Alexandra joined QAO’s Audit Analytics team in the 2020 Graduate Program and has learnt a lot in the last year, working with data from almost every client. In her first year at QAO, she has progressed from checking data and identifying issues to developing solutions and writing scripts. She describes the work as interesting and varied and says there is always something new to learn. We asked Alexandra to share her experiences and advice.
How did you learn about QAO?
I first learnt about QAO through the Queensland Government graduate portal. I had studied mathematics at university and didn’t think I would have the right qualifications to be an auditor, but my degree qualified me to work with Audit Analytics. After seeing a QAO graduate position available, I did some research about the organisation. The values resonated with me and the role sounded like it would include interesting work.
What was the graduate program like?
There was a lot of learning. In the first week of training, we got to know the other graduates, learnt the basics of auditing, met our new co-workers and were assigned a buddy. I had limited programming experience when I started, so I spent my second week of training learning basic programming. Once I learnt that, I could help do data checks.
Every new task was clearly explained to me and someone was always more than happy to help me. It was a steep learning curve, but I was never overwhelmed because there was always support if I got lost or confused. I was gradually assigned more complicated work, and as a practical learner this was a great way for me to learn. We also had monthly grad forums to discuss what we had learnt, ask any questions, and receive information.
It was a steep learning curve, but I was never overwhelmed because there was always support if I got lost or confused.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Tasks regularly change on a day-to-day basis, but the most common task I have had is data checks. Audit Analytics created an application, the FA App, that standardises and displays finance and payroll data for a lot of the entities QAO audits. There can be issues with the data received or the scripts created, so a lot of my day involves investigating why these issues are occurring and cross-checking with the source data. Through this process of checks I gained a pretty good understanding of the source data and what each part of the scripts are doing.
One of my other main tasks has been preparing two new finance and payroll systems to be standardised in the FA App. This involves writing scripts to create tables in the FA App. It can be a time-consuming process because the data might be spread across multiple tables, and we need to be careful not to exclude or duplicate any of it.
When I started, I was responsible for looking at duplicate records and identifying why they were occurring. I would then let someone else in Audit Analytics know and they would fix the issue. Now, I work on more complicated checks, identify issues, and try to come up with a solution. I’ve written scripts, which has both contributed to and benefited from my work to identify and prevent issues occurring, and I’ve worked on data modelling.
I have learnt so much in such a short amount of time. I find everyone is willing to explain things (often multiple times) or work through an issue with you, so I’m still learning lots every day.
Would you recommend working at QAO, and why?
I would definitely recommend working at QAO. It is a progressive organisation that is always looking for the best way to do things. The environment is very supportive and encouraging, which makes asking questions really easy. Whenever I get asked to do something that I’m not sure how to do, there is always someone I can ask who will walk me through the process. The work is interesting and varied, and there is always something new to learn. The office space is open plan, so it feels easy to approach and talk to more senior colleagues, and it makes collaborating easy.
I have always felt included and supported, especially through COVID-19. A lot of care and effort went into making sure we were as connected as possible and there was someone regularly reaching out to check in and see how we were going.
It is a progressive organisation that is always looking for the best way to do things. The environment is very supportive and encouraging, which makes asking questions really easy.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to a new graduate?
The best piece of advice I would give would be to ask questions. This can be hard sometimes, especially if you feel like you should know the answer, but when I started it felt like everyone I spoke to was encouraging us graduates to ask questions. All the encouragement helped make it a lot easier to ask because it felt as though it was expected—and it is. With any job there is a lot you need to know how to do, and people don’t know what you don’t know (or have forgotten!) if you don’t ask.
All the encouragement helped make it a lot easier to ask because it felt as though it was expected—and it is.