What is your current role and responsibilities? How is it going so far?
As a senior accountant at the headquarters of Shangri-La Group, which owns and manages more than 100 hotels globally in 78 destinations under the Shangri-La, Kerry, JEN, and Traders brands, I am responsible for the financial results of hotels worldwide and management hotels, and providing information on group financial performance for stakeholders. I also work closely with the local accounting team to examine cross-country issues, and make sure financial reports are consistent with the group accounting policy, fully integrated with group assumptions, as well as compliant with Hong Kong statutory requirements. Over the last three years at Shangri-La, I established a good understanding of my duties and developed in-depth knowledge in financial reporting. I have also dealt with the accounting frameworks of different countries, and have become more familiar with the hospitality industry through reviewing management reports from regional hotels.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role, and why?
I would say the most challenging aspects of my role are also the most rewarding. Since the end of 2019, our group has been implementing a new system to smoothen the consolidation process, however soon after we started, the COVID-19 pandemic had spread around the world. I had to learn and study a totally new system and test the system results without missing the reporting deadline. At the same time, some of the regional hotels and shared service centres had been locked down due to the pandemic, making it difficult for me to liaise with them. I was recognized for catering for their specific needs with flexible office hours and delivering appropriate treatment and clarifications directly to the end users, which are the regional hotels and reporting teams. Developing a closer connection with my colleagues in different parts of the world during the pandemic was also rewarding and heartwarming – we constantly reminded each other to take care of ourselves.
What inspired you to become an accountant?
Accountants look professional! That was the first impression I had after finding out as a little girl that my neighbor was an accountant, and I saw him wearing a full suit. After getting introduced to the basics at school, like debit and credit, and finding these concepts of accounting easy to understand, I became more interested in the subject. I also understood that there are different career paths to be taken as an accountant, and I would have the opportunity to try these different paths and discover what would be right or suitable for me. It’s also well-known that job prospects for accountants are strong as there is always a need for an accountant no matter the size of a business, and how good or bad the financial environment is.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned so far from work experience or managers?
Respond quickly, be adaptable and always think ahead in today’s ever-changing environment – these are the biggest lessons I have learned. After the COVID-19 outbreak, many industries turned to greater use of automation technology. In the accounting profession, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and automation adoption are among the biggest trends nowadays. The consolidation system rolled out in my company is an example of how we aimed to reduce manual work from the consolidation process so that we could focus more on analysing the group financial performance. Other than that, with recent rising interest rates, I have witnessed how our management kept an eye on monetary market trends and took appropriate actions to minimize the potential risks. It’s a reminder for me to stay open to learning new skills, and to act promptly and proactively when encountering any big changes or challenging situation.
How do you think the Qualification Programme (QP) has helped you in your career so far?
I started my career doing book-keeping at a trading company and then became an external auditor at a CPA firm, before specializing in financial reporting. The QP equipped me to work effectively in different areas in accounting through the programme’s four main modules, namely financial reporting, business finance, business assurance and taxation. The real-life Hong Kong-focused case studies used in the QP really solidified my accounting knowledge and helped me to apply this knowledge to my work in Hong Kong. I’m able to maintain my professional knowledge through attending webinars or workshops held by professional bodies, including the Institute’s continuing professional development progamme.