Achieving the perfect balance

10 Mar 2021

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to appreciate the small things and that a good work-life balance is key to a healthy mind. 

This month, we caught up with Azam Aziz, one of our managers in our audit team, to understand more about his GE journey so far, how he has managed to balance work and family, especially in the last year, and his goals for the future.

1. What do you enjoy most about your role and GE?

Working at GE has been really rewarding. I joined as a graduate trainee six years ago and due to the support of my colleagues, in a short amount of time, I was promoted from junior to senior, and now manager of the Audit team. 

I like the fact that my role is varied and is not simply about the accountancy work. I get to work closely with both partners and clients and get involved in wider issues in the business, such as tax planning, restructuring, etc. This also means I get to collaborate with different teams within GE, which keeps the job interesting and means I’m always learning.

The other huge benefit of working at GE is the part you get to play in the future of the business. There are several committees that are run by employees and which focus on different aspects, such as recruitment, employee wellbeing, charity and local community, IT and socials. I’m a member of the Talent Circle Committee. GE is committed to continually improving and establishing itself as one of the top UK accountancy firms, being part of these committees is one way you can have an impact on the future development of the firm.

2. Have you always wanted to work in auditing? If not, what motivated you on to your current career path.

I always thought accountancy was a good path and audit fell into my lap as part of my search for ACA graduate schemes. 

Since then, I’ve found that audit has been a good way to really understand different sectors and industries. No two clients are the same, meaning every job has different challenges and gives you the opportunity to learn from different business owners, enabling you to continue to build on your own knowledge and skills.

If you have sound understanding of the principles then you can apply these in different ways depending on the client. Whilst the audit base is the same, each client has different systems, different processes and different controls. Sometimes you need to think of creative ways to audit the figures and try to add further value. 

3. Why did you choose GE?

I was always looking for a mid-tier firm and was not interested in being at a Big4 firm. I felt that at a mid-tier business, the role would be much more varied and holistic as opposed to being siloed into a specialty or a particular sector, which has definitely turned out to be true. 

Because of this, I can work on different projects, allowing me to get a clearer idea of what part of my job I enjoy the most and can therefore focus on. Something that, especially for someone early in their career, is extremely valuable. 

4. What do you enjoy most about working at GE?

I’m sure I’ve heard this in a children’s story, but the firm is not too big and not too small – it’s just right! Because of this, you know everyone and feel like you’re part of a family. The people at GE are really what make the firm special.  

5. What have been your biggest challenges so far?

My biggest challenge has always been balance. Whilst I was training, striking a balance between the full-time work and studying was difficult, because outside of office life I was also heavily involved in voluntary work within my community. 

Now, the struggle is very different as it’s being a father to a newborn! However, the GE Partners and my colleagues have been very flexible in my hospital visits and my new, night feed friendly working hours. 

6. What are your goals for the future?

I found that personally my career ‘goals’ are driven more by my desires outside of work rather than simply wanting to climb up the ladder. If four holidays a year, a nice house and aiming to send my child to private school means I have to aim for the top, then so be it!

7. What advice would you give others that are seeking to pursue a career in auditing? 

Audit. It’s not for everyone! Just make sure that it is really something you don’t mind doing day-in, day-out. Having said that, I could not think of starting off with a stronger base than in auditing. You understand how businesses operate and gain valuable insight into their systems and controls as well as good business strategies when you are involved in higher-level work.

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