The husband of an Ernst & Young employee who plummeted from her Sydney office balcony was on a plane when his wife fell to her death.
The woman’s partner was flying from Singapore to Australia when the 33-year-old woman plummeted from the upper floors of the building shortly after midnight on Friday.
He only learned of his wife’s fate after landing at Sydney airport, and her tragic death also shocked the corporate accounting world.
The woman is believed to have returned to the EY office at 7:30pm, around two hours after meeting her colleagues for drinks at the Ivy nightclub.
Approximately five hours later, shortly after midnight, a construction worker and his colleague working on a site next to the George Street headquarters heard a crash as the woman fell onto the awning over the building’s main entrance.
Police determined the woman used her security card to access a secure patio on the upper floors of the building.
A woman was found dead at the Ernst & Young headquarters in Sydney (pictured) early on Saturday morning after leaving a work event.
A detective and a uniformed police officer were seen talking to a woman in the building’s reception area Tuesday morning.
Security guards inside the facility are understood to have raised the alarm, with police and paramedics rushing to the area and sealing off the scene.
The construction worker said he was surprised to learn details of the incident from first responders.
“There was a big blue tarp over it…it’s horrible and so tragic,” he said.
‘We were quite surprised. We had no idea. She is terrible, the poor woman.
Accounting and consulting firm EY emailed staff offering continued support after the death of their young colleague.
The woman is understood to have been a foreign national who spent approximately six months working for the company.
Police determined the woman used her security swipe card to access a secure patio on the upper floors of the building (a balcony in the Ernst & Young building is shown)
The woman is understood to have been a foreign national and spent approximately six months working for EY. Pictured: Inside the Ernst & Young office
The tragedy has shocked Sydney’s accounting industry, which is now in the midst of peak auditing season, with some of the country’s brightest numbers analysts struggling to meet deadlines from high-powered clients.
Daily Mail Australia does not suggest that the work culture at EY contributed to the tragic circumstances, and the woman’s position in the company and personal circumstances are unknown.
EY staff received an email from a member of management on Monday who told them: “It is with great sadness that I share the news that one of our team members has died in the EY building in Sydney over the weekend.” .
The woman returned to Ernst and Young’s head office in Sydney (pictured) around 7:30pm on Friday. She was found dead hours later.
READ THE EMAIL
It is with great sadness that I share the news that one of our team members died in the EY building in Sydney over the weekend.
While the police investigation is ongoing, we have been informed that there were no suspicious circumstances.
We have been in contact with the family of the person involved to offer our condolences and continued support.
The loss of a colleague is deeply saddening, I want to assure everyone that we will continue to provide support in any way we can. This includes our EAP service which is available to all EY employees and their families.
As a result of this tragedy, we are conducting a comprehensive and wide-ranging internal review that will include social, health and safety events. Jono Nicholas, our lead Mental Health Advisor, will play an important role in guiding and advising us as we move forward.
“While the police investigation is ongoing, we have been advised that there were no suspicious circumstances,” the email added.
“We have contacted the person’s family to offer our condolences and continued support.”
The email said the company would launch a “comprehensive and wide-ranging internal review” of its health and safety and social policies in the wake of the tragedy.
A group of EY workers told Daily Mail Australia that advice had been offered to employees.
A uniformed NSW Police officer and a detective were on site Tuesday morning to meet with senior managers.
“This is the worst case scenario, so management is doing everything they can,” said a member of staff.
‘We have never known anything like this. It’s awful… it’s so creepy.
The employees, who did not know the woman, said the company is made up of several teams, each made up of about 30 or 40 people.
“The ‘work hard, play hard’ (culture) depends on your team,” they said. ‘Some are like that, others are not’.
The woman arrived at the bar around 5:30 p.m. Friday for an event organized by the accounting giant’s social club.
He spent the next two hours there, leaving just before 7:30 pm to walk back to his office.
Police are not treating the death as “suspicious” and investigations are still ongoing to determine what happened after she had her last drink.
Police have been reviewing CCTV footage from nearby cameras (pictured) to piece together the woman’s final moments.
It has been alleged that staff escorted her out of the venue due to excessive alcohol consumption, The Australian reported.
But CCTV footage seen by investigators once she returned to 200 George Street at Circular Quay, overlooking Sydney Harbour, did not suggest she was noticeably intoxicated.
It is also unclear if the employee returned to the skyscraper to continue working until the night or if she was there for another reason.
Temporary repairs have been made to an awning damaged during the incident, but blood has yet to be cleaned from the scene.
Floral tributes were notably absent from the scene Tuesday morning, as a myriad of workers streamed in and out of the building.
A detective and uniformed police officer were seen entering the building and waiting in the lobby until a woman came to greet them and then led them upstairs.
In recent years, EY had faced criticism along with other large accounting firms – KPMG, Deloitte and PWC – for its extreme work hours and competitive corporate culture.
Last year, an email from the heads of EY’s Hong Kong financial services team exposed their grueling “peak season work protocol and expectations”. It is not suggested that the same edict be applied in Australia.
“Staff must start work at 9:30 am and finish no earlier than 11:30 pm,” the email said.
‘I think midnight is common in high seasons, it depends on self-discipline and responsibility.
“For the weekends, I hope that at least one day we spend the whole day (from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm) in the office.”
The woman found dead at Ernst and Young’s head office in Sydney had spent two hours earlier in the evening at Sydney’s glitzy watering hole, the Ivy nightclub (pictured)
The management of the company is now prepared to carry out a ‘comprehensive and wide-ranging internal review encompassing health and safety, security and social events as it pertains to our staff’.
EY CEO and regional managing partner David Larocca said the company’s employees were being counseled about the tragedy.
“Our Director of Mental Health will be part of an ongoing review and has been instrumental over the weekend in providing ongoing advice and guidance,” he said.
‘Advice has been offered to all staff and team members.’
EY is also assisting the police with their ongoing investigation while a coroner’s report is prepared.
“Our hearts go out to the family and we have reached out to offer our support and condolences,” Larocca said.
In 2019, a parliamentary inquiry heard how young employees “carried the can” while workers “burned the midnight oil” at high-end consulting firms.
Auditors typically work 12 hours a day, and even more during peak season.
For 24-hour confidential support in Australia, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Who are Ernst & Young?
Ernst & Young is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious accounting and consulting firms, with around 600 offices worldwide.
Now known as EY, the firm provides audits for some of the world’s largest companies and consults with governments on corporate risk, technology and human resources services.
Based in the UK, the firm is worth over US$40 billion.
International clients include Hewlett Packard computers, US telecommunications giant AT&T, Coca Cola, General Motors, Hilton hotels and Lockheed Martin.
EY’s Australian clients include retail giant Wesfarmers, Telstra, as well as energy and minerals giants Newcrest Mining and Woodside Petroleum, along with various government departments.
The post-fiscal year period ends June 30 and is considered one of the peak times when major companies will require audits.
Those who work in the highly competitive corporate environment during this time are known to work long hours.