In 2007, we assisted Liana to make the move from Australia to Qatar. Ten years on and she is still enjoying her life out in the Middle East. Recently, we caught up with her to find out how she thought the international move has been for her career.
Why did you originally decide to move overseas?
“There were a few reasons, I wanted to travel and see lots of different places and I also wanted to get international tax experience so I could be more versatile. I saw the opportunity as an adventure and the chance to get experience from around the world rather than just getting stuck in Australian tax.”
Did you have any concerns with moving overseas?
“I was a little bit worried about how I would cope with the heat. But I was young and enthusiastic so I was able to jump into it.”
When you arrived in your location how long did it take you to settle in?
“It took me around three months, but a lot of it depends on your attitude. You can’t expect everything to fall into place straight away, you have to put in some effort. You need to go to turn up by yourself to sports or other social clubs and just introduce yourself to people. But once you get used to that it’s amazing. It’s really cool to have friends from all over the world.”
Did your move meet your original expectations and how?
“I had done a lot of reading so I knew what to expect but it did change a lot after I arrived. When I first moved there Qatar was still quite unknown, none of my friends had even heard of it. Then it got bigger with ads on television, Qatar Airways sponsoring football teams and now they’ve got the world cup! From a professional perspective, it was a good time to move as the country was experiencing a boom. There was a lot of construction and both inbound and outbound projects to get involved with.”
What was the biggest benefit of moving?
“There are a lot of benefits including easy travel, but the biggest is probably the money. I’ve almost paid off a house I bought in Melbourne, and there’s no way I’ve would have been able to do that working there. You get paid in US dollars instead of Australian dollars and you don’t pay any tax, so if you don’t spend it all, it’s like making three years of savings in one.”
So now you’re living in Dubai do you notice any differences between there and Qatar?
“Qatar has a much tighter Expat community, you’re more likely to run into people that you know, or if someone mentions a company you’ll know somebody working there so it’s a lot more intertwined and great for business but recreational activities are limited. On the other hand, if you want to take kite surfing lessons or a pole dancing class you can easily find obscure things like that in Dubai.”
What were the highlights of your location?
“When people come over to visit you can always make them feel like it’s an amazing holiday. You could go to a beach club, drink cocktails and enjoy the sun. They cannot believe that is a normal weekend for us. You miss your family and that never goes away but when you’re making the decision you have to weigh up all the pros and cons.”
What culture differences did you notice?
“I’ve been away for over 10 years now, so the cultural differences are more apparent when I visit Australia. I have to remember not to reserve a table by leaving my iPhone and wallet on it. It’s great to be able to have a cheap glass of wine in a café too, but if I see people kissing in public I still get a shock and shake my head at them.”
What is your current job title?
“I’m currently the Head of Tax for an international seismic company. I get to work quite autonomously and travel to some random countries which have been awesome. Some of my favourites have been Greenland, Namibia, Liberia, Myanmar and Brazil, usually either to meet with the tax authorities or our advisors.”
What, in your opinion, are the advantages of working overseas in terms of gaining future employment?
“You get a lot more international involvement – I’m now used to dealing with tax authorities in a lot of different countries and all of the different implications of cross-border projects. I feel like I understand more how tax systems are supposed to and intended to work, and it means I can challenge the advisors and the authorities themselves on the interpretation of their treaties or legislation. You can get a lot of wins for your company that way, I guess it’s just a question of whether I can convince a future employer of that!”
What advice would you offer to Accountants thinking about working overseas?
“It can be difficult to start with but if you’ve got the right attitude and you’re ready to face the challenges then it’ll change your life and the way you look at the world. Also, make sure you find the right role.”
How did Think Global Recruitment assist you in securing your job overseas?
“You did amazing – you talked me through all my different options and helped me with the interview and then on my first Australia Day you sent a big care package, I was excited to have some Tim Tams and Twisties!”
What are the advantages of applying for a job through Think Global Recruitment?
“It’s virtually impossible to find a job in the Middle East without a recruiter if you’re not actually over here. You rely a lot on networks and friends, which is why having you guys helped so much. It’s really hard to get your foot in the door because you are competing with every single person around the world. Jobs advertised online here get thousands of applications so you probably won’t even get yours read without assistance.”
We would like to thank Liana for sharing her story and wish her all 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.