Dorota’s Story – South Africa to Sydney – Overseas Accountancy Jobs


Woman on beachThink Global Recruitment assisted Dorota to move from South Africa to Macquarie Bank in Sydney where she was promoted within two years to Internal Audit Manager. Our Managing Director, Abigail Stevens, recently caught up with her to find out how her career has been since. This is her story.

“Around the time I completed my training with EY there was a mass exodus of people leaving South Africa to move to London. I was going to go too but then the opportunity came up to attend Think Global Recruitment’s Accountancy Worldwide event. I had always thought that I would be living in the UK but that event encouraged me to consider other options. It was the first time I’d heard about Macquarie, so after the presentation, I went home and did my research and discovered that they had a good reputation.

I naturally had the fear of moving to a new country, combined with the fact that I was doing it my own. I was worried about the cultural challenges and that I might find it hard to understand the way that people spoke. Altogether it took me a couple of years to properly settle in. Unless you know people it can be tricky but it does also depend on where you go. If you join a big institutional bank people would usually just go to work and that’s it, but if you are working for a company that’s more retail facing, they tend to have more active social circles.”

Macquarie Bank

“I started out as an Internal Auditor at Macquarie Bank in Sydney. Whilst I was working there I learnt a lot about Risk Management and decided that it was the area that I was most interested in. There was a very competitive and ambitious work culture. If I’d decided to stay in practice the situation would have definitely been a lot easier.”

BNP Paribas

“After two and a half years l decided it was time to leave Macquarie. I felt done with Audit and went searching for a job with new opportunities. I managed to find one with one of France’s biggest banks, BNP Paribas.  I was involved with the three lines of defence: Internal Audit, Operational Risk and Risk Management.  Working there allowed me to get exposure to Risk Management but from a back office perspective. I had the best of both worlds, working for a big brand but in a small office environment.”


“My role has allowed me to travel to Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, UK and New Zealand.

I left BNP after fifteen months when the opportunity came up to work for CommSec (Commonwealth Securities), where I have been for the last three years. CommSec is a large stockbroking firm that works with Commonwealth, Australia’s biggest bank. I work in line one Risk Management as a Risk Senior Manager. My role is all about helping businesses succeed and ensuring they do things the right way. I work with a friendly group of people, something which I now really appreciate.

great barrier reefMy role has allowed me to travel to Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, UK and New Zealand.  With these trips you could be away for around three weeks at a time, so you’re able to get a proper feel for the countries that you visit. I’ve also taken advantage of my location, travelling around Australia, Bali, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Thailand and Indonesia. My favourite places so far have been Tonga and the Great Barrier Reef.”

Dorota’s  Advice

“Anyone thinking about making a move should do it. Don’t be put off by the idea of living away from home. Time passes so quickly and before you realise it you’ve been away for seven and a half years. I have learnt so much and have been exposed to many more opportunities. Most importantly, I found out what was available and through that was able to make a decision about what I wanted to do. In South Africa, Risk Management has only just started, so I would not have been able to have gained this experience.

Most importantly, I found out what was available and through that was able to make a decision about what I wanted to do. Anyone that moves abroad will be guaranteed to have great experiences that will shape your life. It’s easier to put off the idea of moving and get stuck in one way of thinking, but if you want to be a good accountant you have to get out there and find out how different economies work. It’s important to remember that it’s not always about the first place you go, the experience at Macquarie was great but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. However, it led to me getting the job I wanted and now I’m happy and settled.”

Sydney compared to South Africa

“To any South Africans who may be thinking the countries are identical, they’re not. The tax system and the job specifics are different.  It’s not South Africa 2.0 so it’s important to have an open mindset and then go for it. The sense of humour is certainly different, South Africans are more direct whilst Australians can be quite sarcastic. The thing I miss about home the most is my friends but there are South African expat communities all over Australia which make it easier.

Australia and South Africa share similar climates. As a nation, they have a very outdoorsy way of life, with a big focus on activities like running and swimming. This is great for encouraging a healthy lifestyle and I’ve really embraced it, swimming in the mornings and doing Zumba after work. The move has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

We would like to thank Dorota and wish her all the best with her role in CommSec.Please get in touch with us here if you would like to discuss moving overseas with one of our advisors.