How to drive your international career

How to drive your international career

Hiske Deschepper may still be in the early stages of the CPA Program and her accounting career, but luckily for her both have already given her the opportunity to work abroad.

The 27 year-old, who is an Associate Member (ASA) of CPA Australia, started her accounting career in 2007, when she was offered an industry placement at Mercedes-Benz in Melbourne, Australia, while studying a double degree of Business and Arts at Swinburne University of Technology.   

She had originally considered becoming a chef. After working in a kitchen, however, Hiske decided to follow another one of her passions - accounting.

“Accounting is not something that is going to remain the same all the time, so I found the idea of a career in this field really interesting,” she says.

Over the next five years, Hiske worked her way up the corporate ladder from a Finance Assistant to a Controlling Analyst at the luxury car manufacturer.

Accounting for a global career

Then in October 2012, she decided to take her career to the next level and move to Germany to become a Controlling Expert for Business Solutions at the Headquarters of Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, in Stuttgart. Even though Hiske only knew a few words of German and would be living thousands of kilometers away from home, it was a move she knew would open up new opportunities in her accounting career. 

“It was a big decision for me to move [to Germany] because I don’t have any family there... But it was a big step and I’m really glad I did it,” she says. 

Hiske says studying the CPA Program has given her a greater understanding of the accounting profession and a big advantage over accountants in Germany, where a similar designation is not available to all accounting professionals.

“In Germany most accountants, apart from auditors, do their Masters after they finish their degrees and that’s where it ends for them,” she says. 

“I think that’s where CPA is different and can really help because it gives you this continuing knowledge where [in Germany] it’s just not available.”

Find a mentor for an international career

Apart from starting the CPA Program, the key to having early success in your career, says Hiske, is to find a suitable mentor from whom, you can draw experience and learn from. 

“My manager [at Mercedes-Benz Australia] Anthony Ciechowicz, who is now the CFO at Mercedes-Benz New Zealand, had a unique way of teaching. He would never tell you the answer to anything… he would make you reach for the answer yourself. I found that a really great quality in his leadership.”

While reflecting on her career, Hiske says the most important quality she has learned so far, is to be confident with your decisions. 

“I would say one thing that I have learnt is to take a risk once in a while and to believe in yourself.”

Top three tips to kick-start your global career:

  1. Apply for an industry placement while studying at university, to get your foot in the door
  2. Never knock back a good opportunity, and remain open to the possibility of moving interstate or overseas for work
  3. Study the CPA Program and find a good mentor that you can learn from, and help to guide you

And remember Hiske’s other passion? The 27 year-old still loves to cook and has a reputation for making a pretty good sausage roll. So there is a chance she could combine her two passions, accounting and cooking in the future.

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