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Partner Pages 2020: Meet the future of the industry


Feb 4, 2020

By Lauren Evans, Bachelor of Commerce student, Bond University, Queensland

Welcome to Partner Pages: a magazine made up of stories from the Xero Partner community, for the Xero partner community and shared as part of Roadshow Australia each year.

What better way to discover how to attract future talent than by learning first hand from the future of the industry. From searching for career longevity to carving out a space where they can truly be themselves, today’s graduates are tech-savvy, socially aware and ready for change. 

So meet Lauren Evans, a Xero Learn student who’s here to teach you a thing or two about what she’s looking for in an employer.

It wasn’t a love for numbers that made me want to study accounting; it was a knack for problem solving. Maths was never my strongest subject at school, but when I decided to take accounting, something just clicked. I was hooked.

One thing my studies have taught me is that the industry has undergone a massive shift in the last decade. Even during the few years I’ve been at university, we’ve watched a profession that was once considered a bit boring (though never in my opinion) embrace the latest in new technology. It’s an exciting time to be entering the workforce.

A career worth keeping up with

These days, you hear horror stories about how what we’re learning in class will be obsolete by the time we make it to the office. As I get ready to enter an increasingly fast-paced industry, I’m confident that the Xero Learn program is equipping me with the skills I need to walk straight into an accounting role.

The thing is, I don’t want to be sent straight to the mailroom to take care of admin once I get there. As grads, we’re looking for positions that will give us hands-on experience across a range of different areas, because those early years are vital to gaining an understanding of which disciplines we’ll one day want to specialise in. 

Continuing a life of learning

More than just a job, what we’re looking for is a genuine career pathway. That means asking questions like, “Will my first role act as a stepping stone to where I want to be the future?” If not, there’s no point in investing our time. 

Xero Learn teaches us to be lifelong learners, and that’s something I hope to continue as I make my way into the industry. With the way technology is evolving, many interesting things are happening right now. I want to be part of a working culture that really embraces those changes rather than shying away from it. Our generation is at ease with innovation, and we want to be part of an organisation that isn’t afraid to keep up.

The new way of working

I think the main thing graduates are looking for from an employer is trust. And with that comes flexibility – if a workplace trusts you to get the job done how and when you want (within reason of course), then employees will give a lot back in return. 

If I had my own practice, I’d start by creating a positive and inclusive environment for everyone involved. It’s always daunting being a grad in the workplace, so I’d pair senior leaders with new starters to mentor them and pass on the knowledge that they’ve acquired over the years. 

Key to this is approachability, which is why I’d operate with a minimal hierarchical structure. This would be combined with a collaborative environment where staff have the opportunity to work across different projects that suit their interests. Ultimately, I’d want every single person to feel like they can communicate freely with each other, from the intern to the CEO.

These are the kind of initiatives that won’t only help attract future talent, but will also ensure that current employees remain engaged, challenged and feel supported.

The future of the industry can be a bit of a contentious topic. I know there are people who are worried that digitalisation will replace our jobs, but new businesses and industries will always be evolving – which means there’ll always be a role for advisors. That’s why connecting and forming genuine relationships with clients is so important. 

The way I see it, there’s a lot to look forward to.

Five ways you can attract future talent:

  1. Make time for mentoring: Senior team members have so much knowledge and experience, which is why we look to them for valuable one-on-one guidance. 
  2. Offer experience in different departments: As a graduate, it’s hard to decide on which area to specialise in without exposure to different disciplines.
  3. Fit in with flexible working: Having the option to work how we want, when we want (within reason) makes us feel trusted, and we respond well to that.
  4. Embrace equality: Not only is hiring employees of diverse backgrounds and capabilities incredibly important to recruiting talented people, it also makes for a diversity of ideas within the workplace.
  5. Host wellness initiatives: Work-life balance is key, and offering fitness classes or discounted gym memberships is just the kind of incentive future talent is looking for.

A Xero expert says:

Today’s students know that the industry has changed, and that technology has changed with it. The first thing they want to know when they look for a graduate role is, “Is this firm up-to-date? And are they using the latest tech?” All of which presents our partners with a really exciting opportunity to embrace innovation. If not, future talent will simply look elsewhere to find a practice that’s up to speed.

Melissa Rankine, Xero Learn AU Lead, Xero 

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