What are the biggest lessons in your career so far?

One of the biggest lessons is that in order to be an effective business partner, your primary goal must always be to make your client’s life easier. In my role, for example, one of my main goals is to engage, partner, and collaborate with various departments across the university. In order to do so, my team and I establish frequent, targeted, and transparent communication with faculty members – who are essentially our clients – to better understand their needs. Using our business acumen, we identify areas for improvement and streamline financial processes, providing faculty members with a clear financial story and an explanation of the impact of decisions on the overall business of the university.

How would you compare this role with your experience in the corporate sector?

Coming from a less privileged background myself, I personally understand the value of higher education and the avenues that a degree opens up for young adults searching for their place in the world. I find great purpose in working in this sector, knowing that my work each day has a genuine impact on the lives of the students. Although financial management in higher education and in the corporate sector share many similarities, there are notable differences. For example, while companies focus on maximizing shareholder value and profitability, the primary objective of financial management in universities is to ensure the effective and efficient use of funds to support the institution’s core mission of education and research. Also, universities typically have a more complex governance structure and involve multiple stakeholders, including faculty senates and boards of trustees, etc.

How has your CPA qualification helped you in your career?

The CPA designation is a signifier of a comprehensive mastery of accounting principles, financial reporting, taxation, auditing and business regulations. My CPA qualification has helped enhance my professional credibility and increase my earning potential. It has also helped me to build my finance career locally in Hong Kong, as well as internationally in Shanghai, Qatar and the United States.

From your perspective, what will it take to attract university students to the profession?

Professional organizations and employers should strengthen their collaboration and partnership with universities on curriculum development to ensure that accounting programmes taught at universities align with industry needs and integrate data analytics, automation, and artificial intelligence in accounting practices. The enhanced programmes should emphasize the importance of digital skills and how the profession is evolving to leverage emerging technologies, and offer practical, hands-on learning experience, such as internships, case studies, and real-world projects, to provide students with valuable skills and exposure to the profession.

What do you love most about working in the education sector?

A career in higher education offers a better work-life balance than many other fields. A career in this sector also offers many opportunities for growth. Not only am I able to learn new skills from working with different departments each day, I am also able to attend conferences and workshops to stay updated with the latest trends in our field, helping me to grow professionally and personally. I can honestly say that I love my job.

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