From grad to partner – Jason Daubney’s audit career comes full circle

Jason Daubney started with us as a young accountant straight out of university. He still remembers his first day as a fresh-faced graduate at Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Auckland in 2011.

Time to read: 4 mins

Many of the partners now were partners then and he impressed them sufficiently that he eventually became an audit and assurance senior manager and was selected for a couple of overseas secondments. The work was stimulating and the sightseeing was every young man’s dream.

After nearly 10 years, he left to work at another audit firm, but now he’s returned to our Auckland office as an audit and assurance partner – an aspiration which began the day he started with that team.

“I knew the partners around the table and was excited to work for them again. It’s nice to get recognition of the hard work you put in, and particularly from an organisation where you had left, and they still value you and want you to come back.”

It’s been an interesting journey. Jason’s left his comfort zone multiple times and thrived. He’s conducted audits in the bright lights of big cities – those being his four-month secondment in Vancouver, for our Canadian affiliate Wolrige Mahon LLP, and three months in Melbourne, working for our Australian affiliate, Pitcher Partners.

During the former, he wandered around Vancouver and made his way down the United States in his leisure hours, skiing and exploring. In Melbourne, he journeyed along the glorious expanse of the Great Ocean Road and visited local attractions, among them the city’s many outstanding restaurants.

“I loved it. Working with different teams and partners and having different experiences really helps your technical skillset, and living somewhere else is good for your life skills and personal skills. Secondments give you the benefit of doing an OE (or exploring your own country) while continuing to advance your career.”

Now that he’s a Dad, overseas travel has taken a backseat while he juggles a rewarding career with family life and his love of fishing and sports. He and his wife are kept busy with their children, aged one and three, and often sail the Hauraki Gulf with his extended family.  

He also likes it when the audit team gets together for a lunch or celebratory drink. The camaraderie is rewarding, he says.     

Jason has worked with many public and private organisations across a range of sectors and like all quality auditors, he’s learned to be pragmatic and good with people. This means working with clients to understand the intricacies of their business and its technical needs.   

His “no surprises” approach means clients know what to expect, and he understands the importance of communicating well and listening to one another.     

“Auditors are generally nice people and we want to provide exceptional service to our clients. But sometimes, there is an expectation gap that we need to bridge through constructive discussion with them.”

While auditors are known to be a meticulous bunch, the current economic environment means they’re having to apply even more professional scepticism to the judgements and estimates made when preparing financial statements.

This can be seen is in the evaluation of clients’ impairment and going concern assessments. They are challenging areas that don’t stack up, such as an overly optimistic growth forecast of 20% if the GDP has only been rising at 0.2%. Or considering whether management’s future plans are feasible and likely to see them through a bleak period.   

Ultimately, they aim to ensure that shareholders receive accurate information on which to base any upcoming decisions.  “Our job is to go in and give stakeholders the comfort that what they’re seeing is true and fair,” says Jason.

As a seasoned auditor, he also gets to see young audit and accounting grads embark on their own careers, then enjoys watching them develop and progress.

He’s come a long way since he was one of them, and wouldn’t change a thing, saying he highly recommends auditing to anyone interested in becoming an accountant pursuing the profession.

“Auditing is a fantastic place to begin your career. You get to understand every aspect of a business from their front-end operations to board level discussions. It gives you a strong foundation and opens the doors to so many different aspects of the corporate world. You can go beyond professional services or move into different service lines, or work overseas. It’s a great launch pad.”

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