an interest in business through the family-owned and operated business and always wondered how various facets of a business interact with each other to keep the business running. Despite this, I never really thought about pursuing a career in this as I preferred to be in a profession that was more hands-on.

During my late high school years, I was placed into the accounting subject by chance as the allocation for other subjects was already full. To my surprise, I quite enjoyed the subject and how it tied into business performance and the business world as a whole. Due to my re-ignited interest, I went on to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne and graduated at the end of 2020.

Whilst studying for my degree I applied for and completed the month-long vacation program at Grant Thornton within the Private Advisory division (as it was called at the time). During the program, I found the work stimulating and more importantly, enjoyed working with the team. Fortunately, I was offered a graduate position following completion of the program (which I gladly accepted) and started full-time after I graduated.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes! Although beneficial, there is no requirement to know everything about tax or accounting as most of the training is done on the job. The division provides a wealth of learning and development opportunities to allow for anyone – even those outside of the traditional commerce/accounting backgrounds – to take responsibility for their development and prosper in the role. In saying the above, there are certainly transferrable skills such as strong verbal and written communication, attention to detail and the ability to work collaboratively and autonomously which are essential to thriving in the role.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

Definitely the variety of work that comes up from time to time within the division. Although the main type of work performed day-to-day is in the form of recurring tax compliance engagements, there are numerous opportunities to be involved in a breadth of engagements outside of the standard tax work. Such special tasks range from financial modelling and forecasting to business reports using the Grant Thornton patented 6-Box model conversation. This exposure allows me to develop skills and awareness of issues that I never expected so early on in my career. In addition to this, the different types of work help break up the standard day-to-day tasks and make my role more interesting than it already is.

What are the limitations of your job?

As with most roles in professional services, there is a busy season or two and my role is not immune to this. Due to the higher than usual volume of work to be completed and limited time to do so, there is a longer time commitment required to ensure that deadlines are met and clients are satisfied. I found this time pretty challenging as I was relatively inexperienced and still learning on the job. Despite this, I was able to manage as a direct consequence of the strong support network within the division.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Be your own person – You will see the journey and achievements of others and want to compare yourself to them. Try to ignore that and take stock in your achievements and focus on your path.
  2. Give yourself time – there no rush to go from school into uni and into full-time work. Take time for yourself and do the things you want to do because you will never have that much free time again.
  3. Don’t be afraid to be wrong – no one is expected to know everything and be right all the time and you are not an exception. Feel free to make all the mistakes you want because that is the only way you will learn and grow.