"Degree Alone No Longer Ticket To Career Advancement" — PwC Accountant Shares His Story

Employers tend to look out for candidates who have new knowledge or additional skills.

Cover image via CPA Australia (Provided to SAYS)

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This Spotlight is sponsored by CPA Australia.

In today's job market, it takes a lot more than a degree to stand out from the crowd

With increasing numbers of applicants vying for the same positions, employers tend to look out for candidates who can bring something extra to the table, such as new knowledge or up-to-the-minute skills.

This is where having additional professional certifications can go a long way in helping you catch the eye of potential employers. For example, those interested in the field of accounting can look into getting the CPA Australia certification, which helps develop high-impact savvy professionals.

Meet Lim Boon Seng, a Malaysian accountant who experienced how having an additional certification helped him achieve both professional and personal success

Boon Seng currently works as a Senior Manager at PwC Malaysia, where he has portfolios within the firm's Assurance and IT Risk Assurance practices. In addition, he is also involved in the firm's Data Analytics Centre of Excellence.

Outside of work, Boon Seng makes an impact through volunteer work, including his role as Camp Chief at the Children Adventure Camp organised by an NGO in Penang.

Boon Seng assisting a child with the Flying Fox activity.

Image via CPA Australia (Provided to SAYS)

Besides that, he plays various sports, with frisbee being one of them. And along with his PwC team, he even regularly shares experiences and insights with college and university students.

Though Boon Seng has a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Taxation, he says a degree alone is no longer the ticket to career advancement it once was

"To be frank, nowadays, a professional qualification is not just value-adding, it's a requirement to progress.

"I spent three years in Singapore, and it was during that time that I received my CPA Australia certification, which I believe played an important part in helping me to land an experienced role in a Big Four firm there," he shared.

The experience he gained in Singapore after achieving CPA status opened the door for Boon Seng to explore new opportunities in digital with PwC Malaysia in 2019

Inter-accounting firm futsal match, where the PwC team won Gold.

Image via CPA Australia (Provided to SAYS)

Not only did having the CPA Australia certification help him stand out in the workplace, by completing the programme, he also demonstrated to employers that he was capable of being far more than just a good accountant.

"With CPA Australia, you have a huge pool of resources to access and absorb, but it doesn't overwhelm you with information. Instead, the CPA Program allows you to leverage their resources so that you can learn at your own pace. Most importantly, it doesn't stop once you complete all the subjects. I regularly receive invitations to courses that help me to prepare and adapt to the latest business issues.

"It has opened up my horizons in that I get to listen to speakers from different backgrounds sharing insights on topics that aren't just finance-related," he said.

A session that Boon Seng found memorable and insightful was a webinar about the notorious 'Macau scam'

Through that session, he got to understand how psychology and human behaviour played a role in the scam.

Two subjects in the CPA Program that Boon Seng was particularly impressed with were Contemporary Business Issues (CBI) and Global Strategy and Leadership (GSL).

"Of the six subjects I took, I remember those two the most because they're not really numbers-oriented," he said.

With CBI, he was able to reflect on his role as an accountant, as well as his role as a business advisor to his clients, in terms of helping them with new business models in a digital age.

Meanwhile, the challenging business case studies in GSL taught him new analytical techniques, which helped to cultivate a mindset that requires both attention to detail and looking at the bigger picture.

It is through these kinds of subjects that Boon Seng has learned invaluable skills that have propelled him ahead in his career.

Since the CPA Program allows for flexible study, Boon Seng was able to balance his studies with his job at PwC

With 60-70% pass rates, the CPA Program can be undertaken either through full-time or self-paced online study with a range of guided learning tools.

"Especially in audit, the second half of the year at PwC is normally occupied with interfirm sports competitions, training, and employee engagement events such as team building activities, the annual trip, and orientation night," Boon Seng explained.

"The high level of flexibility in the programme allowed me to participate in the firm's internal activities and bond with my colleagues, while at the same time studying for the CPA Australia certification," he added.

Annual football match of PwC Penang - Senior vs Junior vs Alumni.

Image via CPA Australia (Provided to SAYS)

Boon Seng also spoke about how CPA Australia's up-to-the-minute continual learning opportunities came in handy for one of his ongoing projects at work

"CPA Australia has set up an Environment and Social Governance (ESG) Advisory Group in Malaysia, and there will be a series of ESG events to keep members updated.

"When I saw this, PwC Malaysia was getting our views out on ESG and sharing our commitment to helping clients in their journey. So, CPA Australia's focus on the ESG transformation has come at just the right time for me," he shared.

All in all, Boon Seng credits having an additional professional certification with helping him get to where he is today

Be it his current position at PwC Malaysia or wherever life takes him next, having the CPA Australia certification in his arsenal will no doubt empower Boon Seng to progress in his career.

The CPA Program is currently open for enrolment, so do join their information sessions to find out more about it

If you would like the CPA Australia team to connect with you, please leave your contact details here.

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