Women at BDO: A discussion with Natalie Milne

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 celebrate International Women’s Day and to give you an inside look at 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, and the importance of diversity in leadership.

What do you like most about your position?

It gives me that nice blend of interacting with staff and clients and the ability to really put my mind into work. I enjoy the balance of being able to apply tax law and still work on complex challenges. The role has a good balance of interaction and the deep-thought work. We also work with young people and are a diverse and young organisation. Deep down I think that helps keep me young!

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

It’s funny, I did not realise that women and men look at problems differently. It was only when I sat on the exec board that came to light. I was helping make those bigger decisions within the firm and it was apparent that I see things from different angles, having that female perspective is really important. I also don’t always look at it from the financial perspective, I look at it from the people aspect and I try to take myself back to 10 years ago and how that would make me feel or how that would impact me.

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

I don’t think we are becoming less male dominated. In tax we are finding it hard to attract the female work force. I think people are now self-selecting and thinking that it is a hard industry. It scares me that we do not have the diversity any more. There is progress that we were starting to see more female leaders but I am now not seeing that. When we had graduates apply we used to have a 50/50 split of female and male, however it is now very male dominated at a junior end. Something that we may be facing soon is that the industry is no longer attractive to females and how do we re-message that this is a good career path for females.

How has COVID-19 changed the way you work, now and into the future?

COVID-19 has offered a great opportunity for the leaders of the office to understand that we can work from home. This brings greater flexibility for females in the workplace to be able to better juggle activities such as dropping kids off at school, where as in the past if you had to attend a kids assembly you would almost have to take the day off or work a half day. Now you have the ability to drop the kids off at school and be at home ready to work, instead of the commute into the office. It now allows that flexibility to use the travel time with your family. The positive of COVID-19 was the flexibility it afforded to all staff and it proved to management that we can work from home.

What do you think the future of accounting looks like? And what are you looking forward to in the future for your own career?

The future probably looks a lot more flexible and with more adaptation to technology, which will simulate working environments to include working from home. I am really excited for workplace flexibility and how our day-to-day now looks. I also think some of the work that we will be doing will be a value-add, which gives us better opportunities to build better relationships with our clients. Lastly, I look forward to the people I saw start as graduates become partners! One of our young graduates is now a part of the management team. My future career is exciting and I look forward to listening to what they have to say and learning from them.