Traveling back and forth between Manila and Davao City has become a routine for me during the period we, external auditors, normally consider the busy season. From November to May, I earned a lot of airline miles that enabled me to attend various client meetings down south. My trip to Davao City last November 26 was different.
This most recent trip was special, as it coincided with almost the same date 27 years ago when I reported for work as one of the pioneering audit junior staff members of Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A) Davao Branch.
While shuttling from Davao International Airport to the hotel, I still vividly recalled the time I arrived in Davao City on November 25, 1990. It was a sunny Sunday. That was my second visit to the city, the first time being sometime in March 1985 with my friends. We traveled from my hometown in Cotabato City to buy shoes for our high school graduation. Unfortunately, we were held up right after we saw a movie at the Galaxy Theater. We went home empty-handed, with no shoes no show for our Davao trip.
Setting my feet again on Davao City to start my professional career brought back those terrifying memories. With just a thousand pesos to spare, I first secured my board and lodging. The amount left was just enough for me to survive another week before I received my first salary.
It was my birthday a few days after. It was one of my loneliest: No greetings received (a telegram from my parents arrived a day after), away from my family, and I had no extra money to celebrate. As early as 7 p.m., there was no other option but to go to sleep. While lying in my double deck bed, I promised myself that this situation would just be temporary, hoping things would change for the better someday.
It was tough at that time for an average student to land a job with a prestigious accounting firm. You needed to be a graduate of a reputable school, be at the top of your class, possess leadership skills or have the potential to be a CPA board topnotcher. P&A at that time was only two years old, yet had already established a mark in the industry by having at least half of its recruits being in the top 20 of the CPA board exams (the Board of Accountancy publishes the top 20 examinees back then). A few average students were given a chance, though some would say, it was simply by luck that they were picked in the draw. However, I believe recruiting junior audit staff members was not just for the sake of completing the lineup for the busy season. Of course, there must be something in the candidate that stood out during the interview, placing that person in the roster of new hires.
When I got back to Manila from Davao earlier this month, I had a scheduled “meet the partners” session with our new audit staff hires. I shared with them my journey at P&A and what I had learned and observed to survive this challenging auditors’ world. I would like to share with you as well what these learning experiences are, as they are valuable to everyone and not only to those who are working in this industry.
Make the most of your opportunities
Once you are on board, don’t waste the opportunities that present themselves right in front of you. New hires in an auditing firm would somehow be on equal footing prior to training. During the training, the top performers would naturally increase their chances of getting the opportunity to handle the big-ticket accounts for obvious reasons. Hence, if you are one of those top performers, you are already ahead of the pack. Although there could be an apparent difference in the opportunities afforded to new hires, one must not use that as an excuse not to give their 100 percent. The crux of the matter is how seriously you take the work that was assigned to you. Big or small assignments should always be given your 100 percent. Better performance will lead you to new and possibly bigger opportunities. Therefore, do not lose heart if it seems that you are not given challenging opportunities at work. Stay focused and always give it your best shot.
There will be personal sacrifices
It is not going to be a walk in the park. You have to understand the nature of your work and what it demands. The irony of working in an accounting firm is that, when everyone is celebrating, auditors are working: either attending an inventory count observation near the year-end, or finalizing an account during Valentine’s Day or Holy Week.
Good luck if your birthday falls in March or April, the busiest months prior to tax payment deadlines for calendar year-end clients. Of course, auditors always find time to party during and after a grueling busy season. My point here is that you need to set your priorities and be willing to make sacrifices.
Mind your gap. Invest in yourself
Read. Read. Read. You need to invest in yourself on top of the available training programs provided to you by your employer. This is the only way to be ahead of others.
Find your fit
Be conscious of how you fit in the organization where you work. Find your passion. That passion may be in the
work you are currently doing, in the periphery of your core work, or in another department within your organization. It could also be outside, with you being an entrepreneur. The learning experiences you accumulate and the work habits that you developed in your first job will always be with you and at your disposal, whatever career you want to pursue afterwards.
Now it’s Christmas time, happy inventory count (and Merry Christmas, of course)!
Ramil Nanola is a partner, Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and over 850 staff members. For your comments, please email ramil. firstname.lastname@example.org or PAGrantThornton.email@example.com. For more information about P&A Grant Thornton, visit our website www.grantthornton.com.ph.
As published in The Manila Times, dated 20 December 2017