Where did you grow up? Important stages of your life (school, education, experience abroad, jobs etc.)
I grew up in Brazil, where I finished high school and completed a Bachelor of Law. During my studies there, I worked as a law intern for five years, in both the private and public sector. I migrated to Australia (Perth) in 2011, where I learnt English, held a number of hospitality jobs and completed my Bachelor of Accounting and Business Law.
How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?
Upon completing my Accounting/Business Law degree, I applied for a range of graduate programs, thinking that the ANAO sounded like one of the most interesting ones. I was invited to attend an ANAO assessment centre in Canberra, and from there, was accepted into the ANAO Graduate Program’s 2019 cohort, starting in February.
How did you choose your specialisation (compared to others)? / Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?
Having a law background, I thought about becoming a lawyer here in Australia, but I wanted to try something different. The audit field appealed to me because you get to work with a range of different topics and clients, gaining exposure and experience that can be applied to most jobs out there.
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
The interview was a panel consisting of three managers and we were given 15 minutes before the interview to prepare answers to our questions. The questions asked for real-life examples of how I solved a problem, reacted to a situation and handled the pressure. We were encouraged to use the STAR model to answer them. Although it was a formal interview, the panel made me feel comfortable and the conversation flowed very well.
What does your employer do?
From a financial statement perspective, the ANAO audits all Commonwealth entities, including corporate entities such as NBN Co and Australia Post. These are mandate audits that support accountability and transparency in the Australian Government. The ANAO also audits entities from a performance point of view – we assess whether agencies are working effectively and efficiently in a diverse range of topics. In a nutshell, the ANAO supports the accountability of the Australian Government by reporting to parliament how taxpayers money is spent and if is being spent effectively and efficiently.
What are your areas of responsibility?
An auditor’s responsibilities consist of gaining an understanding of their client, developing an audit plan, then obtaining audit evidence and testing it against financial statements—providing reasonable assurance that these statements are free from material misstatement.
Since day one I have been assigned my own tasks and responsibilities. I have been directly involved with testing Cash and Purchase and Payables, and have helped my team with different tasks.
Can you describe a typical workday? What was the last thing you worked on?
Given the variety of work we do, every day is usually different. I have worked with different clients and in different locations. I have also worked in different areas of the Assurance Group. This means that one day I might be having meetings with the client and the next day I am documenting and/or testing the results of the meetings.
For this financial year, I am working on the Department of Social Services Audit. My last task was to gain an understanding of their processes around Purchases and Payables. To do this, I attended a series of meetings, took notes/minutes and prepared a working paper detailing my understanding. This working paper will be reviewed by a senior officer and become audit evidence.
What are the career prospects with your job? / Where could you or others in your position go from here?
Within the ANAO I can aim for leadership roles, including Senior Auditor and Audit Manager. I could also move to other Commonwealth or state public sector departments, or the private sector—the technical and soft skills you gain as an auditor are highly sought after.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
To work as an assurance auditor, a finance/accounting background is highly recommended. That being said, I do believe it is learning on the job situation, and a graduate with the right mindset would be able to learn the skills, even with a different background. In addition, the ANAO has different groups (for example, Performance Audit, Data Analytics and Corporate) that accommodate the vast majority of backgrounds, from politics to archeology.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I would probably be working as a consultant, or have followed the law path.
What I love the most is using my professional scepticism and objectivity, and getting to think outside the box, to address different challenges in different situations.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Do you have to work on weekends? Are stress levels high?
During the final phase of audits, stress levels are higher than normal and we do have to work longer hours and some weekends. It can be a bit tiring and stressful, but you have the full support of your team and managers. The ANAO also promotes initiatives to help you cope with the pressure, like mental health training and social events.
As graduates, we do have responsibilities and are held accountable for them. You are expected to deliver quality work and manage your time well. This is an excellent opportunity to develop your technical and soft skills and work on your project management from the start of your career.
A word to the wise...
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your role or even be career-focused.
Ask as many questions as you can—you would be surprised how much knowledge and experience your coworkers have. It is important to have a curious mind and understand why you are doing a task (not only how to do it).
Say yes, be involved—during your graduate year, you will have a lot of opportunities, both in your personal and professional life. Take on as many as you can (but don’t overwork yourself!). Be open-minded and don’t get too comfortable, try different things, meet new people!
Don’t be too hard on yourself—we all have our ups and downs, we all make mistakes. As a graduate, making mistakes is part of the learning curve and will happen at some point. When you make a mistake, own it, let your supervisor know, and most importantly, learn from it.