Rotuman appointed to senior role at top NZ accounting firm
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Rotuman Lisa Tai is opening doors for Pasifika at one of the most sought-after employers in the country.
“We want to be representative of the communities that are serving, so still a long way to go but definitely on the right track,” Tai says.
For the past 16 years, she has worked at Deloitte, one of New Zealand’s Big Four accounting firms. Deloitte is also one of the largest professional services networks in the world.
“Doesn’t feel like 16 years until you walk around the office and realise you’re on the older age of the spectrum.”
Tai says she wouldn’t have lasted that long if it was not for her company’s support to increase workplace diversity.
“I became quite frustrated that there weren’t that many people I could relate to that didn’t look like me, so I just thought, ‘this is not for me. This is not what I set out to do.'”
Queue ‘Pås Peau’, A Pasifika services group Tai established in 2020.
“We’ve got accountants, we’ve got people that specialise in tech, people that specialise in risk, and we all have unique skill sets.
“I guess our job is to go, ‘we have all these skills and technologies and ways of working. If we see a problem or an opportunity to better support Pacific initiatives, how do we connect Deloitte to that?'”
The journey started in the 1980s when her parents moved their family of five from Fiji to Aotearoa for better opportunities.
“So we lived in [a] caravan for a wee while. Because I was quite young, [I didn’t] know all the challenges,” Tai recalls.
“My mum said she’s really happy that she made that decision to come from Fiji, and it makes that decision worthwhile which is pretty cool.
“I do reflect on that quite a lot on that. If your parents are going to have the courage to leave the comfort of home and give up everything they know, to come to a new country for a better opportunity, you better make the most of it.”
Hailing from West Auckland, Tai’s family support now includes her husband, Junior and their two children, who’ve seen her through her ups and downs.
“I’m pretty lucky. Pretty lucky to have Junior. [He] has been with me since high school. He’s seen it all,” she says.
“Your family, especially your spouse and your children, in many ways, get the worst of you because you have to go and give your everything at work.
“They’re the only ones that see you tired. So, to have someone alongside you through the whole journey is pretty cool.”
Now she’s reaping the benefits of her hard work. She has been appointed as a risk advisory partner, focusing on risk, integrity, and financial crime while leading the Pås Peau team.
As a partner at Deloitte, Tai is one of few Pasifika women to take on a senior role at the firm and is hoping to use her position of influence to continue helping other Pasifika professionals as well.
“I’m really, really grateful to be in that role and taking the leap into partnership wasn’t something I took lightly. You have to stop and think if this is what you actually want, and it’s a senior role and with a senior role comes with a lot of responsibility.
“I am just so driven to make sure that we are, the opportunity and the pathways for people, should they wish to come and enter this profession, that there are so many options for them.”