December 12, 2013

An Italian Goes Down Under


The Rewards of an Opportunity Taken

by Nicola Capri, Director of Revirevi Sri in Milan

It was a cold December day in Milan and I had been working late when an email arrived from Anne Roughley of Spry Roughley in Sydney, Australia.  She was asking if we could recommend someone to work in her office for three months the following summer to help them with their busy audit season.

Work had been hectic, it had been a long day and frankly I was in a bad mood. So, as many of us do, I said to myself “I’ll deal with that later,” shut down my PC and drove home.

A month had gone by before I found the email again in my inbox. Having recovered from the busy season this time when I read the email a thought occurred to me; why not do it myself?  The timing was good as Australian financial statements are balanced at end of June and audits go on in the following months - their busy time is a classic slow time for audits in Italy.

I’ve also been travelling since I was a kid and spent time abroad when studying. For me, travelling and meeting different cultures is the best way to grow. But since I started to work, Milan had become my somewhat insular world.

My mind began playing with the idea that seemed too great an opportunity to miss. It was time for change. Before I even sent off a response to find out if the post was still available I was imagining myself on the plane.

But it wasn’t to be.

My procrastination on that tiring December day meant Anne had found the help she needed.  However, I was determined not to miss out and let her know I wanted to be considered for next year. At the following INAA meeting, we had a long chat and the next thing I knew I wasn’t just imagining myself on the flight I actually was on my way to Australia!

It all happened so fast. As I was on the plane I suddenly realized what I was doing and wondered how my life was going to change. I was 37, partner of Revirevi Srl, the INAA member in Italy for auditing and Director of the office of Milan. All of these things felt secure. This was the first time, after a quite long time, that I was going to embark on an experience in a different country outside my ‘comfort zone’.  I had no idea what life and work was going to be like ‘Down Under’!

When I arrived, everything was different. Anne and I agreed my responsibilities, which were of course less than compared to my current ones in terms of professional work.  And while at first I thought of this being a compromise for the opportunity I soon realized that my challenges were not meant to be only professional but also personal – the biggest of which being the language. I am the first to admit my English is not perfect but I wasn’t quite prepared for the accent which at times didn’t even sound like English to me!

During the first week I started to get used to the office, the paperwork, software and other technology. It was like travelling back to my very first day at work! While I was warmly welcomed it was a challenging time. I needed to learn what to expect from my colleagues and they needed to do the same with me. Though, as soon as I got involved in a client project everything became immediately easier.

Well, almost everything.

I found it quite difficult to get used to the work rhythm and habits in the office. I mean, how could they live without a coffee break? Not to mention commuting for over an hour every morning to get to work!  For a while I wasn’t sure if I would adjust.

After the first few weeks though I started to appreciate the pleasure of travelling. I began using the time to read, catch up on work or simply just people watch. I started to like working with fewer interruptions and most of all being able to leave work at 5pm. Australians have a great respect for their private life and, unlike many in Italy, they don’t usually work overtime.

Personally it was great to fully experience a new city with a different language and life style.  I felt the challenge and the excitement of managing life for the first time in a country which was completely foreign to me.

At the same time, from a working perspective, it was interesting and informative to see how the work was managed when visiting clients. Professionally the different environment allowed me to understand new ways firms like Spry Roughly organize themselves. I realized that audit in Australia is not so far from audit in Italy, but from an organizational point of view Australia is far ahead. I’ve picked up some great ideas to implement back in Milan to help my firm change for the better.

My only regret, if I can call it that, was the missing coffee breaks. While I tried to convince my colleagues in the office to have a short coffee break (I only drink espresso so not much time is required) I couldn’t change their mind. Work is too important!

At the end of the three months I discussed the experience with the partners of Spry Roughley. We shared the main differences and the characteristics of our businesses and, where possible looked for ways to improve both. This in particular I believe was very helpful for all involved.

I now really appreciate the difference between working in Italy, and within Europe in general, to that of the same work in a country such as Australia. The culture there is more relaxed and positive. I felt that people are have more freedom to do different things such as change careers if they choose. In this sense it seems their approach to life is less structured and more creative.  As a result of this experience, I feel energized and motivated to continue to embrace change in my work and my life as a whole.

Being an international network we have the unique ability to open the doors of our offices and welcome international colleagues. And I would very much encourage INAA members to do just that. It is a great opportunity to learn new aspects of our job and an intensely rewarding experience for personal enrichment.

Thank you Anne and Martin for the great opportunity!

Milan Director Joins Us Down Under

by Martin Roughley, Managing Director Spry Roughley Sydney Australia

With Australian companies having a very tight reporting period Spry Roughley in Sydney usually need additional audit staff between July and October each year.  In the past few years we have had five transferees to help in this busy season - two from INAA and one as an INAA member contact – all very different and all successful.

We learn a lot from our transferees through sharing experiences and insights into different work practices and cultures, and believe the transferee also benefits greatly. For us a good transferee is an experienced auditor who is fluent in English, who wants to get to

know another country and is not afraid to get out and about. Audit is an ideal background for transferees as so many of the working standards are international.

Our latest transferee was Nicola Capri, Director of Revirevi Sri in Milan.  Whilst our transferees are usually at an earlier stage of their careers, Nicola was persistent and persuasive in convincing us that he was happy to roll up his sleeves and work in a more junior, hands-on audit role than his normal work in Milan.  This was a great advantage to us because not only did we get our audits completed, Nicola’s additional experience and knowledge provided us with valuable insights into many of our processes and procedures.

On a lighter note, we have also learned about Italian coffee habits, that the Italian clients provide lunch for their auditors and that musicians can make good auditors! Transferees always bring a fresh perspective to our team in Sydney!

We hope to continue to host INAA transferees – we see it as a way to reward and encourage good auditors and continually improve international working practices.

Spry Roughley helps with some of the costs of a transfer and under Australian law all transferees must be paid the salaries which are comparable with Australian staff.

If you, or someone you know, would be interested in a transfer in 2014 (or future years) Anne Roughley would be pleased to hear from you:

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