What's your job about?
Downer is shaping the future of Australia by delivering valuable infrastructure and services which empower communities. The graduate program consists of three rotations of eight months each (rotation structure can vary based on your role). My first rotation was in the Renewables and Power Systems division for eight months, and my current rotation is in the Power, Gas and Communications division. Each rotation gives me exposure to different parts of the business, with the opportunity to build my network across the business and learn more about the operations of the company.
My daily work involves solving different problems with varying levels of difficulty, and in most cases, it involves engaging with various stakeholders. More specifically, my role involves the responsibilities of a management accountant and business analyst overseeing a portfolio of projects with the finance team. This involves project financial reporting for reviews by senior management – as a part of this, the following tasks are involved – cash forecasting, variance analysis (understanding why costs are over/under compared to the forecast) and what impact this will have on the project(s). I also manage cost allocation to projects via clearing accounts and invoicing. My current rotation has a focus on business analytics and how we can improve business reporting. Presenting the numbers is only part of the role; understanding the impact and why it is important is equally important (if not more important).
It is important to ask questions to better understand the task and the best way to achieve the desired outcome as the information I prepare is presented to senior levels of management so it’s important to get it right to showcase my skills.
What's your background?
Born and raised in India, I moved to Australia in 2010 to study a Bachelor of Business at La Trobe University then went on to achieve a Master of Business and Master of Professional Accounting at Monash University. At La Trobe, I was a Study Support Mentor for the Business Faculty at the residential colleges on campus. At Monash, I did an internship at Team Monash which facilitates community events which built my work experience in addition to my volunteer work. Building work experience while at university is important as it gives you situations to demonstrate your skills when you apply for roles after graduation, and develops you as a person. It’s also important to have fun at Uni as these will be some of the best times you experience growing up.
One of the most important decisions of my life was to move to Australia to study. This broadened my perspective on life as I met people from around the world and explored a new country with new experiences to offer. I would recommend a study abroad semester as this gives you valuable experiences.
I heard about the Downer Graduate Program from a friend whom I studied with at Monash University. This recommendation sparked my interest leading to research about Downer and my application in the program. Relationships creating success. I have been on this journey with the company for 10 months with exposure to two different parts of the business, with a third rotation on the horizon.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes. I believe it is possible for someone with a different education background to do the same job as me. I believe this because it takes more than technical skills to succeed. There are other traits such as a positive attitude, an eagerness to learn and determination to solve problems and interpersonal skills that can affect the success of your role. Technical skills will help up to a point but to progress beyond that, soft skills are the key. Importantly, experiences (work and university) builds these skills.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The coolest part of my job is knowing that we are making a positive difference for the future of Australia, especially through the development and maintenance of sustainable energy sources. In the Downer Graduate Program, the coolest part is rotating to different parts of the business which helps you decide what kind of work you enjoy doing.
I enjoy learning about the operational side of the business as this gives me more context when dealing with the financial side. Learning engineering and project management terms, and watching projects progress from the planning to commissioning stages is quite exciting!
The moments which show that I have been doing the right thing are when I have gained people’s trust to deliver a solution. A more direct method is receiving constructive feedback about my performance, which is specifically part of the graduate program with regular reviews.
What are the limitations of your job?
The biggest limitations of my job are:
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
The three key pieces of advice I would give my younger self: