Women at BDO: A Discussion with Koraly Georgiou

This article was originally published as part of a 2020 series profiling Women at BDO.

At BDO, we're committed to supporting our professional women and driving their success. From graduates to partners, we help women build relationships and create well-defined career paths through networking events, coaching, and professional development opportunities.

To give you an inside look into what it’s like to be a woman in accounting – and at BDO – we conducted discussions with some of our most talented professionals. During the conversations, they discussed accounting and their experiences as women in business, from mentorship, gender-related roadblocks they’ve overcome, to the importance of diversity in leadership.

Below is our first interviewee - Koraly Georgiou, newly appointed Partner in the Melbourne Business Services Team.

Thanks for participating in this conversation. Let’s start off with a fun question. What do you like most about your position?

Having a seat at the partner table with so many amazing peers. It gives me the opportunity to give my contribution and bring a different perspective, but at the same time I feel that I can learn and grow by listening and taking it all in. 

They impress me with their experience, their contacts and their background- both professional and personal. They come from all different walks of life. It makes the job very enjoyable and exciting, and gives me comfort in knowing I always have someone to bounce ideas or issues off if the need arises.

Did anyone mentor you as a professional, early in your career?

Yes, I did have unofficial mentors early in my career. People who I could talk to when I was at a crossroad in life, and I could share ups and downs with. They may not have even known they were mentoring me – it was a gentle guidance and hand holding.

What piece of go-to advice do you give someone who is looking to start a career in this field?

Take opportunities when they are presented to you- and I mean really jump at opportunities, even if you don’t have all the answers or don’t think you have time to take things on. Some of my most fulfilling client relationships were formed when I was an intermediate accountant, more than 16 years ago, and didn’t think I could manage the client due to size or complexity.
Which brings me to my next point- make sure you have good support network - inside and outside the organisation. You’ll need that support internally daily however when you’ve had a really bad day, you may need to talk things through with someone and it may be best to seek this support outside the organisation.

Do you feel that you have made sacrifices personally and professionally? How do you find a work/life balance?

I have made many sacrifices along the way, it comes with the “professional services” territory. There are times when I have put everything aside to deliver on a client matter. However my rule is to work hard and be productive during my work day, so that when I switch my computer off at the end of the day I can turn my attention to my personal life. 
I feel it’s really important to have interests outside of work and to make time for those interests, with no excuses. When I have committed to something/someone I will fulfil that commitment, even if it means having to play catch-up outside of work hours (early morning, late night).

Why do you think that female leadership (or more diverse leadership) is important to the future of the firm?

Having diverse leaders (including female leaders) brings different perspectives to the table. They can be assertive, persuasive and empathetic when required. Women leaders generally tend to be inclusive, and have a strong focus on getting people on board so that they feel understood, supported and valued. It’s not to say that male leaders don’t have these attributes, however from my experience, it comes through more naturally in female leaders. It is important for the future of the firm as it will lead to retaining the right people, and also contributes to the longevity of the firm.

As the industry becomes less male dominated, do you feel like it will become less of an issue? Is there progress?

Gender-related road blocks are already becoming less of an issue, as diversity and flexibility continues to develop in the professional services world. The change in mindset needs to happen at the most senior levels of the organisation for this issue to change. We have come a long way, but there is still work to be done.

Thank you to Koraly for her time, and for letting us get to know a little bit more about her career so far!