With having spent roughly six weeks in Munich, I’ve had the chance to become better accustomed to German work and life culture. As Scott (another GEEP candidate currently in Munich) wrote in his most recent blog post, Oktoberfest brought out the best of all Bavarian traditions and it was great to experience firsthand. The city definitely had a different feel to it during Oktoberfest but has since calmed down and rightfully so. I am probably doing myself a disservice for not having gone on a city tour of Munich yet to learn more about its history but it is still on my list. I have however done a fair amount of wandering around and feel it has helped me in getting a grasp on navigating around Munich. The city’s transportation system, although confusing at first, is set up great and allows for easy traveling to all of southern Germany and beyond. Scott and I have used the trains to get to a FC Bayern Munich match (Munich’s soccer team) and Dachau concentration camp memorial site, both of which are located in the suburbs of Munich. I also have used the trains for longer trips to Neuschwanstein Castle and for a return trip from Vienna.
Munich is by far the cleanest city I have ever visited and one of the safest as well. Everyone seems to be on the same page when it comes to making sure garbage goes in the trash and the recycling program definitely surpasses Americas in terms of having to pay a refundable deposit on every plastic or glass bottle purchased, not redeemable until returned. Everyone also seems to be on the same page when it comes to crosswalks regardless if a car is coming or not. So far, our jay walking initiative has not picked up much steam but we’ll continue to try. In talking with others and after a quick Google search to confirm, Munich is one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. Between the cars and fashion this was pretty easy to pick up on but I did not really realize the uniqueness of Munich until travelling to a few other European cities for weekend trips. The cultural differences were most apparent when Scott and I went to Berlin for a weekend. Berlin obviously has numerous historical attractions that we were able to take in while doing a bike tour of the city, however, it definitely has more of a modern/artsy feel. We walked along the East Gallery in Berlin, home to a portion of the Berlin Wall that has been made a little more colorful with segments of artwork from various artists. It was great to experience both German cities but I am definitely glad Munich is the location of my secondment (i.e short term work assignment). Aside from the fact all stores close at 8 pm every night and are closed on Sundays, I’m finding it pretty hard to find many negatives about the city.
In terms of the PKF work culture I would say there are more similarities than differences in comparison to Mueller’s approach. All of the employees seem very focused on their respective projects and even the newer employees/interns seem heavily involved right off the bat. In talking with fellow PKF employees I was surprised to learn how many of them have degrees in various non-accounting fields. This obviously has not hurt their ability to grasp the job responsibilities as everyone seems highly productive. This is just different from Mueller where everyone seems to have very similar educational backgrounds. I really did not know what role I would be playing upon arriving in Munich and just assumed it would be working on audits, however, this has not been the case. For the first few weeks I was spending my days at the main office in downtown Munich helping with various projects such as exchange rate translations and consolidation tie outs. This was my first exposure to LucaNet which is a database software that allows for managing the consolidation of many entities in an efficient manner. I only have limited experience with the software up to this point but Scott and I have scheduled some onsite training at the LucaNet offices in Munich to get a better understanding of the software’s capabilities and to see if it could be a potential service Mueller could utilize in the future. More recently, I have been onsite at Siemens helping with the preparation of footnotes for Siemens Gamesa (renewable energy branch). I was hoping, given the size of Siemens, all of the report tie outs would go on without a hitch, but nope! There are a lot of entries on their end booked after the fact and it seems like new balance sheets are being sent in each day. Safe to say, this is not something I am unfamiliar with given certain audit clients back at home. So in a way, it is good to know the struggle is real everywhere. Overall, similar to my views on the city of Munich, it would be a stretch for me to find anything to complain about during my time with PKF Munich. Learning of the 28 day vacation policy for all employees was tough to take though!