Investing in global leaders

By Tracey Skordos

University meets industry in a partnership to identify and accelerate future leaders.

As the world of work changes, with many arguing it will be unrecognisable in as little as 10 years, students must prepare to be part of a workforce that is uncertain. Educators not only have a responsibility to ensure that students gain the knowledge to excel in their field, but that they also learn soft skills such as business communication, resilience, agility and the ability to work across cultures.

To facilitate this the Faculty of Business and Economics collaborates with industry to deliver co-curricular work experience allowing students to test the water and even throw themselves in at the deep end, confident that someone is there to help them swim.

In 2011, the University of Melbourne and ShineWing, China’s largest domestic accounting firm, launched an internship program to give students the opportunity to work cross-border, advance their skills and build business connections. Driven by the vision of Mr Zhang Ke, chairman of ShineWing globally and vice-president of the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants, two students travelled to Beijing in September that year. The ShineWing internship is now open to up to 10 students across Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai, giving talented and aspiring accounting students a truly Sino-Australian experience and potential career path.

Advocating for internships, Matthew Schofield, Partner at ShineWing Australia, echoes the famous words of former Chinese leader and revolutionary, Deng Xiaoping ­­­- “When our thousands of Chinese students abroad return home, you will see how China will transform itself.”

Relaxed

According to the partners, global development at ShineWing will be driven by future generations of Chinese and Australian accounting students. The program fulfils a dual strategic purpose – providing opportunities for students to experience greater education and work experience and gaining access to the nation’s best bilingual accounting talent to accelerate the firm’s growth.

Ella Wei, the program’s first intern, was recruited by ShineWing and is now a consultant within the assurance division.

“ShineWing’s internship program with the University of Melbourne has allowed us to provide Chinese students with greater employment prospects both in Australia and back home in China,” says Schofield. “Students often work in ShineWing client service teams, providing professional services to China’s big end of town. Internship programs will also increasingly be of great benefit to Australian corporates wishing to move and expand into China.”

In February this year, four students returned from their two-month placements in Hangzhou, Chengdu, Qingdao and Beijing, having experienced the fast-paced work environment of peak audit season.

Despite working long hours and being pushed out of their comfort zones, they faced the challenge head on and thrived.

Final-year Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) student Xiaoyu Tian worked in the assurance division in the Chengdu office.

This job is all about teamwork. We work together; have dinner together, even going to the gym together after work. People in the team are so friendly, and they are always there to help. All I need to do is ask and learn. Xiaoyu Tian

Dumplings

As a vital member of the team, Tian was working directly with a client across a range of projects.

“Our client for this project is a huge listed group in China which has many subsidiaries with very diverse businesses – land development, urban construction and even internet financial service. To do this auditing project, we had to communicate closely with our clients and understand them, so not just me, but everyone in the team keeps updating and learning new things. It’s like an explosion of knowledge.”

FeiFei Wu, a final-year Master of Management (Accounting) student, quickly adapted to the fast pace of ShineWing’s Hangzhou office.

“The transition from theory to practice was a bit tough,” explains Wu. “Fortunately, both project manager and department manager taught me a lot and I picked things up quickly. It was exciting to learn new things every day.”

Internships are a great opportunity to test assumptions about career choices and even help with academic planning.

The experience gave me lots of insights about my future career. It is a great opportunity to find out if this type of job is really suitable for you. FeiFei Wu

Intern Ke Bai agrees; the internship was a great way to find out whether an auditing career is right for her. A student in the Master of Management (Accounting), Ke has decided to build on what she has learned and enrolled in the ‘Advanced auditing and assurance’ subject this semester.

“China is a big, developing country with a lot of manufacturing companies,” she says. “I got the chance to visit the clients’ factories and see their work environment and to check their inventories and raw materials, which is very special because I would not have the chance to see those with my own eyes if I were not auditing the companies.”

The Faculty of Business and Economics offers employers the opportunity to recruit the highest-calibre students studying across the areas of accounting, actuarial studies, economics, finance, management, marketing, supply chain management, human resources and international business. Our mission is to enable individuals and organisations to engage with the global leaders of the future.

Tracey and the Student Employability and Enrichment team fosters strong and mutually beneficial partnerships with industry, government and not-for-profit organisations to deliver challenging and rigorous programs. We empower strategic, global thinkers who consistently step up to leadership roles, locally and internationally. Our industry engagement program will give your organisation access to these future leaders.