Date posted: 26/03/2018 3 min read

Making it in New York City

Australian CA Ashleigh Miles challenged herself, took a chance on New York City and won a role in the biggest US real estate project ever – Hudson Yards.

In Brief

  • Ashleigh Miles does accounting work for Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate development in the US.
  • With a background in insolvency and restructuring, she received multiple job offers after moving to New York in 2016.
  • A typical day can range from preparing consolidated financial statements to meetings with heads of different departments.

What do you like most and least?

I love that I get to be part of an iconic development in New York City from the ground up. It has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and what is interesting about working on a commercial property that has transitioned from development to operational is that you are exposed to a wide variety of issues during the transition. The long hours and complexity of the accounting I am doing is tough, but you can’t expect to get to the top without working hard and challenging yourself. 

When you chose accounting, where did you expect to end up?

I always knew I wanted to live and work overseas and it didn’t take me long to realise New York was my chosen city to progress my career. I love that there are so many different fields of accounting and being a CA helps me explore that. I feel proud to be preparing and issuing the financial statements of a multibillion property to our investors, which is a huge responsibility.

How did you find yourself there?

Moving to New York was always part of my grand plan. After completing my Bachelor of Business in Accounting, I worked in insolvency and restructuring for over five years. Following this, I took a six-month contract at a global company to develop my financial reporting skills before the big move. I quit my job, packed my bags and moved to New York by myself in October 2016. After three months of interviewing, I managed to receive multiple job offers from different companies. I decided on the financial reporting role at Related Companies, due to my keen interest in real estate and the fact that I was selected for the Hudson Yards file. 

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What is your current position?

I am the accountant at Related Companies for the operational properties of Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States. The position required over four years’ experience and is considered the most challenging file the company has ever seen, due to its complex company structure. Once the commercial properties transition from development to operational, my position involves completing monthly work papers, consolidating financials, preparing three-way financial statements, investor reporting and the annual audit. 

What does your typical day look like?

A typical day would include approving invoices to ensure correct general ledger coding on the income statement or balance sheet, performing a reconciliation of intercompany balances between nine entities within the group, participating in  a meeting with heads of different departments and preparing consolidated financial statements on three different bases (GAAP, IFRS & Modified Accrual).

Would you recommend an overseas posting? 

Absolutely. I think a lot of people discount the US because of the visa process, the perceived work-life balance and the fact that the US is GAAP-focused. What people don’t realise is that the E3 visa offered to Australians is very quick and easy (renewable indefinitely), the work-life balance depends on the company and IFRS experience in the US is in demand. I would encourage CA members to research the different visas offered to Australians overseas and not wait for an opportunity. Seek it out. All it takes is guts and a little self-belief.

Related: Serjit Singh CA on life as a tax lead in Kuala Lumpur

Serjit Singh CA is the tax lead for four Asian countries with Royal Dutch Shell in Malaysia and says no two days are ever the same.