Alumni Q&A - Haynes D'Souza

Bachelor of Commerce 2015

Current role/company: Finance Manager at Airwallex

Where in the world are you? Melbourne

Tell us about your experience since leaving university. How have you come to your current position? Is this the sort of role you always wanted to be in, or were there some twists and turns along the way?

I graduated BCom majoring in Accounting and Finance, and as a Kwong Lee Dow Scholarship recipient. During my years at university I worked at PwC (Assurance) as a Trainee for 2 years and then completed internships in Wealth Management and Debt Capital Markets. To be honest, I wasn't convinced about Finance - I was more interested in Philosophy, however, I wasn't excited by a life spent in academia. After graduating, I moved to Canberra to join the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) as an Associate. I wanted to learn more about military, government and public sector consulting.

2 years in the "Canberra Bubble" is a long time, so I crossed the Pacific Ocean and moved to San Francisco! I joined PwC USA as an Consultant and worked on numerous startups - including the Uber and Airbnb IPOs. I was amazed by the entrepreneurial culture in Silicon Valley and met several University of Melbourne alumni in the Bay area. After almost 3 years between San Francisco and New York, I decided that I wanted to work on an Australian startup - so I joined Airwallex in February 2020. I love our growth story and I am passionate about seeing Australian business scale globally.

Do you see yourself staying in the same career or is changing career pathways something you would consider?
After almost 10 years in finance, I firmly believe in the power of enterprise and free markets to improve the lives of others. Strong controls, effective processes and sound investments are key in growing businesses sustainably - and in turn, generating meaningful employment for others. I am passionate about small business and I want to help companies become financially sound so they can scale internationally.

During my stint in San Francisco, I caught the entrepreneurial bug - so I'm always on the hunt for startup ideas. In fact, I recently started my own company (87 Advisory) to help small businesses perform Financial Due Diligence over their M&A and Venture Capital process.

Which year of your degree did you sign up for internships? What advice can you give to students who are seeking an internship?

I was very lucky - I landed the PwC Traineeship program when I was 18 (still in high school). However, I still remember how competitive the internship process is. Hours spent on applications, psychometric testing, coffees, telephone calls and interviews is an incredibly stressful process. I am a big believer in students getting real world experience as soon as possible - try everything and see what you enjoy! Leverage our global alumni network, keep an open mind, and think boldly in developing relationships in our industry.

What method would you say is best for reaching out for connections and networking?

My recommendation is don't be afraid to dive into Linkedin and reach out to folks who you are genuinely interested in working with. I would say, if possible, get experience in a different city or country - you will grow just as much personally, as you will professionally. Do your research, have insightful questions, and leverage your network!

If you’d like to ask Haynes more about his experiences, connect with him on LinkedIn and mention you have read the Q&A.