Andrea Lam CPA

As Senior Manager at Bain & Company, Andrea Lam CPA is responsible for helping company leaders find the best solutions to business problems. She tells A Plus how her experience as an auditor helps her to excel in her role, and how she learned a valuable lesson on stepping back

What is your current role and responsibilities? How is it going so far?

Bain & Company is a top management consulting company. We advise leaders on strategy, marketing, organization, operations, IT, and mergers and acquisitions, for example. In this role, I have the opportunity to lead a team and help organizations tackle their most difficult challenges. This often includes working with members of management and helping them to, for example, devise a strategy to help them enter a market, perform due diligence before they invest in a company, or value a company’s portfolio. I’ve been enjoying the job, and I’m grateful to be surrounded by an army of bright individuals. It has been a challenging yet amazing journey so far.

What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role, and why?

We are entrusted by our clients to help them solve some of their most challenging problems, which is the toughest part of the job. Our clients expect robust analyses, along with innovative and pragmatic recommendations from us, so it’s important I take ownership of each project and its end product. The most rewarding part of the job is meeting the people I work with. We always work closely together to think outside of the box to deliver or even over-deliver on our clients’ expectations. I’ve made good friends with many colleagues and stayed in contact with them even after they’ve left the company. I also enjoy the diversity of my tasks, which can range from helping companies with cost cutting, to enhancing the efficiency of an organization, and strategy-setting. In the process, I’ve been able to hone my leadership skills and build strong relationships with my team and the companies we work with.

What inspired you to become an accountant?

I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do after graduating, but I heard from my friends in the industry that being an accountant would provide me with solid training. I’m glad I did become an accountant. I’m particularly happy with the training that I received during the first years as an auditor. The experience helped me to understand how a business works and how to read its profit and loss statements, and this knowledge continues to help me in my current role.

Where do you see yourself in the next five to 10 years in your career? Which field do you plan on specializing in, and why?

I’d like to continue working in management consulting. The career path is flexible – you can choose to rotate between internal roles or choose to work part-time. My company also allows us to take an extended leave of absence, if need be. I particularly appreciate how dynamic management consulting is – you get to work with highly intelligent individuals and solve some very interesting problems with them. I also look forward to refining my soft skills in the years ahead, such as my skills in problem-solving, communication and leadership. It’s important that we are agile to adapt to change in a world full of uncertainty.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned so far from work experience or managers?

It would be knowing how and when to take a step back and focus on the most important things which, in my role, is driving impact for my clients. During one particular project, everyone on the case was exhausted and under intense stress to reach our target results. I was confused about what to do and wasn’t performing well either, and as a manager, this put me under a lot of pressure. What I have learned from the experience is knowing how and when to pause and review situations. By focusing only on critical things that drive value for the client, I was able to stay centred and calm when faced with difficult situations. Now, every time I feel overwhelmed, I pause and ask myself, “Is this adding value?” By taking a moment to look at the bigger picture, I am able to achieve incredible outcomes.

How do you think the Qualification Programme (QP) has helped you in your career so far, or prepared you for your current role? 

The QP laid a solid foundation for my career, as accounting is the language of business. I found the modules to be beneficial to my experience as an auditor, where I was exposed to a diverse mix of companies. I consider it a valuable experience, as now I’m able to quickly understand the problems facing a business and, using my skills and knowledge as a CPA, offer pragmatic and innovative solutions backed by numbers.

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