Denzel Blount – DHG Superstar Secondee
Denzel Blount, Senior Associate in DHG’s Tysons office, recently returned from a five-month secondment in Hong Kong where he spent time working with our fellow Praxity firm, Mazars. He reflects on his experience abroad and encourages others to take advantage of the secondment experience as he did.
Welcome back to the U.S.! How long were you in Hong Kong? I was there five months but I traveled through Asia afterwards for a few weeks and have been back in the U.S. since mid-October.
Tell us about your work experience while there: I was immersed in so many different types of projects. I was part of a project with a nonprofit organization focused on bringing aid to people in need. The nonprofit is run by foreigners which was nice for me because I was easily able to communicate with them. I also worked with an international music company that does work in Hong Kong. I’m used to working with healthcare clients at DHG, so being immersed into the music industry was very interesting.
Aside from the client work, did you have any other fun experiences on the job? I was able to participate in a couple of marketing and networking events during my time there and I met a study abroad group that came through from the University of Indiana. It was a full circle experience for me because it’s the exact thing I did while studying abroad not more than three years ago. They asked me a bunch of questions about my study abroad experience and how it helped get me to where I am now. Also, while I was there, Mazars Hong Kong was doing a video on global mobility and I was able to participate and talk about my experience as a secondee.
Did you feel that there was a big language barrier? I don’t know Chinese, I knew some basic Mandarin, but almost everyone in Hong Kong speaks English. The only catch is they speak English a little differently than we do in America. Sometimes they understood what I was saying, sometimes they didn’t. The people I worked with were nervous to speak in English because they didn’t think they spoke English as well as they actually do, but they were very confident writing in English. On my first day, I went to shake someone’s hand and instead of shaking my hand he gave me a piece of paper with his Skype username. When he got back to his desk he typed “nice to meet you.”
What were some of the highlights of being in Hong Kong? The number one highlight was the diversity, which also surprised me. I’ve been dancing for many years, mostly hip hop (see Denzel’s hip hop dancing here), but I ended up finding a salsa group in Hong Kong. If you told me I’d be doing Latin salsa dancing in Hong Kong, I would have said you’re crazy, but any night of the week you can find somewhere to dance. People were always telling me to expect to stand out while I was in Hong Kong, but going out felt like being out in the streets of DC, it was so diverse. Also, just having access to the rest of Asia and being able to travel. It was incredible. I went to Thailand a couple of times, Bali, Tokyo and Seoul.
Have you kept in touch with co-workers or friends since being back? Yes, oddly enough, the senior associate from the first job I worked on at Mazars left right after the job to be a secondee in our DHG Tysons office. She was in the States while I was over in Hong Kong. I came back to the states during her last month at DHG. Also, the “buddy” that was assigned to help me at Mazars is coming to visit this summer.
Would you recommend the secondment experience to others at DHG? I would absolutely recommend a secondment to anyone at DHG. There’s no way to really quantify the benefit it has on you as a senior associate or as a person in general. I would suggest determining whether or not you want to do a secondment early in your career and make sure it’s known you want to do it. My performance coach was really instrumental in making sure this was part of my career path. The timing wasn’t ideal, but my team said, you deserve this, we want you to go and have this experience. Not everyone will be selected, so you have to make sure you’re performing at a high level. Lastly, have an open mind. You don’t always get your first choice as far as which country you will be living in, but no matter where you end up, you’re going to have amazing experience.
*For DHG employees, if you’re interested in applying for a secondment, reach out to your OMP or HRBP.
Denzel has been with DHG for just over 3 years in the Tysons, VA office. He is a Senior Associate on the Metro DC Healthcare audit team. When he’s not auditing, he likes to spend his free time travelling or dancing (sometimes in combination).