David Healy joined the HLB Mann Judd Perth Corporate & Audit Services division in 2009, and was promoted to Director in 2021. In this interview, David shares his thoughts on his career progression, how auditing has changed over recent years, and the impacts of COVID-19 on the profession.
Earlier in your career, why did you choose to work with HLB Mann Judd Perth?
When I started at HLB Mann Judd in 2009, I had been considering another higher level role, but I did my research on HLB and felt the training opportunities and direct access to Partners were far superior employment offerings and suited the career trajectory I was looking for at the time. I was working with another colleague in a corporate role who’d recently moved from HLB and he “sold” me on the firm based on the positive experience he’d had during his time with the company.
What difference did working at HLB Mann Judd Perth make to your career?
I believe working with the team at HLB Mann Judd over the past 12 years has helped me develop and access additional skills, for a number of reasons. Firstly, in my role within the Audit division, I’ve worked closely with clients across a broad range of sectors, the Partners at HLB Mann Judd also have an “open door” policy with staff at all levels, allowing for direct access into the minds of the firm’s senior leaders, which is invaluable for all staff members. I’ve also had an active role in training and mentoring staff members, and it’s been a pleasure to watch them grow and flourish in their careers. I believe all of these factors, in addition to my previous experience as a Manager within the division, have prepared me for the Director role.
Did you have mentors along the way?
Definitely. The mentors I’ve had at the firm have taught me how to lead and manage staff members, ensured I had an extremely strong technical proficiency, improved my interpersonal communication and presentation skills, and allowed me to adapt to the demanding and differing needs of clients from a wide range of sectors. Having direct access to Partners at HLB Mann Judd at every stage of my career has meant that lines of communication are always open – they are available and accessible for each and every staff member, and this is rare in the larger firms.
What benefits do you feel you received by rising through the ranks at HLB Mann Judd rather than one of the Big 4 accounting firms?
I feel I received more hands-on experience with financial reporting across multiple sectors and had the chance to work more closely with clients at a senior level than if I’d worked for a Big 4 firm. Gaining a full understanding of the Australian Accounting Standards, IFRS, the Corporations Act (20021), ASX Listing Rules and even my understanding of US GAAP have been vital for my career, and I believe I have this knowledge from being exposed to these areas whilst at HLB Mann Judd and having to adapt head-on. Building relationships with my clients and staff members has improved my listening and communication skills ten-fold, as I feel I’m very approachable and good at relating to other people. In my humble opinion, the client feedback I’ve received over the years suggests they like working with me as much as I enjoy working with them.
What type of education and training have you received during your career?
Like most who pursue an accounting career, I have a Business degree as well as a Chartered Accountants qualification. However, throughout my time with HLB Mann Judd, the education and training I have received has been a vital component, keeping me up to date with industry trends and new Standards. In addition to the various qualifications I have received, I’ve also had the chance to work with clients with operations in Australia, West Africa, North America, South America, Western Europe and throughout Asia. These diverse experiences have given me a wider breadth of knowledge and made me more qualified and more experienced, and taught me a wide range of lessons that I could never have received from a textbook. This can be a fast-paced, deadline-oriented and continually changing field to work in, so ongoing education and training is vital to adapt to the changing needs of clients and industry.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen as an Auditor since you began your career? How has the field changed?
Technology has had a major impact on the industry, and the demands of clients are ever-changing and increasing, and work is requiring completion at a much faster rate. Also, the requirements from corporate and industry regulators have massively increased since starting my career. By way of example, the new leasing accounting standard and estimates auditing standard has brought greater complexity to auditing, requiring me to have a greater understanding of my client’s businesses. As part of my training remit, I also communicate these changes amongst members of the Audit division at the firm, and educate relevant staff on new requirements and processes.
How has the pandemic impacted your work day?
The work itself has remained predominantly the same, but the manner in which we work has changed, even though in Western Australia we were relatively unaffected by COVID with almost no cases during 2020-2021. The firm remains prepared, with staff now able to work from home, we’re also using Zoom and Teams on a daily basis for meetings and as a way of communicating. Our senior team ensures they are available to all staff at all times, sometimes just for a chat to see how they’re doing – we’ve made it a priority that even though staff may be working from home and away from the office, that contact is still maintained – it’s important for our culture and the building and maintaining of relationships. More commonly, we are seeing clients request proof of vaccination as a matter of course for anyone who enters their premises and I expect this to become the norm.
What advice would you give to Graduates starting out in their Auditing career?
Taken from my experience, putting yourself in the position of constantly learning and soaking up as much information from those around you is important. Giving yourself access to the best minds and trainers in the business makes an enormous difference, as does gaining hands-on experience with your clients. Training staff helps you develop another set of skills, and also ensuring you keep abreast of changing Standards is very important.