UQBS graduate travels far with transferable skills

13 Sep 2010
For UQ Business School graduate Kalan Douglas, degrees in business and economics have paved a career path spanning two continents. After growing up in Casino in Northern NSW, Mr Douglas moved to Brisbane to pursue further education at the University of Queensland. Once he graduated in mid 2007, Mr Douglas became a management consultant with multi-national firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in their Brisbane office, helping finance and technology departments from large firms improve their profitability and overall efficiency. “UQBS helped me develop the core skills which secured an internship with PwC in my last semester of university, which ultimately led to a full-time job after my graduation” he said. “Our day-to-day work can be quite varied, but at a high-level we help to solve complex management problems for blue-chip clients like BHP and Parmalat.” Mr Douglas stayed with PricewaterhouseCoopers for almost two years, but decided to take a leave of absence to travel Europe with his fiancée to experience life outside of Australia. “With the economy slowing in Australia it was a great opportunity to take a break from work, and PwC supported my decision whole-heartedly.” But after six months into his trip, work came into the equation when he was hired by another multi-national consulting firm in London as an analyst in the financial services sector, despite weakened economies worldwide. “Work in London is conducted on such a larger scale than here—the firm I worked with had nearly 10,000 people in London alone whilst in comparison PwC Australia has about 5000 to 6000 people across the entire country,” he said. “It wasn’t uncommon for some of the really big banks to involve us in consulting projects worth tens of millions of (British) pounds. It was a fantastic opportunity to gain exposure to projects of that magnitude which do not happen in Australia as regularly.” “Such a large talent pool in London also meant that the people I was working with had such niche skills- some of the consultants around me had 20 years of experience specific to particular products within investment banking- such micro level skill sets also aren’t common in Australia.” Apart from the interesting work, Mr Douglas said the best part of living in London was that “it is such a central European hub so nearly every country on the continent is accessible”. “We flew to exotic locations like Iceland, Malta and Turkey just for the weekend, which there really is no equivalent of here,” he said. But after his foray into the world of financial services consulting, Mr Douglas has returned with even more expertise to take up a senior consulting role with PricewaterhouseCoopers. “In general, the work in London was similar to what I had been doing here with PricewaterhouseCoopers, but just so much larger in terms of project value,” he said. “But we’re very busy at the moment; the economy here is much stronger than the UK, and with the mining economy booming again and my skill set moving more towards a stronger technology base, finding interesting projects to be involved with is definitely not difficult.” After all his adventures, Mr Douglas said it was the knowledge he gained while studying with UQBS combined with ‘a bit of luck’ that helped him gain such valuable international experience and further his career in consulting. “Having UQ, which is one of the top 50 universities in the world and PricewaterhouseCoopers on my resume helped, and the skills I learnt at UQ are internationally transferable and recognised,” he said. “I was lucky that the firm in London had pinpointed their IT consulting practice as a growth area, which meant I could slot in there quite easily.” Now living in Kedron, Mr Douglas plans to continue working for PricewaterhouseCoopers, marry his fiancée, and enjoy spending more time with family and friends. “It was not so much an economic decision to come back, but a life decision. We missed all our family and friends, and PricewaterhouseCoopers here offered me great work and a promotion to come home,” he said. “We like Brisbane - it’s one of the best cities in the world in one of the best countries in the world. After all of my travel, I realise I really do love Australia. It’s definitely home.” Media: Kalan Douglas (0406 974 384), Amanda Sproule (0435 553 225) or Cathy Stacey (07 3346 8068).