Gaining more by giving back

James Footit

10 minute read

James Footit is a Graduate Consultant in the Finance and Performance team at Deloitte. He recently secured a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science (Psychology) at The Australian National University (ANU). During his time at University, James worked in restaurants, bars and went through a brief stint as a butcher.

In this interview, James discusses his career path, summer school exchange at the London School of Economics and the valuable insights he gained at the ANU College of Business and Economics (CBE).

Q. Can you tell us about your career path and what led you to the role you're in today?

I moved to Canberra in 2016 to study a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science (Psychology) at ANU. Through the CBE Internship Program, I worked with Canberra Cavalry,  a professional baseball team in the Australian Baseball League, where I was a Marketing Intern. I managed their social media and came up with new and interesting marketing material for fans. I then volunteered as a Consultant in the 180 Degrees Consulting Program. We were tasked with helping the Australian Community Transport Association with their governance framework and corporate structure. That opportunity sparked my interest in consulting and gave me a small glimpse into the industry. It then led me to Deloitte, where I was offered a Graduate role within the Finance and Performance team.

Q. As a graduate consultant at Deloitte, what professional challenges do you face and how do you navigate through them?

The biggest professional challenge I face daily is being able to effectively communicate with colleagues and clients. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been enormous, and the key challenge that I have had to face is moving all contact and training to a virtual space. Being adaptable and willing to learn about new technologies to still be able to perform my work to a high standard is key to navigating my way through these challenging times. Another challenge I face is being able to think creatively – it is a constant struggle to stay innovative and creative consistently, especially when there are so many tried and tested methods. A method I have used to hurdle around complacency is to have a change in scenery every so often. Having the flexibility to switch work environments has cleared my head space and helped with critical thinking. Another way is to constantly seek feedback and collaboration from others, in order to test your ways of thinking. 

My degree and subjects were very practical and applicable to
real-life settings, which provided me with a good foundation heading into the financial world.

Q. What values did your summer school exchange experience at the London School of Economics (LSE) add to your studies and personal development? 

Attending LSE was of massive value to my professional and personal development. I studied a three-week intensive Marketing course, which allowed me to gain greater insight into the types of analytical and structural thinking that is taught overseas. It allowed me to view the world differently in both a marketing and study sense. The way the course was taught had a lot of practical examples that were very relatable to me, and the constant interaction between students and faculty made the experience very enjoyable. It also provided me with a new skillset that I was able to offer to my current workplace. Having studied finance and psychology, I had very minimal opportunities to study subjects outside of my degree. This was a great chance to challenge my own thinking, whilst building up a new skill that I can use on a daily basis.

Q. For a number of years, you have volunteered in the fundraising sector. What motivates you to participate and can you share a volunteering experience that inspired you?

I continuously want to serve the community and help out others wherever I can. Throughout high school, we always had events that looked to support charities and organisations to help those who were less fortunate than ourselves. This mindset carried over into University and my professional career, and it is always important to help raise money or awareness for good causes.

In particular, I have been very heavily involved in supporting the National Breast Cancer Foundation. My mum was unfortunately diagnosed with it three years ago, and it was an extremely difficult time for our family. It motivated me to think of ways I was able to help: Raising awareness by wearing pink as much as possible, entering the Sydney Marathon to raise money and also partaking in the Annual Mother’s Day Classic, which enhances visibility for those suffering from Breast Cancer.

In order to test your ways of thinking, constantly seek feedback and collaboration from others.

Q. Can you tell us about your experience with CBE’s flagship MomentuM program and how it could benefit students as Mentees? 

Unclear of what my post-graduation life was going to look like, I applied for the MomentuM program, as I thought being mentored by an industry professional would be a great boost for my career and confidence. My mentor was Gary Rake, who was the Partner of the Finance and Performance team at Deloitte in Canberra. We would meet up fortnightly to discuss my future goals and aspirations, whilst also providing tips and tricks for looking to enter the workforce. My experience was extremely positive, and I felt I was placed with an individual who was very well suited to me. When we discussed the type of work that Deloitte did, it opened my eyes to a very new and intriguing world, and it made me very interested in becoming a consultant. We would also discuss how to communicate in the workplace and skills that I should look to learn that would be beneficial in the future.

Given the nurturing experience I’ve had with the CBE MomentuM program, I would like to be a mentor in the future, as I would like to provide guidance and experience with university students looking to enter the workforce. It was a very positive experience for me, and I would like to give back.

Q. How did your degree at CBE prepare you for your career? 

My degree helped me in understanding the fundamentals of finance and accounting. It allowed me to be able to read balance sheets, income statements, as well as carry out financial formulas. It also laid the base for being able to interpret and analyse financial models and being able to appropriately explain key concepts to other clients or colleagues. In particular, with my later year subjects, they were very practical and applicable to real-life settings, which provided me with a good foundation heading into the financial world.

James will be speaking at the ANU Alumni Class of 2020 Series. Click here for more details. 

The ANU College of Business and Economics offers an extensive range of specialised programs. Click here for more details.