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The Value of Secondments: Personal, Professional and Commercial growth

The Value of Secondments: Personal, Professional and Commercial growth

Doriena Parsons

Career development in professional services has been a conversation of much debate in recent years. With fewer young people choosing a linear career path and applying different values to their professional identities, professional services firms have had to pivot accordingly and do it quickly. As a result, secondments are becoming a staple strategy for employers to augment professional and personal growth.

Moore Global has an active and thriving secondment network among its member firms. With offices in 114 countries (and counting), there is a plethora of opportunities available for professionals looking to diversify their experience.

The post-pandemic years have seen a careful revival of secondments, and in 2023 Miranda Lack, Audit Senior at Moore Australia transitioned from her home-base Brisbane office to the verdant landscapes of Moore Markhams in New Zealand. In the same year, Noel Lam, then Audit Senior, exchanged his familiar Perth environment for the counterpart member firm Moore Singapore, while Roger Teo, Assistant Manager at Moore Singapore swapped the tropical climes of Singapore to the more temperate shores of Moore Australia’s Perth office.

Why choose to go on secondment?

For Miranda, the motivation came from a mixture of desire to travel and explore, as well as professional growth. After not being able to travel for a number of years due to the pandemic, Noel viewed the secondment as a much-needed breath of fresh air, and a chance to extend his audit skills in a fresh and challenging environment.

Roger’s motivation was rooted in enhancing the cohesive operations of the network, seeking to build bridges across offices and cultures.


“Our firm already has an established bilateral connection with Moore Australia. We work closely together on a number of clients, and the secondment was a great opportunity to learn more about the working methods in Australia, build my skills and experience a new culture and country.” Roger Teo


Managers’ support

Support from above can make or break these experiences. Miranda spoke of her manager's role in orchestrating the transition, ensuring it was more than a mere shift in location but a tailored growth opportunity. "My manager was instrumental. In fact, they highlighted the opportunity to me, outlined the potential and benefits and ultimately encouraged me to take it”, she said. Noel echoed this: “My manager proposed the opportunity and helped me consider all the sides. His encouragement throughout has been fantastic”.


Soft landing

Traveling to a new country can be daunting at the best of times. The host firms play a critical role in softening the landing of secondees. Although Noel already knew a few people in Singapore, the culture shock was quite real. “Many things were familiar, but the differences came from unexpected angles. From the pace at which people walk to the speed at which you must decide what to order at the take-out, life is just so much more fast-paced in Singapore. Moore Singapore were fantastic though. They assigned me a buddy who showed me everything at work and helped me through. There were team lunches to help me get to know everyone and the partners had an open-door policy.”


What about the ‘home front’?

Secondments come with a big, family-sized caveat: secondees are physically separated from their friends and family for the duration of the secondment. The role of personal support networks cannot be overstated. Roger mentioned he is the first in his family to be given an opportunity of this scale. “Of course I missed them, but their backing has been tremendous. They recognised the opportunity and the long-term benefits. We kept in touch through video calls and social media regularly, which really helped. If they hadn’t been so encouraging, I don’t believe I would have done it,” he said.  

Equally, the impact on family shouldn’t be underestimated. Miranda lives with her mother in a Brisbane suburb, and the secondment meant leaving her mum for three months. “Letting go was quite hard for her, though I suppose it always is for parents. But ultimately, she saw the opportunity for what it was and both her and the rest of my family were excited for me.”


Bi-lateral learning

Upon their return, the secondees have become conduits of fresh perspectives and practices to their home firms. “After I came back, I sat down with a number of people at my firm to discuss what I’d learnt, where the synergies are and how these could benefit the firm”, Miranda mentioned.

All three secondees completed their secondment with a thorough de-brief at their home firm. Roger commented: “I have learnt so much about different methodologies and working practices. The perspective it has given me on our own firm’s operations is invaluable. I’ve loved seeing what we do the same and what we do differently, as well as discovering the ‘why’ of those processes.”  

Noel discussed virtues of stepping out of one’s comfort zone and embracing the learning curve. “Even if we don’t use all the things I’ve learnt, it certainly offers an opportunity to challenge the status quo and re-affirm why we operate in certain ways.”

Shaun Williams, Noel’s line manager and Audit Partner at Moore Australia acknowledged there is real commercial value in allowing staff to go on secondment. “Even though you won’t have access to that staff member for a certain period of time, the wealth of experience and knowledge they come back with offers tremendous value to the business. They will have experienced different operating models, working styles, communication methods and will have grown personally. Bringing their learnings into the business offers us a unique outsider perspective and consider how and where we can make changes to serve our own clients better.”


“Even though you won’t have access to that staff member for a certain period of time, the wealth of experience and knowledge they come back with offers tremendous value to the business.” Shaun Williams


How did your secondment help your career?

When asked about career advancement, there was a unanimous sense of affirmation. Noel believes his secondment experiences will make him a better manager and leader in the future: “Aside from the obvious workplace experience and different clients, I’ve become better at communicating and transferring knowledge and information.” 

Both Roger and Noel appreciated the opportunity to sample new industries and clients. “Thanks to the secondment, I’ve worked with clients in industries in which my own firm does not currently have a presence”, Roger confirmed.


“I’ve become better at communicating and transferring knowledge and information.” Noel Lam


Advice for aspiring secondees

When asked what their advice would be to someone considering a professional secondment all three paused for a moment but unanimously agreed that a both-feet-in leap is the ultimate approach.

Miranda confirmed: “Just do it! It's an amazing experience. I believe it provides many great opportunities and experiences, both personally and professionally. You will experience different personalities and clients, new industries, different working methodologies, new cultures and so much more. It really gets you out of your comfort zone.”

On the whole, all would agree secondments are more than a recruitment marketing gimmick. The opportunity offered by their firms, the support throughout the process on both sides instilled in all of them a great sense connection to their own firm, but also to the Moore Global network as a whole. Miranda agrees: “You really feel you are part of something bigger, and when your manager is the one who helps you identify the opportunities, it truly speaks to their commitment to help you grow.”

Secondments offer real, tangible benefits both personally and to the business. For senior executives pondering value of secondments, the stories of Miranda, Roger and Noel underscore the comprehensive advantages – from cultivating a global mindset to fostering firm-wide innovation.

Moore Global is a network of independent advisory firms and the 11th largest professional services network in the world. With over 37,000 professionals in over 114 countries, there is always an office near you. Find out more about our global network here.