Many of aspiring chartered accountants who pursue the prestigious ICAEW ACA qualification traditionally kick-start their career journeys by training with the professional and financial services firms. However, there are also many successful ICAEW professionals who begin their training with other employers across various industries.
We had the opportunity to interview one such successful and passionate individual, Beldon Chia, who is an ICAEW Chartered Accountant (ICAEW ACA). At only 22 years old Beldon was seconded as Head of Finance of DB (Philippines), Inc. and Duopharma (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., a leading pharmaceutical company. He attributes his unique professional trajectory to the invaluable skills he acquired from his ICAEW ACA journey, where he obtained the prestigious professional qualification after his O-levels.
Beldon shares with us his decision to embark on his ICAEW ACA journey as a school leaver, the most important lessons he learned from his ACA journey, and his enriching career in the pharmaceutical industry.
1. You pursued the ICAEW ACA without first going to university to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Why did you decide to become a chartered accountant without going through the traditional route of obtaining a degree first?
When I had completed my O-levels I was certain that I wanted to go into the field of finance, so I wanted to embark on a route where I could gain hands-on experience from an early age. When I heard about the ICAEW CFAB from my friends and the exciting global career pathways it opens up, I enrolled in the programme and took every opportunity to learn as much as I could. The ICAEW CFAB (Certificate in Finance, Accounting & Business), is the first component of obtaining the ICAEW ACA qualification.
The ICAEW CFAB enabled me to gain practical work experience at a young age while accelerating my career as a chartered accountant. I was also very fortunate to have supportive lecturers who I could converse with to navigate the different subject components of the programme. Outside of my studies, I served as President of the ICAEW Committee and helped to organise student-focused activities such as CFAB Exchange and Meet Your Future Employer Forum.
2. What was it like studying for the ICAEW ACA and how did it benefit your career as a chartered accountant?
Studying for the ICAEW ACA was a rigorous, yet fulfilling experience. A key skill I developed while studying for the exams was to find a way where I could effectively and study for the various components that make up the ICAEW ACA programme. This meant that I had to adapt to the diverse nature of the exam papers. In turn,
In addition, I was able to also develop the necessary critical thinking and analytical skills, self-discipline, and perseverance to push through any challenge that comes my way in my current profession. Due to my training as an ICAEW chartered accountant, I am not only able to formulate sound financial advice, but am also exposed to exciting opportunities such as the ability to immerse myself in vibrant cultures around the region.
3. Can you elaborate your work in corporate finance at a pharmaceutical firm?
While it is true that many chartered accountants work in financial firms, we also have the privilege to lead extremely exciting professions that are unique across other industries. As the current Corporate Finance Manager at Duopharma Biotech Berhad, I am involved in:
- Providing advice on investment strategies for business M&As;
- Carrying out financial modelling simulations to anticipate business outcomes; and
- Extensively engaging with the investment community to identify unique potential business opportunities.
However, perhaps the most exciting part of my job is being able to travel and work in different countries, such as Indonesia and Singapore, immersing myself in new and vibrant cultures around the region. My journey as a chartered accountant has provided me with unprecedented opportunities to engage with leading professionals, hone my communication skills, work in a team of diverse people, and obtain constructive knowledge from successful individuals and organisations in Southeast Asia.
4. What would you describe as being the most rewarding aspect of taking the ICAEW ACA?
To me the most rewarding aspect of pursuing the ICAEW ACA was being pushed out of my comfort zone in order to navigate complex challenges strategically, developing the ability to be self-disciplined, and committing to a strong sense of purpose to achieve my goals. I also learned to manage my time effectively as I had to balance between the programme’s practical work component and exams without compromising the quality of both aspects.
All of these skills I obtained from the ICAEW ACA have been invaluable in accelerating my career to a point where I now lead my own team and am responsible for my company’s overall financial strategy, as well as engaging with a range of important stakeholders.
5. In one sentence, what would you say is the greatest benefit of holding the ICAEW ACA qualification?
The ICAEW ACA qualification has definitely opened up many unprecedented career opportunities for me, while motivating me to strive to fulfill my full potential to the best of my abilities.
Ready to Embark on a Global Career Pathway Like Beldon’s? Learn about the ICAEW ACA and Full Scholarships Available!
You can start pursuing the ICAEW ACA with the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB) at Sunway TES, which even offers scholarships for qualifying candidates. If you’re considering the ICAEW ACA to fast-track your professional career aspirations and would like to know more about the programme, contact ICAEW Malaysia via:
It’s worth nothing that you don’t actually need an accounting background to study the ICAEW ACA. And for school leavers, you can start the programme as soon as you complete the SPM or O-Levels examinations.