Julie’s Story: From Scotland to Melbourne – Overseas Accountancy Careers

Melbourne City

We assisted Julie to move from Scotland to Melbourne in 2008, where she still resides today. Since that time, she has moved out of audit and into a senior position in one of Australia’s Big Four Banks, working on some very interesting projects along the way. We recently caught up with her to find out how her experience and any additional advice she would give to professionals considering Melbourne as a location.

We recently caught up with her to find out about her experience and any additional advice she would give to professionals considering Melbourne as a location.

How the move came about

“I got a phone call (from Think Global Recruitment) asking if I would like to attend a recruitment fair in London after I qualified as a CA. I turned it down because I wasn’t interested in London but then they then said ‘well is there anywhere else you would like to work?’ and I said actually Australia and they then said we have an Australia specialist that we can we set you up with. I had some family there and I was over to visit when I was younger but had never really thought about living there but then it was brought up and Think Global Recruitment acted as a conduit of it.”

Moving over and settling in

“I ended up moving over in 2008 and have been living here since and I love it! The lifestyle is quite different to the Scottish lifestyle, it’s a lot more outdoorsy and the weather is a bit different – we still get winter but it was 15 degrees so not too bad for the middle of winter.

I guess I was a bit nervous about coming over. I had some relatives but I had only met them a couple of times. I didn’t have any friends in Melbourne and I had never worked in a foreign country before so I wasn’t sure where I was going to live or if I would like it. I also didn’t know how it would be being away from family or friends so I was pretty nervous about it but once the decision was made I just decided to embrace it. I was lucky when I moved as my firm brought in a few Expats at the same time from various places in the world. There were a lot of people in the same situation and the team was sociable, so making friends didn’t take long.

Melbourne at night

Accountancy is accountancy and numbers are a universal language. For the Scottish CA qualification and the English one, you’re trained in international standards which are what the Aussies use, even when they use Aussie standards they are built off the international standards so that wasn’t that hard to get used to it.

I decided that instead of living by myself to move into a shared house and I think doing that really helped me settle in because I was living with someone that had been in Melbourne for a while. There was also another person who had just moved down from Sydney and they didn’t know Melbourne so we were exploring it at the same time.”


Noodle Night Market in Melbourne, cred- By Chris Phutully

Life in Melbourne

“I think it exceeded my expectations and honestly it still does. There’s always something happening in Melbourne, there’s always an event on, there’s always something to do and see. The state of Victoria is huge so you can drive for a couple of hours and be somewhere completely different. I also think the sheer size of Melbourne still takes me by surprise – getting from one side of the city can take a few hours in traffic sometimes.

I think the reason why I stayed is because of the lifestyle – it’s far more outdoorsy, so you’ve got access to beaches and the warm weather. There are beautiful wine regions, which I’ve learned a lot about it since I’ve been here, the coffee is great the whole culture is more relaxed and chilled out over here.”

Professional highlights from Living in Melbourne

“I’ve had a couple of jobs since I moved out here. After six years I moved away from my first company and I went into an internal accounting role within another firm. One of my biggest achievements was to help them set up a shared services centre. It was an accounting firm with offices across Australia so I got to play an instrumental part in centralising the payroll, the accounting, the accounts payable and receivable and HR processes.

In my latest role, I’m working for one of the top four banks in Australia. I work in their group financial controls team and we’ve just been through a series of divestments. We used to own CYBG group (Clydesdale and Yorkshire bank in the UK) which we sold off last year which brought with it a lot of accounting and reporting complexities – so to be part of that was amazing as I learned a lot. They also sold 80% of their life insurance business and restructured their whole Australian banking reporting procedures and that was very interesting as well. I have really enjoyed all of my roles here as there always is something interesting going on, they’ve never been boring.”

Differences between Melbourne and UK

“In respect of office culture they are more relaxed around attire but the work ethic is amazing – people like to get the job done. People socialise a bit similar to home with drinks after work but on Saturday there’s also a good brunch culture over here. Food is a big part of the Melbourne culture, there’s a Chinatown, an Italian quarter, a Greek quarter and many other quarters to explore”

Wall St
Working abroad gives you experience in different markets

Advice for those considering a move abroad

“If someone was thinking about I’d say go for it. You can’t possibly explain in a few words why it’s such a positive experience but I would also say that you have to give it at least six months. That six months might be hard, you won’t know people but make it through that period then you’ll really start to enjoy it and experience it properly. I think it’s about experiencing something different than you would get in your own town. There is a shift in culture, not just in the workplace but outside of that. I think moving from such a far distance has really encouraged me to introduce myself to people, both personally and professionally. You don’t have a network so you have to create that network for yourself. It gave me the chance to work with much bigger companies. In my old firm in Edinburgh, most of the clients were UK based but over here the companies are more international. We report not just to the Australian Stock Exchange but to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the US to Luxembourg – so you’re gaining excellent experience.”

Julie’s Top 3 Tips for Moving Overseas

1)      “Give it the full six months.”

2)      “Make sure you have enough savings. Instead of £3000 bring £5000 because there will always be something you will need to afford. For example, when I moved here I needed to furnish my flat because most flats are unfurnished in Melbourne.”

3)      “Even if you’re only if you are only planning on staying somewhere for a couple of years make a real conscientious effort to travel every couple of months – even if it’s just for a long weekend. Make time to see other places as there is so much to see and do, you need to get out and travel while you can.”

Think Global Recruitment’s Service

“I might possibly not have gone myself so having you reach out with an opportunity was great. My consultant did everything for me, he found the opportunities, set up the interviews, coordinated the offers. It was all made very easy for me so I didn’t have any stress myself and now I imagine it’s even easier with new technology such as Skype.”


We would like to thank Julie for sharing her story and pictures and wish her the best for the future!

Please get in touch with us here if you would like to discuss moving overseas with one of our advisors.