1. What made you join the Navy?
When I was in school, the Navy ran recruitment days. In Singapore, military service is voluntary for women and mandatory for men. I’ve always liked the Sun, sand, and sea (the Singaporean Navy recruitment slogan at the time), so I thought I’d be doing something I’d enjoy. I joined shortly after I got my diploma and spent four years there.
2. What was your role?
When I first signed up, I went through the basic military training and then I was posted onboard a ship. I made sure we didn’t run around and helped plan the routes. I basically had to get from point A to point B. Singapore is a shipping hub, so we swept for mines to make sure the water was safe. For my second posting I was onboard an anti-submarine vessel. We scanned the sea for possible submarines.
3. How did you get into accounting?
When I left the service, I began to work in a bank. I sold financial instruments. I stated working at a branch after passing all the qualification tests, but it was right in the middle of the Lehman Brothers situation, during the sub-prime crisis. It was tough; I thought I was going to lose my job. I learned a lot, but I still thought I didn’t know enough and that I would never be the top salesperson if I didn’t understand the product that much.
I realized I wanted to learn more and went back to school. Between banking and finance, and accounting and finance, I realized that accounting was a bit broader, so decided to do it as a degree. I was 31 when I went back to school. My finances were not enough to go back to school earlier, so I had to work first to support myself.
4. How did you choose where to study?
When I was about to graduate from my degree, I got introduced to the ICAEW programme. I was fascinated by it. I knew it would be a rigorous certification and I decided I wanted to do it. From them on, I only looked for a place I knew was an authorized employer. I narrowed it down to a few companies that were supportive of the ACA qualification, and that’s how I ended up at UHY. There was only one other person in the company studying through ICAEW. But my boss is also an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. He gave me some advice and I felt comfortable.
5. You teach swimming, is it your passion?
I was already teaching before I decided to go back to school full time. It helped pay my bills and school fees, plus the timing allowed me to cope with studies. I keep doing it now as it is my passion to nurture and impart skills to our future generation. I feel immensely satisfied and fulfilled when I’m in the water with the children.
6. And for the future?
I’ve just finished one exam, the first of three Advanced Level (final) exams. They’re quite difficult, so I just want to focus on finishing them now. I am interested in compliance and forensic audit as I think they are interesting fields. In the longer term, I may consider teaching.
This article is published on ProspectsASEAN.com with the publisher’s consent. This article originally appeared in ICAEW Vital magazine (January 2018 edition) published by ICAEW.