Bachelor of Commerce (First Class Honours, 2017)
Ben is a Manager in EY’s consulting practice in business transformation. He designs and executes transformations across various sectors, including government, health and consumer. Ben collaborates with clients to understand their most complex problems and co-design fit-for-purpose solutions through programs of work.
Prior to joining EY, Ben was an elite athlete who competed for Australia as a swimmer for more than 10 years, developing resilience and invaluable experience in high-pressure environments. He won six International medals, including Gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Bronze at the 2015 World Championships and Silver at 2018 Commonwealth Games.
16 FEBRUARY 2022
Please tell us about the process of being promoted from a Graduate Consultant to Manager at EY. What has been a key lesson along the way?
Having a career in sport and completing my university degree through part-time study meant that I joined EY as an experienced graduate, with unique life experience. I leveraged my personal traits – resilient and hardworking, with the ability to manage pressure, quickly understand complex problems, and contribute to high-performing teams and deliver high-quality work. I focused on developing trust with senior team members and building my personal brand for operating beyond rank expectations, taking on additional responsibilities and always being the calmest in high-pressure situations.
As with most things in life, timing and opportunity is everything. At each rank, I jumped at career defining opportunities when they presented themselves, and pushed myself to step up. This came through leaping at opportunities to work in a more senior role on a project, being trusted to design and deliver on high-pressure projects, and by juggling multiple responsibilities at once. As a Consultant, I was on a project reporting directly to an Associate Partner and working to an executive-level client. As a Senior Consultant, I delivered critical work on a number of occasions, took initiative in building additional opportunities and led a significant business development pursuit while working full-time on another project. These key career moments, were supplemented by consistently delivering high-quality work, being engaged in team recruitment, contributing to team events, and personal learning and development.
Moving through different ranks has presented its own challenges. However, the jump to Manager has been the most challenging, but also the most rewarding. As a Manager, you are required to set direction, manage client relationships, lead teams, delegate tasks, review work and deliver work. The role is incredibly multi-faceted and changes depending on project team structure. This made me realise the value of building skills at different ranks, and identifying learning opportunities in everything you do. Even the simple formatting tasks are fundamental to learning attention to detail. This is critical to delivering high-quality work, building trust with your team and excelling at your rank.
As Manager, what three things would you go back and tell yourself as a Graduate Consultant?
- Be patient, but be ready – not every opportunity will be a perfect fit or the experience you are seeking. This is a constant and requires resilience and consistency to build skills. However, when all the stars align, and the right opportunity is there, dive head first and work hard.
- Your leaders don’t have all the answers – as a Consultant, it can be frustrating when a project lacks direction, or you end up doing work that gets scrapped. However, problems and clients are complex, and it takes time to work through options and solutions, and then provide direction. Understanding how you can best help is critical, whether it be by stepping back, developing alternative ideas or being a sounding board.
- Seek balance – balancing life and work is critical to longevity, enjoyment and continuing to deliver good work. It certainly isn’t easy with working from home, the ‘always on’ culture or when you’re ambitious, but it is so important for your health and wellbeing.
How did you balance your academic and sports commitments while studying at ANU?
Studying part-time was the only way I could have a degree of balance between sport and university, and meet my expectations in both fields. Given my sporting commitments, I often studied remotely, and thankfully ANU was supportive in being flexible in assessments, exam dates and due dates.
As I was so dedicated to my sport, there were often times I struggled to prepare as much as I should for exams. I had to prioritise assessments if multiple were due within a certain timespan. I progressively identified my learning style and focused on continually improving how I learnt to make efficient use of my time. I also believe this helped me prepare for time-sensitive or ambiguous work experiences. It taught me to find perspective and focus on the important elements that would deliver the most impact.