Francis Chen

Country: China 
Degree: Bachelor of Commerce
Faculty: Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

How’s this for a great result?

Francis Chen took the courageous step of leaving his family in Shanghai, China, to pursue his dream of studying commerce in Australia.

He flew into Adelaide just four days before his first lecture at The University of Adelaide, and proceeded to pass with flying colours for the next three years.

He’s now an auditor in Grant Thornton SA’s audit division – and through his work he gets to return home to Shanghai, to use his bilingual skills in servicing the company’s Chinese clients.

"I encourage students and parents who have visions for the future to undertake overseas study – it gives you a life-time experience."

It widens your eyes, enhances your personal abilities and gives you a lifetime experience,” he says. “When you look back in 20 years, you will be proud to tell your kids that you came overseas all alone when you were 20, and it’s been a successful and precious experience that others will never have.”

Francis believes it’s not just the overseas studies that have helped his career (although he deliberately chose The University of Adelaide because of its international prestige), but the overall ‘experience’ of living in a foreign country.

First of all, it strengthened my ability to live and think independently, and it also helped me to understand the thought processes of a professional in Adelaide,” he says.

As opposed to a new employee who’s fresh from overseas with the same amount of experience, those who have studied and lived here for a few years would certainly be at an advantage in terms of quickly adapting to the working environment".

Chow Yee Koh, Grant Thornton Australia’s Manager of Audit & Assurance Services (and Francis’s boss) agrees that international graduates have a lot to offer Australian firms. “International graduates bring diversity to the workplace, resulting in an exchange of culture which broadens the cultural understanding of local Australians. This is extremely helpful when dealing with clients from other countries,” he says. International graduates also generally speak at least two languages, which is another major benefit in dealing with clients with overseas subsidiaries.

Francis is now aiming to complete the CA (chartered accountant) program as soon as possible and hopes to stay at Grant Thornton for a number of years to gain experience in work with a diversity of clients from different industries.

And he still has a bit of South Australia to see.

“I love hanging out with friends at the beach or going to the Adelaide Hills. Adelaide is a travellers’ destination, with nice beaches and a blend of scenic views from the hills.”