From the very start, our firm has been driven by a strong culture of caring for our people and clients. As we build and expand our varying service lines we have attracted top talent that share our core values.
Seraphina Kim from New Zealand has joined our Crowe MacKay Team as the Director of Advisory Services working out of our Vancouver office. With more than ten years of experience in risk advisory, assurance and consulting, she brings a strong ability to understand her clients’ cultures and business needs. Her engaging personality, combined with a passion for her work, and commercial acumen heightens her skills and ability to offer clients sound risk advice. Coupled with her international experience, you can expect Seraphina to use all her tools to provide exceptional care and service to her clients.
My Youth in New Zealand
I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and in many ways, my hometown reminds me of Vancouver. Both cities are a melting pot of cultures and people are known for their friendliness and inclusiveness. I would describe myself as inquisitive, people-centered, and adventurous. Since a young age, my curiosity and interest in different activities led me to rock climbing, camping, playing the violin, basketball, piano, ballet, touch rugby, flute, skiing, golf and participating in various community groups. I enjoy learning about people, new cultures, and different processes, which is fitting as it is exactly what I do for work.
I graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor in Commerce, majoring in Accounting and Finance. During my studies, I spent many years on the executive committee of the Auckland City Youth Council working on long term strategies for the city and projects to support the youth of Auckland. As President of the Auckland University Commerce Students’ Association, I also had the opportunity to work with business leaders to help facilitate personal and professional development for Business School students including the interactive “Meet the CEO” events. These practical experiences allowed me to gain insight into how different organizations are governed and the sense of achievement I felt from successfully delivering a project through the collective effort of a team with wide-ranging skillsets.
Apart from my involvement with the University of Auckland, I was the second employee of New Zealand’s first peer to peer vehicle ride-sharing startup. I continue to be active in start-up communities because I think innovation is the driving force to a sustainable economy!
From New Zealand, I moved to Australia where I spent most of my professional career. I lived in Melbourne, which is a creative city that is full of art and culture, and then moved to Sydney which is a beautiful city with plenty to do including scenic coastal walks and exploring hidden bays.
The Risk Advisor in Me
Looking back to my youth, I can see the risk advisor in me. I recollect reading through the Commerce Students’ Association Constitution and thinking there needs to be more transparency in the work that we do. Accordingly, with the support of the executive team and consultations with the heads of Business School, we revised the Constitution to improve the accountability of our roles and responsibilities and the processes to manage the association funds.
In my penultimate year of study, I started my career in the external audit division at a Big 4 firm in New Zealand. I soon realized that I enjoyed the interim audits more than the year-end audits as there was a greater focus on process walkthroughs and identifying controls. That was what sparked me to move into risk advisory.
Learning Cultures, Building a Career
Based in the South Pacific, I was provided with some of the most unique experiences of my career. I had the opportunity to work with clients in the remote islands of Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Solomon Islands.
Interesting fact: Tuvalu is the least visited place in the world.
It was an interesting experience and made me realize how different organizational cultures can be. For instance, in one engagement we prayed and sang songs as part of an opening meeting. I also observed the contrasting ways that a government operates and the varying scale of what is accepted as ‘business as usual’. My work in these remote islands was eye opening, refined my skillset when reviewing different organizations, and I learned to be very conscious and aware of culture.
My Skill: Understanding Clients “Journey”
I specialize in risk management and performance improvement.
This means that I conduct reviews to identify the root causes and the pain points of an organization, then try to help them resolve these issues through our recommendations.
The root cause often comes down to a people, process, or a system issue.
The best part about my job is that each project is unique and I’m able to help my clients solve a problem. And that journey is most interesting for me. I enjoy understanding what matters to people, how culture impacts behavior, and how processes and systems support organizations to achieve their strategic objectives. This is a bit of a repeat– but I’m really passionate about the importance of understanding that ‘journey’.
Organizations have a journey of their own and we can’t help them effectively resolve an issue without understanding their full story - Where they came from, what they have been through, and where to next.
My History with Crowe
In 2015 I joined Crowe Sydney into a relatively new and growing risk advisory service line. I was lucky to have had this opportunity as I worked closely with the Partner and contributed to strategic planning and business development activities earlier in my career compared to my peers. The advantage of working for a mid-tier firm, compared to a big 4, is that generally you are exposed to a broad client base from a wide range of industries, and not pigeon-holed into one specialization/industry. Crowe is a global network with offices in more than 130 countries around the world. I have worked with clients and colleagues from Crowe UAE, Crowe UK, Crowe China, Crowe US, allowing me to learn leading global practices.
Working in risk advisory and management consulting divisions at Crowe, I have learned to be adaptable and flexible in my way of thinking. I have worked on a number of different projects including reviews of HR strategy, cybersecurity, budgeting, cash flow management, business continuity, disaster recovery, asset management, customer experience strategy, fraud management, digital transformations, compliance, process efficiencies, organizational governance, and change management.
More recently at Crowe MacKay, I have been working closely with our Director of Technology Services, Srinivas Rao, and we have some interesting projects lined up to support our clients in their digital transformation journey. This working relationship was built because of the needs of a client from our Calgary office requiring automation of processes. I have also been having regular phone calls with Crowe Dubai on a potential HR project, which has led to conversations with Alena Christie, Crowe MacKay Human Resources Manager.
Moving to Canada
Recently, I moved from Sydney, Australia to Vancouver, British Columbia to join Crowe MacKay. When the weather permits and I am not at work, I like to go for hikes and explore new routes. The mountains of British Columbia was one of the key reasons I was attracted to this city. In three months of living here, I’ve already visited Whistler, explored Fraser Valley, and visited North Vancouver, hiking Lynn Canyon Park and Cypress Mountain. As winter approaches, I am looking forward to skiing in the local mountains – I already have my pass!
Also, shortly after moving to Canada, I attended our firm’s Partners and Professionals conference in Edmonton, Alberta, which I really enjoyed. It gave me the opportunity to meet Crowe MacKay staff from Northern and Western Canada, and share our experiences and service offerings. It was a stimulating conference combining soft skills with technical skills, topped off by a Hockey game where I met the “God Father” and legend of Canada, Wayne Gretzky.
Moving forward with my career at Crowe MacKay, I’d love to grow the Risk Advisory service line, working with Crowe Global networks, and collaboratively with service lines across the firm, in particular, our Indigenous and IT Advisory services. I already see these three teams working together with the few opportunities we’ve been able to discuss. I am excited to use my skill set to the best of my ability to achieve these intertwined goals.
Photos are of Seraphina speaking at the University of Auckland on Innovation and a Sustainable Economy, her first sight of Kiribati, and in Queenstown, New Zealand