Dexter Lee

Dexter Lee, Senior Manager, Financial Planning and Analysis at Hong Kong-based luxury watch platform Wristcheck, on how he transferred invaluable lessons learnt to the growing start-up’s finance department

What are the biggest lessons in your career so far?

The biggest lessons I’ve learnt revolve around the importance of adaptability, curiosity, and being personable. Over the past nine years, I’ve had three jobs at two different companies, which has taught me the need to adapt to new environments, personalities, and responsibilities. I’ve made a conscious effort to connect with a wide range of people, both within and outside my industry, which has provided me with valuable insights into how different functions contribute to a business, and helped me realize how much there is to learn about the world. It’s also crucial to differentiate between networking and being personable. To me, being personable means genuinely wanting to get to know the person you’re talking to, with no agenda. Building a foundation for long-term relationships requires authenticity.

Tell us about the transition from KPMG to a start-up.

I began my career at KPMG in the financial services audit group, and later transferred internally to transaction services for financial due diligence. Typically, individuals in my position would move on to the buy/sell side afterwards. However, a different opportunity presented itself when a good friend introduced me to the role of finance lead at Wristcheck. Unlike my previous analytical focus on specific companies at KPMG, Wristcheck required someone to improve systems and processes, monitor budgets, create forecasts, and manage daily operational tasks – anything involving numbers needed to be reviewed before execution. Despite the steep learning curve and challenges, it was precisely this opportunity for growth that prompted me to join Wristcheck. Coming from an institution like KPMG, I had taken many processes for granted. However, upon joining Wristcheck, I quickly realized the importance of building a solid foundation that enables the smooth functioning of the entire company.

In what ways has your CPA qualification been valuable at a high-growth start-up?

My CPA qualification and training have proven valuable at a high-growth start-up, particularly one that emphasizes transparency. It provided me with clear guidelines on structuring processes and systems, as well as a strong foundation in establishing reliable governance structures. Many high-growth start-ups tend to overlook these processes as they prioritize growth, but neglecting regulatory reporting requirements can be detrimental to their success.

Since joining the company, how has your perspective of watches changed?

Previously, my knowledge was limited to brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe. However, after joining Wristcheck, I’ve been introduced to a wide range of popular brands and models and more recently to the independent brands. Each day presents an opportunity to learn more about watches because there are countless brands and references out there. It’s an ongoing process of discovery.

What is your favourite watch from your collection?

While I consider myself an entry-level watch collector, my favourite watch from my collection is the Atelier Wen x Wristcheck collaboration. It holds a special place because it commemorates Wristcheck’s first-ever collaboration with another brand. The collaboration represents Atelier Wen’s first titanium watch. Each watch is unique, with its guilloché dial undergoing an intense eight-hour hand-making process by China’s only master guilloché craftsman, Master Cheng.

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