Sally Chau

Sally Chau, Executive Officer of the Environmental Protection Department, has always loved working with numbers. She tells A Plus about how her role requires laser-sharp focus, and why she dedicates time after work for self-improvement


What is your current role and responsibilities?

One of my main duties involves managing contracts, many of which are related to the procurement of different kinds of services to help the Environmental Protection Department promote the importance of environmental protection among the public. I oversee and perform budgeting for various campaigns, and report any discrepancies to management. I also have to determine whether quotations fully meet the requirements stipulated in our contracts by exercising due diligence. It’s going well so far. There is definitely increasing public awareness and concern towards environmental protection, and it feels great to contribute to reducing waste and protecting the environment.

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

It’s rewarding to apply my accounting skills in practical situations. I need to be very meticulous when evaluating quotations or performing expenditure forecasts. At the beginning it was challenging getting used to the forms of payment and the service contract requirements. I overcame this by studying the contracts as hard as I could in my spare time.

What inspired you to become an accountant?

I’ve always loved numbers and mathematics, even as a child. I chose to study the principles of accounting when I was in secondary school, and was very intrigued by the various accounting concepts. I eventually majored in accounting and finance at the University of Hong Kong.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far and how did you overcome it?

I wasn’t the best at using Microsoft Excel at my first job as a compliance officer at ICBC Asia. I would often stay after office hours to teach myself how to use it to finish off tasks. I would check and try to understand what was going on in each individual Excel cell to see how they were calculated. When I ran into issues, I would ask my supervisor or seniors to explain. They were extremely helpful and willing to teach.

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

How to learn quickly. I had to compile and check accounting returns at ICBC Asia and had to retrieve data from accounting sources to verify the accuracy of each return. This required me to understand how to use various accounting systems and the relationship between different systems early on in the job. During my previous role at the Home Affairs Department, there were certain deadlines I needed to meet, such as the government’s fiscal year deadline. For example, a number of programmes and activities were only completed towards the end of the fiscal year, even though their payments should be efficiently arranged within the remaining period of the same fiscal year. This experience made me realize the importance of managing my time effectively.

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

I found module B, Corporate Financing, to really help in my role. The module covers ethical standards, so it taught me how to evaluate quotations submitted by bidders for the procurement of services by following ethical standards and regulations. I’m also able to ensure my analyses are comprehensive and objective each and every time, using SWOT, or strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat analysis, taught in the module.

Sally Chau participated in the interview in her private capacity.

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August 2019
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Sally Chau, Executive Officer at the Environmental Protection Department

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