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The Benefits of Globetrotting as a Way of Life

PassportJapan, China, Turkey, Italy and the Czech Republic are just five of the 23 countries I’ve visited during my ten years as a CPA in the forensic services arena. In a world that has become increasingly connected, more and more CPAs will find themselves working with clients whose interests and connections lie in one or more countries around the world. Although I’m based in PwC’s Forensic Services practice in Washington, D.C., globetrotting has become a way of life for me.

I believe that international business experience can be a significant enhancement to a CPA’s skill base—and my travel has been personally enjoyable as well. If you’re interested in discovering new places and broadening your career opportunities, here are some things to keep in mind. 

Have your passport ready. When I started with PwC, I was immediately drawn to forensics. After completing some initial assignments in the United States, my Director asked if I had a passport. Since I did (and it was current), he immediately sent me to Dublin to work on a contract compliance engagement. Beginning with that first trip, I learned quickly that by being on the scene, I could establish a personal relationship outside of work with the U.S. or international staff.

Embrace the culture and experiences of the country you are visiting. I often get asked if I have any personal time on my business trips, and the answer is yes! I have many fond memories of my travels and experiences.  When I was in Korea one Thanksgiving, a local colleague I had worked with for two years apologized for not being able to serve me a turkey dinner. Instead, he invited me to Korean barbecue at his home, which was a welcome alternative. I was introduced to mulled wine and other Christmas customs when I spent one Christmas in the Czech Republic, and I was able to visit the Amalfi coast of Italy on my post-Christmas break. My first taste of Indian food, in Mumbai, was a revelation. I liked it so much I now often cook Indian cuisine back home in D.C.   

Although my travel itineraries are often jam-packed and leave little time for personal fun, I always make an effort to try and incorporate a cultural activity into my agenda. It’s part of the experience of working abroad, after all.

Bet on the future of international business. In the 10 years since I started working at PwC, the importance of global acumen has increased significantly. Smaller companies are already conducting business around the world, or want to get started. I believe that international business expertise will become a base skill, no matter what area of practice a professional may be in or even if they never leave the United States. CPAs increasingly will need to understand issues and various risks in international business.

Speak up. If you’re seeking to work internationally, make sure your support networks know. Tell recruiters, your boss, your colleagues and anyone else in your network about your interest in working overseas. This will help increase your chances of an opportunity coming your way.  When I started out, I actually spent a lot of my time doing administrative work for our team in the D.C. office, which helped me to get my foot in the door and my name on the list for travel assignments.

My experience working abroad broadened my skill set and increased my ability to adapt in situations. How will travel and work abroad fuel your career? The only way to find out is to jump in and try it. I guarantee it will offer you a new perspective on your professional life and on the world around you.

Marc Filer, Manager, PwC. Marc has approximately 10 years of public accounting experience.  His practice focuses on anti-corruption/FCPA matters, including internal investigations, compliance program assessments, and due diligence.  Marc has worked on anti-corruption/FCPA matters in over 25 countries and has experience in pharmaceutical/medical products, manufacturing, industrial products, retail and consumer, hospitality, and the oil and gas industry. 

Passport image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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