Business Advisory Services Accountant LJ Crnkovic from HLB Mann Judd Perth shares his mentee experience in the Graduate Program.  

LJ discusses how Perth partner, Litsa Christodulou and the team, helped mentor him in his first accounting role out of university.

Litsa and LJ

1. How has Litsa and the team at HLB helped you?

LJ: Litsa and the HLB team have helped me right from the very first day by showing their can do attitudes and sharing their personal experiences about what they learnt on the job. When I started my graduate position, I had no idea what to expect in terms of who I could turn to and who would offer their help and support with all my questions. Right from the first day, I was made to feel part of the team. Everyone offered their help and were so friendly to me. Knowing that you have colleagues that believe in you and can rely on, really does make you feel like you can take on any challenge in the workplace. A supporting and friendly culture isn’t something that comes out of nowhere, it is a sign that the individuals who work within the organisation truly care not only about other people but about the business as well. They have all helped me by offering their full support and friendship which allows me to feel that I can thrive and grow within the organisation.

2. What is the most important thing you have learned from Litsa?

LJ: I think the most important thing I have learnt from Litsa is that to be a great accountant you have to care about your clients. Every day I hear Litsa talking to her clients and following up with them trying to attend to their needs. As accountants, our primary duty is to help the client and make sure we can provide them with the most effective service possible. Litsa has shown me that if you are dedicated and you care about your work, you will do what you can to make sure your clients are in the best position they can be.

3. Describe what it feels like to have a mentor?

LJ: Having a mentor is possibly one of my favourite things about HLB. When you start out working, you don’t really feel like you have a direction because there is so much new information to process. A mentor is there to reassure you that from little beginnings great things can happen. Having Litsa as a mentor has helped show me a direction and an ideal I can strive towards. It is rewarding being able to have someone to talk to who knows exactly what you are going through and not only shows you how to improve but also share their experiences with you, which gives you so much insight on how to think in the profession. I feel extremely honoured having Litsa as my mentor. I want to strive to be the best I can be and having a mentor who was voted the most client-focused accountant in the country makes me proud knowing I have someone with such vast experience mentoring me in the right direction.

4. Tell us something that you didn’t expect to learn from Litsa and/or your colleagues?

LJ: Most people have a preconceived view that accountants are dull and boring. Working with Litsa and my other colleagues has blown me away at how fun and enjoyable they are all to be around. There is honestly never a dull day in the office no matter how busy it is. I never expected after finishing university that my workplace would be such a fun environment to be in.

5. How is this advice and support helping your career?

LJ: Even though I am still quite new, the ongoing support I am receiving from the team is helping me spread my roots in the ground. University does not fully prepare you for day to day work so having sit downs and chats with Litsa sharing her experiences is helping me achieve a strong foundation. I cannot expect to be an expert in the field straight away, however, being around the support and advice from Litsa, I believe I can grow both professionally and as an individual to progress through my career and make wise decisions.

6. Do you think that the support you’re getting will benefit your clients, if so, how?

LJ: I absolutely think the support I am getting will benefit my clients for many reasons. My seniors are highly attentive to details and by having them and Litsa around, I am developing positive habits of being highly attentive to detail. While at the same time I am being given the ability to start early interaction with clients. This is expanding my interpersonal skills professionally as you are not really given training anywhere else on how to behave and speak to clients. One of my earliest memories was when Litsa first gave me the opportunity to send an email off to a client, even though it does not seem like much, the fact that she supported me by letting me know that my email was good and did not require editing made me feel like I was learning and that I was entrusted with getting the job done. I think this gradual early client interaction lets clients get a feel for the people who are there to assist them. This grows professional relationships between the clients and the accountants. This relationship is crucial to being able to offer and provide the client the best service they can get.

7. What has Litsa and/or your senior colleagues learned for you?

LJ: Like a lot of other graduates, I came with no practical accounting experience out of university. I believe through the willingness to work and care to detail I am showing, that graduates should be given a chance and that we can be entrusted to do the job.