At a glance
Lessons sometimes reveal themselves in unusual ways. Paritosh Deo CPA learned the importance of adaptability after struggling to keep up with the laundry required for New Zealand’s unpredictable weather.
The young accountant was on a secondment from PwC Fiji, where each day begins with a shorts and-flip-flops wardrobe decision, and says he soon discovered that, in New Zealand, it did not pay to be lazy on washing day or you would be left feeling cold.
On a more serious note, all the challenges of relocating from Fiji to New Zealand – from meeting new people, fitting into a different culture, a new workplace, a faster pace of work and a different form of commute, right down to basic living skills such as his laundry – rewired Deo’s thinking.
He discovered that broadening his perspective could be an advantage, and he extended that into the way he processed his thoughts at work. The two-year secondment also inspired self-reflection on the personal growth needed to achieve his career goals.
Working abroad was life-changing for Deo, particularly because the offer had come at a time when he was questioning whether accounting was the profession for him. He’d also been considering migrating to another country. This opportunity meant he could put all those thoughts to the test.
“Things can be really hectic in a large accounting firm,” Deo says. “The work hours are crazy, there are a lot of demands on your personal time, and you have to be really resilient to survive.”
Being an accountant wasn’t always at the top of Deo’s career aspirations. Physics was his first love, but limited opportunities, particularly in a small Pacific Island country, prompted him to redirect his path to the more stable and diverse finance sector.
Deo graduated from the University of the South Pacific in 2007 with a bachelor of arts in accounting, financial management and information systems. He also left with a hat-trick of gold medal honours for being the most outstanding arts graduate in business and economics, the most outstanding graduate majoring in accounting and financial management, and the most outstanding graduate majoring in information systems.
Despite his impressive achievements, Deo remains humble and says he simply lives by the motto of doing his best. It’s an attitude he has towards everything he does, including sports, and it earned him a place on the Fijian under-15s and under-17s national soccer teams.
“My thinking is, if you’re going to spend time doing something, why not do a good job of it? Otherwise, you’ve just wasted that time you’ve spent doing it,” Deo says.
Deo joined PwC as a graduate accountant, working his way up to assistant manager in Fiji, before his secondment to PwC New Zealand in 2013. Upon his return two years later, Deo was appointed manager and director. In July 2020, aged 34, he was made partner.
“It was a proud moment for me to have made it to partner,” Deo says, “No doubt I had to work hard, and there were sacrifices along the way, but I guess working hard has paid off in the end.”
Deo has had many mentors along the way, including his father and older brother, who have both had successful accounting careers. The small PwC Fiji office has provided him with experience in industries ranging from manufacturing and consumer goods to retail and financial institutions. He’s worked with multinationals, listed entities, privately held entities and not-for-profits.
A change in approach
Starting out, Deo was introverted, which he says served him well on the bottom rungs of his career, but began to limit his prospects further up the ladder.
When Deo was a trainee, one partner described him as being “like a bird”, quietly building his nest without anyone noticing, until suddenly the finished nest is revealed. He urged Deo to change this approach, but it would be several years before Deo understood what he had meant.
The time in New Zealand honed Deo’s self-awareness, and he learned to identify the things that made him take notice, as well as where his motivation lapsed. He came to realise that the bird analogy had been valuable advice to improve his communication with clients and managers.
Keeping people informed builds trust and provides reassurance that everything is on track and that there won’t be any unexpected issues to deal with at the eleventh hour.
However, making a deliberate shift in his personality to be more outspoken was not easy. Initially, Deo felt he was trying too hard, or being someone he wasn’t. He persevered and, with the support of PwC’s partners who provided opportunities for Deo to speak in front of others, he improved.
“I believe one of the most important tools in the armour of a partner is to go out there and be able to communicate with impact,” says Deo. “I don’t speak for the sake of talking, but when I do speak, it is to share things of substance. This was not about faking it, it was a genuine effort to build a skill that would enable me to thrive in the profession.”
Deo works closely with PwC’s new graduates and says career prospects are good for young accountants in Fiji.
“I like to see the younger graduates in our firm challenge themselves and realise their full potential, rather than take the easy path and be mediocre.”
One piece of advice
When I was a little boy, about eight or nine, my dad sat me down and told me this quote: “All that you do, do with your might. Things done by halves are never done right.” It has stayed with me. I believe in giving your best shot at everything you do.