Chris has 30 years experience working at Ernst & Young under his belt. Self-described as, “relatively serious, but a bit flippant”, he’s proud of never having a gym membership. But, that hasn't stopped him exercising his other strengths to go from cadet to partner and Asia Pacific Industry Leader in Assurance.

A heavy weight career: Cadet to Partner

“Looking back, I chose Ernst & Young because of the people; they were down to earth and made me feel comfortable.

Back then, I was just a young school kid and didn't know much. So one of the benefits of the cadetship was it was practical. Going from school to an environment where there are people with different levels of experience, there’s nothing better than being on the ground and seeing how real professionals do their job. It meant that I could approach work from a practical point of view when I graduated, which really accelerated my development. A lot of what I’ve learnt has stayed with me throughout my career. It’s been a long time since I was a cadet and things have changed, but the team spirit has stayed the same and is integral to what we do. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Jump on board early
“As a cadet, the main thing I recognised was that Ernst & Young is a learning organisation. Cadets are in a position to get the benefit of an employer geared towards helping them develop at the earliest stage. This will give you a huge head start. To be successful having the ability to listen and to ask questions when you don't understand will stand you in great stead. You’ll also need to be enthusiastic, suggest ideas, be part of the team. And you’ll also develop your time management skills - you’ll need them when you’re studying and working.

As a cadet, you can look forward to building a great foundation for success. You’ll get a broad perspective on the market that others don’t see, within a constantly changing work environment. Early in your career you’ll be working with other organisations and interacting with senior people. A cadetship is an express ride to connect with those at the very top of big businesses.”

It’s not all work and no play
In the Ernst & Young Brisbane office, drinks around the esky on Friday is just one of the ways people at EY get to connect, as Chris explains:

“As a partner in our real estate group, I try to go to as many of our social events as I can, whether that’s the formal ‘end of busy season’ events, trips to the Hunter Valley, or just a get together for bowling.

Social events are really important to the life and culture at Ernst & Young. Yes, they create a strong connection within the team, but more importantly you get out of the work environment and have fun. It demonstrates that Ernst & Young appreciates the balance you have when you can relax and have a life outside of work. Overall, it’s about getting the job done, not how you do it.

That’s why one of the things I also value most is that I do have flexibility with my time. If something comes up, whether it’s the kids, social time or something else I want to do, I can go and do it. I’ve found I’m far more effective in my work the more outside interests I have. EY trusts and supports you in that way and encourages it through a social workplace.”

It all adds up to accounting
So, why did Chris choose accounting? “Well, back when I was a kid, my parents used to have dinner parties and one of the guys there seemed to have a great life. He drove the best cars, had the nicest house and he was an accountant. So to me, it seemed like a perfect way to be financially successful. I was always good at maths, so I thought ‘accounting makes sense to me’. As it turns out maths is less relevant to accounting that I realised at the time!

I didn’t have too many expectations of the job, but I was surprised by how much time I’d spend out of the office - as an auditor you do this a lot. It was nice to have a career with variety; I got to see different organisations and how they do things. It worked out well, because I learnt pretty early on in my career that if I had to stay at the same desk every day it would drive me crazy!”

Calculating the odds of success
When Chris thinks about his career and the work of EY, it’s in terms of how it’s helped his clients to be effective:

“Decision making is only as good as the information you have, so the extent that you have access to historical reporting and forecasting determines the opportunities to make the right decision for your organisation.

What I saw in the GFC is that the people who were able to promptly analyse the implication of the major global upheavals were the same people who could react quickly and come out on top. In bad times, people who understand the key metrics of their business are those that will survive and grow. Our work at Ernst & Young really underpins the success of a business. That’s why we’re able to make such a massive difference to our clients.”