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Alec Bashinsky - National Partner, People and Performance, Deloitte

Alec Bashinsky
'We will look at the individual before we look at the degree. We assess their capabilities and then find out if we can develop them internally.'

Working with the graduate recruitment program at Deloitte, a global professional services company, Alec knows exactly what graduates need to do to get ahead in their accounting careers. Deloitte has developed employment policies that are family friendly and help their employers manage multiple commitments. Flexible work practices include part-time roles, job sharing and working from home.

What sort of graduates are you looking for?

We will look at the individual before we look at the degree. Degrees are important but we also want a person who can conduct a conversation and potentially build relationships. We assess their capabilities and then find out if we can develop them internally.

You seem to place a lot of importance on social abilities. Is there still a place for technically gifted, but shy graduates?

Yes. Those people in many cases become our technical gurus or work in our e-business group. Lots of technical expertise is absolutely required in all areas but especially somewhere like tax where legislation and tax law changes are commonplace.

Do you offer the opportunity to travel with work?

This is certainly available. We’re a global company, in 150 countries, so we offer secondments both for people coming into the country and people leaving. We have people in the US, UK, South America and Asia. We have a global recruitment system – you can put your hand up to apply for a position in another country. We also offer a lot of Australia-wide opportunities and have just promoted someone up to Darwin.

What are you looking at during the interview?

One of the things that impresses us is good judgment, right down to their attire. We want them to present themselves in the manner of our business activities. That doesn’t mean an Armani suit, but it means they’ve researched us on the website for instance. They know what they want to do and where they want to go, and can ask questions that are relevant. It still comes down to communication and presentation skills and a genuine ability to be interested in the role.

Do you offer work experience?

We have work experience programs called Summer Vacation and Winter Vacation, where we take students from Year One or Year Two of uni and bring them in for six to eight weeks. It’s intensive – not photocopying – and they get involved with partners and work with clients, participate in business planning and with social activities. We had about 160 Summer Vacation students last December and I’ve got a feeling we’ve taken on about 80 in the winter period. We’re finding that 80 per cent of total graduate recruitment comes from those programs.

Accountants are in high demand – does this mean the sky’s the limit for graduates?

We don’t offer sign-on bonuses, because you’re automatically inflating the graduate’s view of where they sit in the market. We want level-headedness, so we don’t set unrealistic expectations at the start. We do the reverse and set realistic yet balanced expectations. People from Generation X and Generation Y will leave the firm after five or six years – or they’ll leave sooner as they don’t have strong leadership. People want communication, feedback and honesty, and this fits into our value, so we make sure there is development and also communication at all levels.

What are the working hours at Deloitte like?

As with all organisations, there aren’t too many people working 38 hours a week, but we want all our people to be able to integrate work and life. If you’re in a huge audit at a client you’ll work long hours for a period, but you’ll get a more balanced load when you finish. There are high levels and low levels of activity in all service lines.

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