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EY New Zealand

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Zayad Khawaja

Hi. My name is Zayad Khawaja. I’m also known as Zee. I’m an Associate Director in the Assurance team in Auckland. I have been with EY ever since I left university (and EY lifer so to speak!). I started with EY in 2005 in Wellington as a graduate, before moving back to Christchurch and was there for four years prior to moving to Auckland in 2010.

6.30 AM

Good morning
I’m usually awake by 6.30 am…I try my best to not snooze my alarm. But I love sleeping! I generally take a long time to get ready, so I usually have breakfast on the way to work (I love my toast and peanut butter). I have recently gotten into the podcast craze and look forward to listening to a podcast this morning.

8.00 AM

Getting ready for the day
Most of the time, I start my days off at the office. I have my action points set from the day before so have a reasonable idea of what’s in store for the day ahead (though I’ve learned to always expect the unexpected!). I love to start my workday by skimming through my emails with a cup of tea (breaking the usual coffee addiction!).

8.30 AM

Technical training
On any given day, my schedule will completely differ. Every month we have technical training updates around NZ IFRS. This has a combination of self-learning prior to the session, and then a summary on the day presented by our FAAS team (Financial Accounting Advisory Services). Despite the virtual world we continue to move into, nothing beats the engagement you have from a face to face classroom type session.

day-in-a-life-ey-zayad-khawaja-work enter

9.30 AM

Counselee Meeting
At EY, all Managers have a number of colleagues that they are responsible for in terms of career development and general wellbeing, referred to as counselees. The counsellor/counselee relationship is one of respect, trust and confidentiality as it’s a forum to discuss just anything…whether it be the performance, upcoming opportunities, any issues (whether personal / work related) that have arisen. I have been very fortunate to have a number of fantastic counsellors over my time at EY and this has really been instrumental in getting me to where I am today.

day-in-a-life-ey-zayad-khawaja-counselee meeting

10.30 AM  

Audit planning meeting
Every audit engagement has an internal planning meeting to help ensure we set up the strategy of the audit correctly. These meetings involve all staff levels right from the Partner to the graduates. The key aim for the meeting is to discuss key risks around the audit engagement and our strategy to deal with them. 

day-in-a-life-ey-zayad-khawaja-with team

12.30 AM   

By about 12.30 pm, whether I’m out at a client or in the office, I’m usually pretty hungry. I’ll try my best to have lunch with colleagues in our work clubrooms. I genuinely love the people I work with and lunchtime is a great opportunity to touch base with each other and break up the pressures of the day. 

1.30 PM 

Graduate Recruitment Planning 
A part of my role is graduate recruitment for Assurance. With graduate recruitment comes a lot of planning ahead of the next campaign to ensure we meet deadlines for applications, interviews and assessment days. 


2.00 PM

Client meetings
At my level, I’m frequently attending client meetings. This is an opportunity to discuss important matters with EY clients and ensure that we are meeting all deadlines. 

3.00 PM  

Audit file review
A large part of my role includes review of the audit engagement. This is typically done in a number of phases. As a junior staff member in Assurance, you can expect to be out at clients almost 80% of the time. As you get more and more senior and the number of roles you play become more diverse, the time out at clients typically reduces particularly given the oversight and quality control role you start to play. But that doesn’t take away from the importance of spending time out with teams at client sites and ensuring they are receiving adequate coaching to aide with their development. 

6.00 PM - 7.00 PM

Time to unwind
Best I can, I usually try and exercise three times a week. I’m not so much a fan of the gym, so typically this will involve some sort of sport. My go to sport is badminton. It’s increased my fitness tremendously and feels nice to run around after a long day. I also am part of an EY football team that play once weekly. We have both a men’s team and a mixed team to cater for all skill levels. In addition, we have been very fortunate in recent times to have gym style classes run at EY on a daily basis. I usually go to one class a week and they are fantastic!