When Raeesa joined EY’s Graduate Trainee Programme in 2014, she was hoping to complete her required articles and qualify with the sought-after Chartered Accountant designation but being part of the EY family has brought her much more than just a qualification.
Her three years working on the technology, media, telecommunications and retail portfolios have been stimulating, challenging and exciting and have taught her a range of skills beyond the technical skills she was expecting when she started out.
“The more I do, the more I enjoy my job. It is never the same, every audit is different and I’m constantly stimulated with different engagements across different sectors. My brain is so happy!” she says.
The supervisory role is the most senior trainee role in the graduate programme and Raeesa has been responsible for supervising the small audit teams dispatched to clients, project managing aspects of the audit, liaising with clients and management as well as assisting with the audit itself.
“What I loved about being a supervisor is that you get to see the whole picture of the client’s business rather than focusing on just one aspect. Audit is exciting because it starts small and it gets bigger as the audit progresses and at the end there are a final set of financial statements and it’s really fulfilling to know that this thing that’s available to benefit the public, you’ve played your small part in that.”
But Raeesa isn’t only energised by the technical aspects of the work, but also thrives on the interpersonal aspects of the job. She appreciates the fact that assurance is a client facing profession that gives her the opportunity to engage with lots of different people from clients, to senior management through to her peers in the trainee programme.
“Each client you work with is different, you’re working with different individuals so there is always something to learn from everyone.”
Learning and development is certainly the central element of the trainee programme. Recruits are provided with the core technical skills they require in the first week of the programme, learning everything from the EY applications and databases to the basic methodology the organisation uses. This in then built on throughout the three year programme with updates from the technical department on any relevant policy changes through to soft skills like project management, communication and presentation skills.
The formal training programme is supported by a mentorship aspect, with each EY employee provided with a counsellor to assist them with their career development or simply acts as a sounding board on professional and personal matters.
“As a supervisor, my counsellor was an Associate Director and she challenged me to think about the bigger picture, longer term rather than just short term,” Raeesa explains.
As to what attracted her to EY? She says: “It’s the company culture, I didn’t feel like a number. The organisation has created an environment where you can reach your potential both personally and professionally. You can align your personal goals within the company, it is possible to align those two priorities.”
Raeesa signed on to the EY Graduate Trainee Programme while completing her Honours through UNISA but says she first encountered EY through the high-profile recruitment events at Wits University where she completed her undergraduate degree.
The life of a trainee is a busy one that is deadline driven and not without its challenges but Raeesa thrives on the fast-paced environment and is inspired by the youthful energy and the work-hard play-hard culture at EY.
“Within the organisation there are lots of social functions and sporting events and those are a great opportunity to meet other people and through that you can collaborate with other people. It’s amazing to have this shared experience with someone who is in the same situation as you.”
After completing her three year training contract, Raeesa has had a chance to reflect on her journey and, looking back, it’s been a fantastic period in her life working with peers of a similar age, being stimulated and challenged by the dynamic energy of EY. She hopes to build on that momentum in 2017 and get exposure to the Assurance Assistant Manager role, learning and mastering a new set of skills in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector.
“The more you work here the more reasons you discover there are to love the place that you didn’t know about when you signed up. I love the EY experience and for the immediate future EY is the place I want to be.”