Like many of the team here at Bean Ninjas, CPA Jane Szafraniec is no ordinary accountant!
Her journey to joining Bean Ninjas spans the globe a few times over! Jane currently lives in Japan, but that definitely doesn’t stop her from being – and feeling – like one of the Bean Ninjas family.
Early Career Journey
Jane was born and raised in Chicago, USA, where she worked as an auditor at Grant Thornton for over 9 years. In 2010 she snapped up the opportunity to undertake a secondment in Melbourne, Australia. At the time, Jane had no idea where this adventure would lead her.
Not only would she have a successful career secondment but she would also meet one of the most important people in her life.
“Little did I know then that my future husband was sitting across from me and that we would eventually move to Tokyo together in 2015! Once in Tokyo, I began doing accounting contract work and had my first child there (who is now 1 year old). Recently, my husband connected me to Meryl after he saw an update of Meryl and Bean Ninjas on LinkedIn.”
Jane jumped at the opportunity with Bean Ninjas and it’s worked out perfectly for her and the team! Bean Ninja’s unique set-up allows Jane the freedom to work remotely while still feeling like part of a close-knit work culture. Bean Ninjas has gained a valuable team member who provides high-quality work and great attention to detail to the team.
But the biggest thing that attracted her to join the team?
“The name! I thought it was so clever. Also after hearing about Bean Ninjas, I checked out the website and read some articles about the company. I was impressed by the company’s accomplishments and it came across as a professional and efficient company, so I was very keen to hear more.”
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Like many of our fantastic Ninjas, the opportunity to work remotely worked very well for Jane and her current set-up. Being based in Japan but not knowing any of the language could be a real challenge, but working with Bean Ninjas means Jane can still utilise her vast experience and skills as an accountant.
“A remote job was extremely appealing to me since I live in Tokyo (where language is a massive barrier) yet I have accounting skills that I want to apply and grow. It is very appealing that with Bean Ninjas, I can offer my accounting skills and experience yet not compromise time with my son for a 9-5 job in order to do this – truly the best of both worlds!”
Here at Bean Ninjas, we firmly believe in building the right work culture that supports and empowers our staff. When asked why she likes working for Bean Ninjas so much, it’s exactly this that Jane identifies as a huge selling point for her:
“I am very impressed that despite there being many remote workers, so much trust and respect is placed in everyone to get their work done and from what I can see everyone seems to respect this system. Despite the remote workers, the high service Bean Ninjas delivers is not compromised and I am proud to now be a part of it. It is also so wonderful and refreshing to see a company supporting work/life balance.”
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A Global View on Career Lessons
With her varied experience, across countries and cultures, Jane has had the opportunity to really adapt, learn as she goes, and pick up some excellent career tips and lessons along the way. Unsurprisingly, at the top of her list is communication.
“Good communication is key – it not only avoids surprises but having the ability to communicate honestly avoids unnecessary stress.”“Good communication is key - it not only avoids surprises, but having the ability to communicate honestly avoids unnecessary stress.” -Jane Szafraniec #BeanNinjas Click To Tweet
Feeding nicely into that is her second lesson which focuses on setting clear expectations (especially important for this Bean Ninja who works remotely from in a different time zone!)
“Set clear expectations – applies both upwards and downwards and goes hand in hand with communication. Having clear expectations allows everyone to understand their place in the company and hence feel a real sense of purpose and belonging. “
Finally, Jane is a strong advocate for building strong, lasting relationships – especially in the workplace.
“Build strong relationships – get to know the people you work with personally and not just their work side. I find the people I have built strong relationships with in my career are the ones I got to know more on a personal level.”
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Success for Jane is ongoing – she doesn’t think it can be defined by one single moment or achievement and she’s an advocate for continually seeking professional development. When it comes to leadership, Jane has some more great advice. For Jane, strong leadership isn’t really about yourself, but rather about the people you have around you, and more importantly how you impact them:
“True leadership is about empowering others – motivating them to act on their own initiative. It’s also taking the time to listen to others and factoring in their opinions when making decisions that will affect them.”
“True leadership is about empowering others - motivating them to act on their own initiative. It’s also taking the time to listen to others and factoring in their opinions when making decisions that will affect them.” -Jane Szafraniec Click To Tweet
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Getting to know Jane
For most of us, making the decision to move to a new country is one that we would plan out, probably spend months arranging work visas, saving money and looking for appropriate jobs. Well, Jane and her husband like to live a little differently.
“I met my husband who is from Ireland while working at the same accounting firm in Melbourne. Since neither of us were from Australia, we decided to move somewhere else before buying a home and having kids. We decided Japan was one country we were most intrigued by and quit our jobs, sold all our belongings and moved to Tokyo without speaking the language, having a visa to live there, having jobs or knowing a soul in the country! Eventually, my husband got a job that enabled us to have a visa to stay on.”
We love her style! Jane and her husband have clearly made a great home together in Tokyo, and the move has certainly paid off for them in the best of ways; Jane gave birth to their first son a year ago:
“We joke he is Japanese since he was born there (but he is not entitled to a Japanese passport)!”
Naturally when asked what she couldn’t live without Jane is quick to list her husband and her son, but she also has more than a few extras she has to throw in!
“I have to list more than one! Coffee, bbq sauce, pretzels, mochi, Skype…!”
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Despite the adventure and everything she’s achieved through moving to Japan, Jane still considers it one of the biggest challenges she’s had to face in life so far (and we can see why!):
“Living in a country where I don’t speak the language and not much English is spoken – even small tasks such as ordering food over the phone in Japanese or going into the pharmacy to ask for medicine takes about 5 times as long as it should! And half the time I still don’t get what I wanted! A lot of patience is required every single day.”
Even though it’s been a challenge, Jane wouldn’t change any of it, and she still makes the time and effort to maintain a close relationship with her immediate family despite the distance. This is just one of the many things that’s important to Jane, the others being her husband and son and making time for herself:
“Spending time with my husband John and son Taigh (pronounced tiger without the r – it’s a Gaelic name!) is very important to me. So is feeling fulfilled in both my personal and professional life, which also means making time for myself – particularly to do yoga – as I find it’s easy to let something else (in my case recently, motherhood) consume you.”
When asked to what three traits define her, Jane has a beautiful list of qualities including being creative:
“Despite having an audit background, I have a creative side – I enjoy photography and crafts and have an eye for detail.”
“I have a tendency to ask others a lot of questions when I meet them as I am just curious about other people. I also love to explore the areas I’m visiting or living in (I have well and truly discovered Melbourne and Tokyo!).”
“I am always taking into consideration other’s feelings, often send care packages to family, and have a great memory which helps with my thoughtfulness.”
Jane’s own personal philosophy has been taken from none other than the Dalai Lama himself and is simply ‘What will bring me happiness?’ – an easy, but often overlooked question to stop and ask ourselves.
“It is a simple yet powerful question and one that can be applied from the smallest daily decision to the biggest life decision. I ask myself this multiple times a day and find this simple question refocuses me and steers me in the right direction of what I’m trying to accomplish for the day.”
We love your attitude and insight Jane!
At Bean Ninjas, we’ve mastered how to build a high-performing team across multiple continents. That’s helped us discover quality talent like Jane Szafraniec. Contact us to learn more about our incredible team and how we can help you.
She has travelled to 31 countries and regularly visits her Tasmanian homeland. She is an avid surfer and yogi and spends her time between the Gold Coast, Australia and Argentina.
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