This quarter we are featuring Darren Cook, an accounting assistant, in our Team Member Spotlight! Darren is one of the newest members of The Shealy Group; he joined our firm in February of 2020. Darren moved to the United States from Australia in 2016, and he has previous experience working with financial departments at various organizations both there and here in the U.S. He is completing his BA in accounting at the University of Akron, and will graduate this year, with the intention of also sitting for the CPA exam. Darren has been a wonderful addition to our accounting team.

Darren is part of our seasoned accounting team, and he helps prepare business and individual tax returns, as well as with maintaining financial records and producing reports for several clients in Accounting CS and QuickBooks. He also works directly with our CPAs to contribute to year-end reporting processes for our clients. His honed financial skills and diligent work ethic are very valuable to our accounting team.

Darren and I recently connected to discuss his experience at The Shealy Group:

Angie: Now that you’ve been working at The Shealy Group for over a year, can you tell us what has been your favorite part of your role?
Darren: I love a challenge and learning new things. I love the flexibility of my role; no two days are ever the same, and it keeps things interesting. One of my favorite parts of my role is creating customized financial statements for our clients. Thinking back to when I first started working at The Shealy Group, it’s awesome seeing how far I’ve come, and how much I’ve learned from the amazing group with whom I work.

Angie: Do you have any advice for young professionals entering their career in the accounting field?
Darren: My best advice for anyone looking to enter their career in the accounting field is: don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible. Also, don’t get too caught up on your mistakes. Everyone makes them, it’s just a matter of learning from them and doing everything possible to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes again.

Angie: Was there anything about working at The Shealy Group that surprised you? Is the role what you expected?
Darren: When I first started at The Shealy Group in February of 2020, it was right before COVID-19 hit. It was definitely a challenge learning my role and the computer software remotely. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started; I wasn’t 100% sure what my role would entail, and I don’t think my role was really set in stone when I first started either. This has been great, as it’s helped me to learn lots of different things, and I’ve been able to assist in many different ways.

Angie: You came to the United States from Australia; do you have any practical tips for making the transition from another country, especially with regard to becoming a successful young professional?
Darren: It’s never going to be an easy transition making a move to another country. You definitely need a good support system (whether that be family, friends, or a spouse), to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible. My best advice is to do thorough research about whether your degree from the other country will fully transfer over, or if you haven’t yet graduated, ensure as many credits will transfer over as possible. I had to essentially start my degree from scratch when I moved here, so looking back, I could have planned better, and checked if more credits would have transferred over at a different college.

Angie: What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
Darren: It would definitely be fishing. I’ve loved fishing ever since I can remember. I can blame that on my Dad, there are photos of me as a 1yr old sitting on a river bank next to a big brown trout he caught. I do also love anything outdoorsy, so I’ll take any opportunity to be outside. It’s so green in Ohio, and I love that. It’s completely different to Perth, where it’s dry and grass struggles to grow because there’s so much sand from being right next to the ocean.

Angie: When you were a kid, what did you want your adult profession to be?
Darren: Interestingly enough, for years I dreamed of being a gold prospector. I loved reading history books about the Western Australian gold rush during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The gold fields of Western Australia were something that I always found intriguing and I wanted to make my fortune digging up big nuggets. Gold prospecting is still on my bucket list!

Angie: Is there any local food or tradition that you miss from Australia?
Darren: I definitely miss Australia Day (January 26). It’s the most patriotic day Australia has to offer (for good reason – it’s the official national day of Australia). Aussie meat pies are a national icon, you can’t go wrong with one on Australia Day. I’m yet to find a meat pie in the United States that is comparable to ones from Australia.

Angie: Where is the best place you have ever traveled to? -or- What is your dream vacation destination?
Darren: The most interesting place I’ve ever traveled to would probably be Phuket, Thailand. I went with my family years ago. It’s a truly beautiful place, with incredible snorkeling and exploring to be had. I was able to snorkel with leopard sharks which was awesome. My bucket list destination would have to be Alaska. Ever since I was young I’ve wanted to visit Alaska to fish for Halibut and salmon, and explore the natural beauty.

Darren has been a great addition to The Shealy Group team. We’re anticipating great things from him, and he’s already exceeding expectations. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about Darren on a personal and professional level. We’re certainly very thankful for his work ethic and can-do attitude; he’s one of those people who make working at The Shealy Group so enjoyable.