What is your current role and responsibilities? How is it going so far?
I am the Finance Manager of a major United States-based technology company. Over the past six years, I have been in charge of the statutory accounting, tax and treasury of the company’s entities in Hong Kong and Macau. I also managed its financial planning and analysis (FP&A), which involves budgeting and forecasting, and managing the company’s full profit and loss. I really enjoy working at the company as it has also shown me how digital transformation can change the workplace and much of the world. With many of us, including myself, working from home this year, I’ve had to rely on applications and apps to work with my team remotely and effectively. For example, I use Microsoft Teams to securely connect with my business partners; Azure, a cloud computing tool to build finance “data lakes”; Power BI dashboard to visually present financial analyses; and Power Apps to automate workflow. Many of these tools use artificial intelligence, which I believe will automate many traditional finance functions in the near future. Therefore, it’s crucial for finance professionals to understand how to use these AI tools in our work to remain relevant in the future.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role, and why?
The most challenging aspect of my role is an ongoing task which involves outsourcing our transactional finance functions to overseas teams. For example, I had to arrange for data entry work to be outsourced. It takes time and effort to train these teams to take on new tasks, but by providing clear guidance and using checklists and matrices to measure their deliverables, they have improved, and are now able to consistently perform their tasks well. By outsourcing finance-related tasks, my team is able to focus more on working with our business partners and improving processes. We are also continuously looking to outsource other finance functions, so this is an ongoing effort. I’m responsible for managing these overseas teams, so I have to review their work and communicate with them to make sure everyone is able to complete their tasks. It’s rewarding to see everything come together in the end.
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 as a financial professional in the IT industry. Technology continues to play such a key role in our daily lives, and it’s important for finance professionals to recognize that our jobs are no longer limited to just working with numbers or writing reports. Knowledge in tech combined with finance can change the way things are done at a company. As for skills, I’d like to polish my skills in FP&A and compliance. Knowledge in FP&A is essential to ensuring business growth by providing insight, whereas knowledge in compliance can help with a company’s operations, mitigate risks and to ensure control and governance. I look forward to also using my knowledge in finance to offer helpful insights and assist in business decision-making.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career is an ongoing task that involves helping to improve the processes at the company. I review the current processes and identify ways they could be sped up, automated or eliminated through the use of technology. These processes include standardizing finance reports and digitalizing paperwork for driving efficiency and simplification. For instance, we’ve encouraged all our business partners to settle payments using wire transfers instead of sending us cheques. The main hurdle is encouraging others to adopt change, as it can be hard for some to change the way they’ve done something for many years. By sharing best practices with counterparts in other countries, who in turn share their ideas with us, we are successfully adopting new processes. This helps to create a standardization of processes and also streamlines our end-to-end workflow.
How do you think the Qualification Programme (QP) has helped you in your career so far, or prepared you for your current role?
Going through the QP was definitely a fruitful journey. The QP helped me to build a strong foundation in technical knowledge in accounting, as everything is taught from a very practical perspective. I can say I still apply a great deal of skills and knowledge from all of the four modules in my role today. I remember the workshops were also very helpful. We’d first have discussions in small groups and then give presentations in front of the whole class. So not only did I gain skills in accounting, but also brushed up on my communication skills. I give several presentations at work, so that aspect of the course definitely helped. I also met and networked with a lot of finance professionals through the programme.