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Tariq recently moved from Kuwait to Canada to be part of the exciting oil and gas industry in Calgary.
Student name: Tariq Maruf
Course: Bsc Accounting
Year of graduation: 2004
Current employer: KPMG
Facing brand new challenges both culturally and professionally, his colleagues wonder how he manages to get along with international clients and find common ground with almost everyone. Tariq attributes that life skill to his exposure at Cardiff University.
Why did you choose Cardiff University to do your BSc?
I had a friend in school who was a brilliant student back in Kuwait. When she was going to the UK she told me “go and do your research – whichever university you choose, make sure they have a five-star rating for the course that you want to do”.
Cardiff had that rating and when I asked her about it, she said, “Oh you’ll love the city – I’ve been there myself and I think it would be a good place to go”. I didn’t know anyone in Cardiff per se, but I heard that it was a good university with a good reputation.
I did a lot of research in terms of getting to know the place; what the university had to offer; how many students there were; how the course was structured, etc. I loved the course I did. Even looking back now, I remember doing the course on the Development of Accounting, a module in my third year. It was taught by one of the senior professors at the University and it was purely about how accounting developed, the history of accounting and how things evolved.
Tell me about your brand new career in the oil and gas industry. What are your responsibilities?
Before I moved to Calgary, I was working with clients from the retail and manufacturing sector and the questions I asked on a daily basis were ‘Is the inventory going to go obsolete?’, ‘Are they counting the inventory properly?’, ‘How are the sales going?’ and ‘How is recession affecting sales?’
Now that I have been referred to KPMG and am working with clients in the oil and gas industry, everyday it is more about ‘upstream’, ‘downstream’ and ‘royalties’. It’s a steep learning curve every day. It’s a completely different industry, the whole business model is different and the operations are different.
What sort of audit work do you do on a daily basis?
Performing financial audits serves one major purpose - giving credibility to the company’s Financial Statements. This could serve different companies in different ways. For example, it helps a private company when it is looking to be bought out or it goes public and gets listed on the stock exchange. When our clients tell their stakeholders that they’ve had revenues of X million and X amount of profit, we give our opinion as auditors commenting whether the statements are reasonable and if they are true and fair. We bridge gaps between the company and its stakeholders - investors, governments and tax authorities.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
My main role is the senior-in-charge of audit engagements. I’m not the one to initiate any client relationships but I do have to make sure that everything runs smoothly. The manager has ultimate responsibility for everything, but I am the person ‘in charge’ that the manager relies on and trusts.
It’s hard to stipulate what we do on a daily basis because it changes frequently. For example, we changed audit tool last week and we’re transitioning from the old package. We’ve had to go through training and sort out teething problems. It’s been quite a challenge to make sure that things get transferred properly, that the files make sense. So the past few weeks we’ve just been busy doing interim planning for the year end audits.
And what important lessons did you learn in Cardiff that you carry with you to this day?
Before coming to Cardiff I always lived in a very sheltered, protected environment in Kuwait. When I came to Cardiff I was like “wow, this is a different world”. I guess it was more of the social aspects that really struck me the most. It equipped me with how to live and to understand people on a social level. So when I started working with different people I got along a lot easier and my social skills improved a lot more. It definitely made me a different person.
So Cardiff University developed the social side of you?
Oh for sure. When I was in Ernst & Young in Kuwait, I was working with Arabs, Africans, South Asians and people from the Far East. I would be the one who would get on with everyone and people would be like, “How do you do that? What do you talk to him about?”
It’s about finding that common ground. It’s easier because living in Cardiff gave me that experience, without a shadow of a doubt.
What would you say to a prospective student from Kuwait who wanted to study in Cardiff?
Speaking to an international student, I would say Cardiff was the place that made me what I am today. Without a doubt! That says a lot in itself. The social aspects; the academic structures; the course; amazing professors and tutors that I interacted with and who I’m still in touch with. Speaking for my accounting course, I would say it’s extremely strong and that it gave me the technical skills professionally and the ability to think outside the box.