While it has not been easy Christchurch is emerging as an exciting, spontaneous and challenging place to live and work. And it’s not just us that thinks so, Lonely Planet recently described Christchurch as one of New Zealand’s ‘most exciting cities’ (Jan 2012).
Traditionally the most English of NZ cities, Christchurch is superbly located as the gateway to the South Island. Nestled on the coast and only on hour from the magnificent Southern Alps, Christchurch has a lot to offer. Weekend’s are enjoyed exploring the hinterlands of Christchurch; from the beautiful wine country in the Waipara Valley or the French inspired Akaroa to whale watching or swimming with dolphins, it is all just on the doorstep. If it’s something more adventurous you’re looking for then skiing or boarding on the many skifields within an hour of Christchurch is a great way to while away your weekends. Not even the earthquake can dampen the kiwi culture of getting out and making the most of what life has to offer.
Christchurch is now on the road to recovery and as Canterbury business reinvents itself, exciting and unique opportunities exist for Chartered Accountants to make a real difference and play a tangible role in the rebuild of Christchurch.
Zowie Murray, Chartered Accountant from Southampton in the UK moved to Christchurch in 2010. Here she talks about her life and career in New Zealand’s most English of cities.
What made you move to Christchurch?
This should be “who” not “what”! The answer being my husband. He came out to NZ on holiday 10 years ago and decided then that this was where he wanted to live! He loves the outdoors and everything that NZ has to offer is right on your doorstep.
For me, the move to New Zealand wasn’t such an easy decision, leaving my family, friends and a good job. It was a big decision which I was nervous about. But I needn’t of worried the people in NZ are so nice. They are so genuine and friendly and really made me feel welcome.
What does your role involve and what work experience have you gained from working in Christchurch?
I worked for a big four firm in the UK as an auditor, mainly working on large listed clients as component auditors for overseas parent companies. When I moved to NZ I took a similar role within a reputable mid-tier firm. This gave me experience in a very different size and type of client base, and the challenges that small-medium practitioners face. I found I quickly got promoted to Audit Manager, responsible for a team of four to appraise, train and mentor. I worked alongside the directors of the firm on a number of projects, and regularly had input into managers and directors meetings. I also became the technical “go-to” person for all auditing and financial reporting queries within the firm. I now work for NZICA as the Audit and Assurance Specialist on the newly created Technical Services Team. This allows me to use my technical abilities to help others. It would have taken me a long time to gain the breadth of this experience if I’d stayed in the UK.
What has surprised you about Christchurch?
I have been able to design and build my own home which I would never have been able to do in the UK. I am also surprised about the amount of spare time I have now, which I get to spend with my husband!
On the topic of the earthquake, Christchurch has surprised me how resilient the city and the people are – truly inspirational. The remuneration is not too dissimilar to the UK, but the cost of living is cheaper. We have a much better quality of life here, and feel happier and healthier, I think the amount of sun helps keep those blues away!
What would you say to people thinking of moving to Christchurch?
Don’t be put off by the earthquakes! Recent events have actually created a lot of opportunities here in Christchurch, especially in the job market with people moving away. It also means that Christchurch has a very unique opportunity to start from scratch and create something amazing, and local businesses are keen to be part of the rebuild and have brand new offices designed to specification. Even with the central business district out of action, there is still so much else to do.
How would you sum up living and working in Christchurch?
There is a really good work-life balance. Everything is so accessible which makes life that bit easier. The malls are ideal for one-stop shopping and the Post offices and banks are open all day on a Saturday!!! Also living so close to a few ski resorts means that I have had the chance to take up some new hobbies that I would never have dreamed of doing.
In terms of my career, I feel really valued and appreciated as an employee. I actually contribute to the strategic direction of an organisation, instead of just being a resource allocated to a task.
Working with each of the major employers of CAs in Canterbury NZICA SmartMove have exceptional roles and packages available for individuals wanting to return to their home city, or to those individuals wanting to move to New Zealand and be a part of the rebuild of Christchurch.
For more information on accounting opportunities in Christchurch visit http://www.icaewjobs.com/employer/11076/smart-move/