Our people: Melissa Collier
Deloitte partner, Melissa Collier, has a wealth of experience of working with clients, both large and small. We caught up with her to discuss her new involvement in the Deloitte Private space, and a recent exciting trip to visit the tech entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley.
How long have you been at Deloitte and what is your role?
I started as an intern in 2004, and after doing a degree in Commerce at Auckland University, came back as a graduate in 2006. I made partner in 2014 and now work primarily in the Audit & Assurance practice.
Why did you pick the specialities that you work in?
I chose Audit for a few different reasons – firstly, I thought it would give me the best foundation of knowledge to launch my career, but I also thought that it would put me out of my comfort zone. That was definitely a good thing, because being out of a comfort zone means that you’re able to adapt. In this role, versatility is important when you’re meeting new clients and different businesses.
You’re getting more involved in the Deloitte Private space as well - what do you like about that work?
I love working with Deloitte Private because it’s quite different from my other Audit work. It's really rewarding and because we work with fast-growing businesses, and is often a lot more challenging. For many private companies, that growth can be quite a steep learning curve but it’s good to have the ability to help them and make a difference.
What specific challenges do you find there are for SMEs?
I think that when everything is increasing at such a fast pace within the business, the challenge lies in finding good people and keeping up with that pace. That often requires setting up new systems and processes and at the same time, you get people in the business that end up having to wear every different kind of hat. Finding time to focus on bigger issues like strategy is difficult when they're also having to look at things like payroll or expenses.
What is your favourite piece of advice for clients?
I’ve got two pieces of advice I often give to founders and business owners. One is that it’s important to build a really good team around you - people that you trust, and people who bring different skillsets to complement your own. Secondly, that it’s important to trust your instincts. I think for those at the top in fast-growing businesses, it must be quite a lonely place at times, but listening to their gut instinct in challenging situations is really important.
You’ve just been on a big trip to Silicon Valley! Tell us a little bit about that.
I was really fortunate to be a part of the Breakthrough Leaders programme - a year-long programme run by Global Women - and our trip was a part of our last course module, titled ‘Global Awareness’. So it was in San Francisco, where we visited and spoke to lots of tech companies, and it was just incredible to see the scale of some of them. One company we visited was the live streaming gaming platform, Twitch, which has a Kiwi female COO, Sara Clemens, who was really inspiring. We also looked at design thinking at Stanford University.
All in all, San Francisco was such a hive of activity and such an amazing incubator for innovation - it kind of drives the whole city.
What do you think makes these leaders of huge companies successful?
I think that they were all pretty clear in their purpose, and had a vision for what they wanted to achieve with their organisations. They were also pretty authentic in what they stood for and what interested them. They all had very different approaches to leading people but you could see that they bring their whole self to everything that they do.
Finally, what is your favourite way to spend the weekend?
I've got two young girls, one who's just turned 2 and one who's 4, so for me, the weekends are sort of sacred family time! They’re a chance to spend good quality time with the girls and my husband, and see friends and family.
Jen Scouler works in the Deloitte clients & marketing team across digital content and social media. She also works closely with Deloitte Private.