SAA-GE's Message #06 - October 2016

Greetings from SAA-GE!

It’s the time of the year to celebrate the achievements and success of our students! In this issue, we have exclusive interviews with our graduates and the “behind-the-scenes” stories from their loved ones who have aided them in their journey to success! Check them out as we gear ourselves up for the SAA Global Education’s Graduation Ceremony 2016 on the 12th November!
Not only that, we will also be hearing from the Managing Director as he reviews the growth of the school in his year of leadership. Managing Partner of Baker Tilly, Mr Sim Guan Seng and Deputy Managing Partner of Deloitte, Dr Ernest Kan also share their insights on the accountancy industry in this October issue.
If you have missed out on the launch of our University of London Masters of Science in Professional Accountancy programme, we have also brought you the details and happenings right here!
Last but not least, don’t miss out on the gratitude messages from our graduands, showing their love and gratitude to their beloved families and lecturers!
Enjoy your read!
For feedback and contributions, please feel free to email us at marcomms@saage.edu.sg.

FEATURED HEADLINES

SAA-GE’s Managing Director moves on to greater challenges!

Written by: Kaylen Tang

After more than one year into his leadership at SAA Global Education, Mr Branson Kwok announces his departure from the school to move to other challenges in the education industry.

His one year of leadership made many impactful changes to the school and brought the school one step closer to his vision of transforming the school to being the first choice private accountancy school in Singapore and in the region.

“I can sense greater comradeship among the staff today as compared to the time when I first came into the school. Ever since I took over the helm, I have started many cross functional groups, encouraging staff to develop new skillsets and to cultivate better teamwork amongst the various departments.” shared Branson.

With new programmes launching and new initiatives in place, Branson believes that the school will continue to excel as a specialist school in accountancy, in Singapore and in the region.

“Recently we have successfully launched the University of London (UOL) Masters of Science in Professional Accountancy. I believe this qualification would be a great asset for many accounting professionals. The school is also committed to a two-year schedule in advance to help students plan their working commitments better” said Branson

Being an advocate of “education for life”, Branson shared that he loved his job simply because it is an opportunity to create impact on people. One of the ways he achieve this value is by creating a culture of a “School with heart” – Treating every student as an individual and doing our best as a school to help them, making an impact in their lives.

Some of the initiatives rolled out through the “School with heart” initiative are through scholarships programmes and also by forging strategic alliances with industry partners, referring our students to accountancy firms, giving students a better opportunity for their career.

“I have trust and faith that this school would move forward, even without me leading it. Throughout my year in SAA Global Education, I believe every employee gained some new skills through the cross functioning teams set up and were given space to progress.” Branson commented

Asked about his leadership style, Branson shared that he learnt a lot from his previous bosses, “when you trust that a staff can have the capability to manage, you should give the staff enough space to develop their own skills and leadership capabilities”

“I don’t see myself as a great leader. But one thing I learned when I was growing up is to listen to people. When people know you are willing to listen and learn from them they open up to share more of their thoughts and ideas. You need not necessarily follow everything they say, but there’s always good things you can pick up and learn from them.” said Branson.

Another important quality in a leader that Branson highlighted is also the willingness to humble yourself and change your decisions whenever new information comes in that invalidates your initial decision but yet being firm when required to push a decision through challenges, and of course, knowing the difference between both.

Coming from a background in accountancy, and becoming a Managing Director today, Branson advises students pursuing accountancy career to keep enhancing their skillsets and capabilities.

“Accounting really is the language of business. We know every aspects of the business even without being in it because we handle the accounts of the entire business. Accountants generally are the most informed people in the organisation. Therefore, advancing your career from purely functional accounting into managerial role is not difficult. But you have to keep learning and do something which IT cannot replace you, perhaps in terms of analysis or giving advice.” shared Branson.

“I am convinced that the accountancy profession will continue to grow in Singapore and in the region. Each of the ASEAN country has different accountancy skillsets required to cater for the different economies, some developing, some well-developed. And there is definitely great potential for every aspiring accountant to excel in their career.” said Branson

Asked about his regrets in his career and what’s ahead for him, Branson shared “I have never regretted any part of my career. Throughout my career, I always volunteer to take on new initiatives. So I can develop new skillsets and capabilities for my next job. Perhaps the slight regret would be working too hard and not spending enough time with the family. But I think that is a common regret for every businessman. “Moving forward I will bring all the experiences I have gained in SAA Global Education into a job that would create meaningful impact on people, that I believe would bring the greatest satisfaction for me.”

Editor: SAA Global Education would like to thank Mr Branson Kwok for his dedication and commitment towards the school for the past year and we wish him all the best in his next endeavour.

[Part 1] – Building a career in accountancy: Dr Ernest Kan, Deputy Managing Partner of Deloitte Singapore

Written by: Kaylen Tang

Few would have known that the Deputy Managing Partner (Markets) of Deloitte Singapore today, Dr Ernest Kan who holds great influence not only in one of the Big 4 professional services firms, but also the accountancy profession, started off with a humble background.

Coming from a less than average income family, Dr Kan faced financial difficulties while he was pursuing his studies. His experience ultimately became one of the reasons why he set up a scholarship fund for the students of SAA Global Education (SAA-GE) today.

“I feel deeply for students who want to pursue higher education yet do not have the financial means to do so. When I was younger, I wished I had the necessary financial support to further my education and to undertake tuition programmes. Now that I have the ability, I want to help these students who face financial difficulties,” shared Dr Kan.

Unlike many students in Singapore, Dr Kan pursued his ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels education in the UK. “Money was everything when I was studying in the UK. I was thankful for the education grants provided by the UK government but I also had to work on certain nights as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant, during weekends and throughout my vacation so as to have enough for my living expenses,” Dr Kan said.

“I also had to take on more courses including night classes each semester simply because I did not have enough resources to take my time to study. And because of the lack of finances, I had to make sure, I pass every single examination. I could not afford to fail, because that would have meant failing my family as well,” added Dr Kan.

When asked how he managed to overcome all the difficulties when he was younger, he shared, “Resilience! It is those hostile environments that brought me here today. I learnt to be resilient because of my circumstances. I believe, more than technical knowledge, it is the resilience that drives people to be successful. One must have the inner strength to continue despite all odds.”

“The younger generation are born in a different social and economic background to when I was growing up. There is a larger safety net for them today but during my time, there were little choices. We had to build our future from ground zero. But I am appreciative of what I have gone through, for without it, I would perhaps not be as successful today,” Dr Kan commented.

During his mid-career stage, Dr Kan also lectured in SAA-GE for modules relating to Auditing and Financial Accounting and has also published a book on audit framework where all royalties went into the scholarship fund managed by SAA-GE.

“I enjoy passing on knowledge, and that is why I took up the lecturing position in SAA-GE. There’s a great sense of achievement in helping students to understand the concepts and to pass their examinations with flying colours. ” shared Dr Kan.

Having been in close contact with many students in the course of his lecturing stint, Dr Kan holds this advice for students, “If I can sum up all my advice into three words, it would be ‘Don’t give up!’ But to get to these three words, it is also important for students to know what they want.” When Dr Kan was in secondary school, he wanted to become a pilot and even a civil engineer. “It was only during my ‘O’ levels that I started to enjoy accounting. After ‘O’ levels, I loved accountancy so much that I decided to pursue my degree in accountancy, and studied with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to become a Chartered Accountant. It is only when I knew what I want to pursue, that I became motivated to persevere through all the challenges.”

Dr Kan has since retired from his lecturer position due to frequent work travel demands for his full-time role in Deloitte. As the Deputy Managing Partner (Markets) of Deloitte Singapore, Dr Kan interacts with many levels of employees in the organisation, including fresh graduates entering the accountancy industry. “Every year, Deloitte recruits about 200 fresh graduates. Graduates who stand out from the crowd are those who possess the attitude to go the extra mile. It is an attitude of ‘needing to prove something to the organisation’ that will differentiate you from the rest of your peers.”

Dr Kan shared, “Nothing is easy if you want to be successful. Hardship is common place if you want to climb up the corporate ladder, but it is important to stay focus and be self-driven.”

As a supervisor and leader wearing multiple hats, Dr Kan shared that he always appreciates staff who are able to bring solutions to challenging problems. “It is in times of crisis that you can prove yourself to be different. Don’t think problems would be there forever, instead learn to provide solutions.”

His final words for the students, “When faced with a difficult situation, one needs to have the mind-set that no problem lasts forever and nothing is impossible in overcoming the challenges.”

Dr Kan has over 30 years of professional experience. He is also the Regional Southeast Asia Head of Global IFRS and Offerings Services, Board Member of the Global Chinese Services Group and Southeast Asia Regional Head, Chartered Accountant of ICAEW, Chartered Certified Accountant of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), CPA of CPA Australia and a practising member of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA). Dr Kan holds a PhD in Business Administration.

Stay tuned to our next issue of the SAA-GE’s Message to find out more from Dr Ernest Kan on his views of the current trends in the accountancy industry and the initiatives Deloitte Singapore is working on.

An exclusive interview with Managing Partner of Baker Tilly TFW

Written by: Kaylen Tang

SAA Global Education had the privilege of interviewing Baker Tilly TFW’s Managing Partner; Mr Sim Guan Seng. Baker Tilly TFW is one of the 10 largest accountancy and business advisory firms in Singapore.

Having been in the public and commercial accounting line for more than 25 years, Mr Sim comes with a wealth of experience. In this article, he shares more about his work and career journey.

“After graduating with a Bachelor of Accountancy (Honours) at the National University of Singapore in 1983, I began my career at Arthur Andersen. Years later, I was eventually appointed Head of Operations with stock-broking house GK Goh. I started my own accountancy and business services firm in 1992, which merged with Baker Tilly TFW in 2004. Today, as Managing Partner of Baker Tilly TFW, my role is to provide strategic direction and oversee the day-to-day operations of the firm, as well as our internal practice development initiatives.” shared Mr Sim.

On why he chose to pursue a career in accountancy, Mr Sim said: “Accountancy was a field I grew to be passionate about after enrolling in my university studies. Apart from the draw of being in a respected profession, I personally find it a very rewarding line of work that brings plenty of fulfilment. Being an accountant allows me to help people by solving some of their most teething business problems.”

On the new initiatives and developments at Baker Tilly TFW, he said: “With the firm expanding to meet our clients’ growing needs, we have been working on developing new service lines and developing our employees’ capabilities to ensure they are well equipped with the right skills. We’re also moving towards regionalisation, with Baker Tilly TFW in Singapore functioning as a hub to better service our clients’ regional business needs. As part of the Baker International network, we work hand-in-hand with our member firms within ASEAN to provide clients with a seamless service experience.”

When asked about the upcoming trends that he foresees will take place in the accounting industry, Mr Sim said: “Definitely an increase in productivity within the accounting industry, alongside other industries, as we embrace technology at the workplace. We’re also in an age of rapid digitalisation and interconnectivity, which could translate into a rise in flexi-working arrangements.”

Of course, as with every profession, being an accountant comes with its own set of challenges. “One of the challenges I faced when I first started out my career in accountancy, was the long working hours. I’m going to be honest – it is a demanding profession which can place a strain on work-life balance. However, the satisfaction derived from helping clients far outweighs this demand.” Mr Sim commented.

Another ongoing challenge that Mr Sim believes many others in the profession also face, is the ever-changing business environment. “As accounting professionals, it is important for us to keep abreast of new developments and be agile enough to tackle the business challenges arising from these changes,” he said.

Of course, it is a well-known fact that one of the pressing issues faced by the accounting industry lies in the recruitment and retention of its employees. “We continue to see people leaving the auditing profession within 3 years but I believe that this is an industry-wide issue faced by our peers due to the nature of the work which for example, require long hours, as well as a shift in the cultural and behavioural patterns of millennials entering the workforce. The high staff turnover rate across the industry definitely requires a longer-term solution. For example, it is important to find ways to understand the millennial psyche, effectively engage them and hopefully retain them. One of the ways we’re tackling this issue is through our robust staff development and mentoring programmes.”

How big a role does education play when it comes to excelling in the accounting industry? “I would say that education is important when it comes to equipping the individual with the basic skills and providing a stepping stone into the accounting industry. However, to excel as an accounting professional takes a lot more. One important factor is experience, and students who embark on work attachments during their studies find it easier to adapt to the workplace after they graduate. Of course, there’s the whole other gamut of success contributors such as having the right attitude, the willingness to learn and adapt, hard work as well as focus.” said Mr Sim.

To aspiring accountants, Mr Sim has a word of advice: “Apart from technical excellence, it is important to develop a good set of communication and soft skills in order to work effectively with various internal and external stakeholders throughout the course of one’s career. In order to succeed as an accounting professional, it is also important to have a keen interest in business, as accountants fundamentally exist to help clients meet their business needs. I would also advise fresh graduates and students pursuing an accounting career to set career goals and persevere towards achieving those goals. That’s the key to long-term career success.”

GRADUATION SPECIAL

A Parent’s secret to her child’s success

Written by: Joeylyn Lee

Graduation is the time where one will celebrate the sweet results of their hard work and achievements. However, the hidden heroes behind the scenes are often forgotten. In this season of celebration, we interviewed one of the hidden heroes who is always showing her unwavering support to her child so that she can focus on her studies with all her heart, mind and soul and ultimately achieving success.

We met up with the parent of our First-Class Honours graduate from University of Plymouth (PU), Varlin Vernanda, to find out the secret behind her child’s outstanding academic achievements.

Madam Fenni believes that she should not give her child any restriction that would hinder the cultivation of their critical thinking abilities and independence. She gives Varlin the freedom and space she needs when it comes to the selection of course and venue of study.

Because of her parent’s openness, Varlin studied in SAA Global Education and complete her dual-degree program with the University of Plymouth and UPH Surabaya, “We chose SAA-GE as it is according to the majors that my daughter liked and it could help my daughter to achieve the future goals that she has set for herself.”

Parents are always the best supporters towards a child’s education journey. Throughout Varlin’s learning journey, she enjoys the freedom to do what she likes and Madam Fenni supported her through both moral and material support. She ensures that her child has the most conducive environment to study in with her essential needs well-met.

Whenever Varlin is dejected or has a lack of motivation towards her studies, she will always be there for her to encourage and motivate her child. Though, not an expert in Varlin’s field of study but she did what a parent could do – to always let her child know that she will be by her side no matter what challenges she is facing and encourages her to make more efforts with the clear goal in mind.

Understanding the need to have a study and life balance, Madam Fenni always advise her child with the 3Ss motto in Bahasa Indonesia, “Santai, Serius and Sukses”, which translates to “Relax, Serious and Success”. Knowing the right time to relax and to be serious is the secret behind all of Madam Fenni’s support and motivation which eventually leads to Varlin’s achievements.

“I wish my daughter can apply the knowledge she had acquired in her course of study into her workplace, and excel in her profession.” She replied when asked what her goals were for Varlin.

“It is very rewarding for me to be able to see Varlin graduate with great results and achieve a First-Class Honours. My best wish upon her graduation is for her to use the knowledge that she obtained for the benefit of many people.” shared Madam Fenni.

The love from the unwavering pillar of support

Written by: Joeylyn Lee

Being a student, the only one focus is to study and achieve good results. However, this is not the case for our ACCA graduate, Michelle Goh. Like many working adults, she needs to balance between her studies as well as her hectic work schedule. On top of that, Michelle also juggles with family commitments after having started her own family – to spend time with her 4-year-old son.

Michelle is lucky to have a strong pillar of support that cheered her on throughout her journey in obtaining the ACCA professional qualification. Her husband, Edwin Goh shared his loving tips on the 3Cs that he abides to, as he faithfully supports his wife’s education journey. “I guess the main ways I have supported my wife is via the 3Cs – Care, Cook and Chauffeur.” He shared.

By caring, he shows concerns each time Michelle is tired and will be there for her by having a chat with her or even a simple massage. “Just by caring for her, being by her side and listening to her would have given her the encouragement to continue on.” Edwin shared.

“To cook is to make sure food is prepared on the table so that she can have a wonderful meal and study with a full stomach. I always try to make sure that food and snacks are always available for my wife and will also make an effort to buy her some nice food that she likes to show my encouragement.” said Edwin.

And by chauffeuring, Edwin is always willing to be Michelle’s personal chauffeur. “Each time she goes to school or to return home, I will always drive her to-and-fro” Edwin shared.

He admits that it is not an easy feat for Michelle to balance between studies, work and family. “I will try to plan my schedule to fit hers so that it will not disrupt our family life. I will leave her alone when I know it is time for her to study. Of course, there will also be time that is allocated to family where we will go for a family dine-out on weekends with our son.”

At times when Michelle meets with difficulties in her studies, Edwin will cheer her on by bringing her focus to other matters and taking her mind off her studies. “I believe it is better to take your mind off the problems for awhile through some light jokes or short chitchats. So that when she gets back to face her problems again, she will have fresh ideas and perspectives to come up with the solution. “I’m not accountancy-trained. So, in a way, there is nothing else I can really do, but to show encouragement. And these are the least I could do, as family, and as a husband.” He shared.

As much as Michelle is the one who has completed her studies, Edwin felt that the same sense of joy has resonated with him. “It has been a tough and challenging journey for Michelle as she studies for the qualification. But I hope that with this newly found knowledge, she will be able to put it into use in her company and bring the business to the next level.”

With th graduation ceremony approaching, Edwin would like to tell his beloved wife, “Dear, you have done it and therefore make use of the knowledge that you have learnt here to bring the business to a greater height. All the best, you can do it!”

Words of Gratitude

Written by: SAA-GE Class of 2016 Graduates

“I would like to especially thank Mr Goh Sher Wee. Although he can be really fierce at times during classes but I can understand his frustrations when he sees his students not putting in the required effort to pass the exams. He gets frustrated because he CARES for us. I remembered the times when he pushed me to put in more effort. That period was really stressful, having to balance work, family and studies. I remembered the times that I broke down. I am glad it is all over. It would not have been over without his “scolding”. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Mr Goh.”

Michelle Goh Rou Zhen

ACCA

“I’m thankful that my parents suggested me to take up a course at SAA-GE. I’m glad that I met friendly friends here who helped me a lot through my studies. Lectures are very helpful in helping me to revise and giving so much guidance throughout my studies.”

Jessica

University of London (UOL)

Diploma Economics

Merit

“First of all, I would like to thank my parents for all the endless support throughout my education journey.Thank you Mr Tan Peng Kwee for all the valuable knowledge shared which I couldn’t have learnt elsewhere. Also, thank you Mr Goh Sher Wee, for the outstanding way of teaching, so that passing P6 and P7 altogether was a piece of cake. Last but not least, I would like to thank my friends, Foo Hui Chian, Riddhi Maru and Siddhi Maru. Knowing you guys has made ACCA journey more fun!”

Erika Margawi

ACCA

“Thank You, for all the help and patience I have received. I would like to thank my family, friends and lecturers for the wonderful memories you all have given me.”

Wong Chai Hua

Plymouth University

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Accounting and Finance

Second Lower Class Honours

“A thousand thanks to all my family and friends who have been by my side as my pillar of support and my classmates whom we worked hard together to get good grades. Definitely not forgetting the SAA-GE staffs who have offered me their help to the best of their abilities. Most importantly, I am thankful to have great lecturers who are patient, helpful and supportive whenever I need clarifications on matters pertaining to my studies.”

Tan Liew Siew

University of London (UOL)

Bachelor of Science (Honours) Business 

Second Class Honours (Lower Division)

“Thank you SAA-GE staff for all your kindness towards us and helping us in every circumstance. Thank you lecturers for the patience in teaching us.”

Shera Winarti

SAA Global Education

Diploma in Business Management

“I would like to thank my bosses for supporting me until I completed the course, my family and church friends for their prayers. Thank you lecturers for imparting your knowledge for us to be able to pass all the exams and a big thank you to SAA-GE for giving us a conducive place and environment to study. I thank God above all, for giving me wisdom to pass all the exams.”

Eden-Heart Campillanos Gesulgon

Specialist Certificate in Taxation (ATTS)

“Many thanks to my family providing me support to complete my study.”

Wang Yichao

ACCA

“I’d do it all again just to make you proud. From, an unlikely scholar.”

Keith Chun Kwan Tsang

Macquarie University

Master of Applied Finance (MAFC)

PAST EVENTS

Launch of University of London MSc in Professional Accountancy

Written by: Teo Chua Chin

SAA Global Education (SAA-GE) launched the University of London MSc in Professional Accountancy (MPAcc) on the 1st October 2016. This event was graced by Mr Vincent Lim, Chief Financial Officer, Asia Pacific of Datalogic and Treasurer of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA). It was hosted by Mr Branson Kwok, Managing Director of SAA-GE.

More than 90 participants registered and attended the event to learn more about this new MSc programme. Mr Branson Kwok shared with the audience the strengths of SAA-GE ( the education arm of ISCA) and University College London (UCL) that provides the academic leadership for the MPAcc programme. He highlighted that UCL was ranked:

  • 7 by QS World University Rankings® 2015/16
  • 14 by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015 – 2016

Our guest speaker, Mr. Vincent Lim shared with the attendees his interesting life experience on how he eventually embarked on attaining a master degree. With the valuable journey that Vincent has been through, Vincent leaves the attendees with his personal quote:

 ‘The journey of a thousand miles starts by first wearing the sock’.

Due to the overwhelming responses from the enthusiastic attendees, SAA-GE then held a separate Course Preview, Dialogue Session & Enrolment Day on 14th October 2016. In this dialogue session, attendees had the chance to cast their queries directly to the Programme Director from University of London (UOL), Ms. Lynsie Chew. Our Acting Academic Director, Mr. Teo Chua Chin also shared with the attendees on the 2-year plan that SAA-GE has in store for our MPAcc students.

With the two events that took place, SAA-GE has now officially started enrolling students for our MPAcc programme together with a short course in Business Research Seminar.

The MPAcc programme is for:

  • ACCA members and affiliates to top-up their ACCA qualification with a UOL master’s degree, and hence stand out in the crowd in terms of their qualification. (Pathway 2); and
  • Current ACCA students to gain a master’s degree alongside the ACCA qualification, as the modules taken will be recognised as having attained equivalent passes for the equivalent ACCA Professional level option papers P4 and P5 (Pathway 1) 

To find out more, kindly visit: http://mpacc.saage.edu.sg or email uol_msc@saage.edu.sg

FEATURED STUDENTS

Having a second chance – opportunity is always for the ones who are prepared

Written by: Joeylyn Lee

Graduation marks a new journey in life and this is extremely significant for our SAA Global Education’s (SAA-GE) scholarship holder, Ong Hui Fen. After graduating from her Diploma in International Supply Chain at Ngee Ann Polytechnic with an outstanding GPA of 3.96, she is now on her road to success with a degree from University of London (UOL) BSc in Economics Management.

However, her first attempt at tertiary education which ended after she failed her exams three times was not a successful one. Only when she ventured into the working world, did she realized the importance of having a proper qualification and re-attempted her tertiary education in 2010 with a private institution. But despite obtaining her Diploma in Digital Media with the private institution, she was not able to secure her desired career as she does not have the relevant experiences required. Thereafter, she made her second attempt to attain the Diploma in International Supply Chain with Ngee Ann Polytechnic which she ended up obtaining the outstanding GPA, topping her cohort.

Hui Fen had a huge age gap with most of her peers when she resumed her tertiary education back in 2010. She faced a lot of difficulties back then with the sudden switch in her daily activities. Her biggest challenge is the time constraint that she has while having to cope with both her studies and work. Time management and self-discipline are the two key factors that she always reminds herself to adhere to.

She commented that it was hard for her to get her momentum going. “In the past after I knock off, I don’t have to worry about anything and there will be ample time to rest. Then suddenly, I have to set aside time to go school, to study and finish up my homework. It was really very tiring.” She added.

At first, Hui Fen was worried that she will not be able to complete her tertiary education as she had to juggle between work and studies. She was grateful to her classmates back then who helped her a lot in her studies. “At that time, I always knocked off very late, by the time I reach the class; I would have missed a huge part of the lesson. My classmates were very selfless, they taught me and helped me a lot for the part of lessons that I have missed.” She recalled. At last, she not only managed to complete her diploma but also topped the cohort for it.

“At my graduation ceremony, my mother said she had waited 16 years for this moment. It was like a present to her that was 16 years late.”

Someone once told her that a degree is the ticket into the interview room. After graduating from the diploma, she was even more determined to achieve a degree qualification for better job prospects and opportunity.

With recommendations and encouragement from her younger sisters who studied in SAA-GE, she decided to enrol into the University of London (UOL) BSc in Economics and Management with us.

Currently two months into her degree programme, Hui Fen feels she is coping well for the lessons. She strongly believes that with constant practice and efforts to understand the lessons, she will stay on par with her peers. She even bought assessment books to brush up on her Mathematics skills, as it has been long since she last attempted them.

Currently, 33 years old, she considers herself a late bloomer in pursing higher qualifications. There were times where she feels frustrated when she see peers around her being successful in their careers while she is still struggling to get a better qualification. However, this does not stop her from achieving her goals. “Personally, I am a very competitive person. I have done well in my diploma education; I want to do well in my degree too. “

When asked about study tips for outstanding results, she recommended thinking out of the box. “Find other ways that will make it easier for you to understand. For example, you can ask your classmates to explain it to you in an easier layman term. Or you can read up until you find an easier explanation that would help you to. If you are not able to understand a certain point and you try to go forward, you will find it harder to progress in your studies.” She shared about her studying experiences.

She is very grateful for SAA-GE to offer her the scholarship and provided her with this opportunity to pursue higher education. To her, opportunities do not come by easily and she wants to be well-prepared for every opportunity that is available to her. Working towards her goals might not be easy, but she ensures she keeps her mind-set positive to spur herself forward.

“As you age, you start to realise you need to pursue and work towards your goals. It is not a matter of your intelligence but a matter of perseverance. As long as you set your mind on your goals, you can work hard and achieve them.”

From SIM-GE to SAA-GE, the experience and the transition

Written by: Joeylyn Lee

Graduation marks both an end of an education journey and a beginning for a new adventure. For Sharan, Shuh Yuan, Yi Zhen, Yi Qian and Ai Lu, their completion of studies in SIM Global Education (SIM-GE) for the University of London (UOL), BSc in Accountancy and Finance programme also propelled them to begin a new adventure to pursue the ACCA professional qualification with SAA Global Education (SAA-GE). 
 
The SAA-GE Message’s editorial team took the opportunity to meet with these 5 ladies to find out more on their recent adventure into this professional qualification. With their bachelor degree from UOL, they managed to gain 7 exemptions for the ACCA programme. 
 
They had taken on the ACCA programme as it is recognized globally and they are able to gain exemptions for the programme because of their degree. “Both ACCA and UOL programmes are from the UK pathway, thus there won’t be a shift of focus,” Sharan added.
 
Ai Lu shared that one of their classmates had prior working experiences before pursuing the ACCA qualification as a full time student. This again proves to them that ACCA is a well-recognised professional qualification in the industry that is worth their time and effort to attain it. “Even after working, you will still need this certificate for better career prospects.” Yi Qian added.
 
While they were searching for a reputable school to embark on their ACCA journey, recommendations were provided by various sources and SAA-GE is one of the key schools that were highlighted repeatedly in their circle of influence due to the school’s specialisation in accountancy. “SAA-GE is formerly known as the Singapore Accountancy Academy and is a specialised school for accountancy programmes thus I decided to embark on my education journey with the school.” Yi Qian shared
 
Yi Zhen shared that prior to enrolment, she did some research regarding the passing rates and the career options available. She made the decision to enroll with the school after gathering all the information which proves the credibility of the school. 
 
“I love the smaller class size for larger learning space concept that SAA-GE is bringing to the students. Because of the compact class size, I get to have more attention from the lecturers and it makes my learning experience much better as compared to the big lecture hall experience I have previously.” Sharan shared. 
 
“The pace of the lecturer is great, not too fast and not too slow giving us enough time to absorb concepts and making sure we have enough time to understand and review what we have learnt.” Sharan added.
 
SAA-GE wishes them great success in their continuing education journey and will continue to do our best to ensure their transition from pursuing a degree qualification to a professional qualification would be an easy transition with a fruitful experience!

ACCA student clinched job with Ernst & Young through SAA-GE’s Career Talk!

Written by: Kaylen Tang

Nicoll Sng, ACCA student of SAA-GE received a job offer from Ernst & Young (EY), (one of the big 4 firms) through the career talk which was conducted on 11 August 2016 at SAA-GE.
In August this year, through the collaboration between SAA-GE and EY, Mr Sam Lo, Partner, Assurance from EY came to the school to share more to the ACCA students of SAA-GE about a career with the firm.
During the talk, students were given the opportunity to pursue a career with the reputable firm and be part of the sponsorship programme where EY would sponsor their tuition fees for part-time study while they work on a full-time job with the firm.
“Be sincere and genuine. I think that is something very important when I went for the interview with EY.” shared Nicoll when asked what she thought was most important when applying for the job with EY.
“I was uncertain at first. There is pressure in wanting to start off my career with one of the very well-established companies in the industry. But I really didn’t want to lose this opportunity. I tell myself, if I want it, I need to go for it!” said Nicoll.
Coming from the Millennia Institute’s dual track programme in Advanced Diploma in Psychology and GCE A-Levels, Nicoll felt that accountancy is very applicable to managing personal finance. In her words, “Everyone should learn accountancy just to be more financial-savvy. It is like general knowledge that everyone should know so as to better handle their personal finances.”
Knowing that SAA-GE offers ACCA programmes, is conveniently located, and has good reviews on the lecturers online, Nicoll enrolled with the school without any hesitation.
Despite being the youngest child in the family, Nicoll started working at a very young age through various temporary jobs, exposing herself in a wide range of activities including marathon running, photography, being a tuition teacher and a camp instructor.
One of the noteworthy temporary jobs she had was a 6-months stint with Deloitte (another Big 4 accounting firm) a few months back, doing GES Taxation.
“I like the fact that in SAA-GE you have a lot of student activities. Every now and then there will be talks where students can attend. It is very inspiring and motivating for the students. Not only that, I managed to talk to the Managing Director of SAA-GE, Mr Branson Kwok during the EY career talk and was really inspired by his story where he was studying in Australia and working in a Chinese restaurant, serving a regular customer whom he didn’t know was a partner in the earlier years of Ernst and Young – Ernst and Whinney. But because of the sincerity and genuineness through serving him as a waiter in the Chinese restaurant, he got the opportunity to be interviewed and eventually clinched the job with Ernst and Whinney while he was studying. Because of what Mr Branson shared, I am inspired to pursue the career opportunity with Ernst and Young, taking up the challenge of working full time and studying ACCA part time”, shared Nicoll.
Nicoll shared that she intends to stay in auditing for at least 3 years before considering other possibilities such as job rotation and ultimately landing herself in a teaching career as an accountancy lecturer.
“I find it a blessing to impart knowledge to other people. Even in the accountancy job itself, you also need to communicate with other people, and to lead people. It is actually similar in becoming a lecturer where you need to lead the students and communicate with them. “In SAA-GE, lecturers are very responsible and have great patience. They have the experience and knowledge of the industry. Hence, they can share a lot of real life examples. This serves as an example for me too.” said Nicoll, enthusiastically.
For juniors intending to enter the field of accountancy, Nicoll shared that it is important to have passion in whatever you are pursuing. Make your resume relevant to your employers and cultivate good communication skills. “The future might be full of challenges, but persevere on. With determination and the right attitude, I am very sure you can make it!”
“To sum it up, I am very grateful to SAA-GE for providing these opportunities to students, resulting in me being able to land a job and sponsorship with EY. And to the rest of the students in SAA-GE, I just want to encourage you to be brave, sincere, and to pursue every opportunity relevant and available for you!” shared Nicoll.

OTHERS

Juggling between work and studies, the pros and cons

Written by: Joeylyn Lee

Having read so many stories about students in the campus, the Message’s editorial team brings you an inspirational story from one of our writers in the team.
Unlike many students these days, Wong Jin Shien, 24, worries about not being able to complete her studies here in Singapore.
Born and brought up in Malaysia, Jin Shien came to Singapore to pursue an A Levels qualification after completing her SPM qualification (O-Level equivalent) in Malaysia. It was a decision made jointly by her and her parents as they believe that studying in Singapore will give her a better edge. “The quality of the education system in Singapore is more established and challenging.” She shared.
It was a struggle to her at first as she had no prior experience in studying abroad alone. With Mandarin as her mother tongue, another challenge that she faced in Singapore was the English speaking environment. It took her a period of time to adjust to the difference in culture and language.
During her 7 years in Singapore, she completed her A Levels with results that would earn her an entry ticket into the local university. However, it was then that she decided to be financially independent and to support herself for the rest of her education journey. “I prefer not to add additional burdens to my parents as they are supporting my brothers’ studies as well.” She commented. With her determination to receive higher education locally, her only choice was to get a job while she continues to pursue her studies as a part-time student.
It was a tough decision to make, working and studying at the same time. Most people she met would have advised her not to take this path as they find it challenging and difficult to juggle between work and study. However, she was steadfast in her decision.
With that determination, she attained an Advanced Diploma in Mass Communication and is now pursuing a BSc in Multimedia Technology and Design with SIM University.
While pursuing her degree, she was also given the opportunity to gain experiences relating to her course of study in her work place by cross-functioning in the Marketing and Communications team on top of her usual job scope.
Currently in her 5th year of juggling between work and studies, her major challenge was to meet the various deadlines, from work and assignments. There were times where she feels exhausted, especially when she needs to attend her night classes after a full day of work. “I am always envious of my friends who are able to enjoy their campus life and have fun with their schoolmates while studying. For me, they are really the privileged ones.” she shared.
She was very grateful that the management had been very supportive of her studies. Her supervisors were very understanding and allowed her to take study leave when she needed to rush her assignments.
Despite her hectic work and class schedules, she made the effort to find a balance between, work, school and life. She advises students who are working and studying at the same time to plan ahead and ensure that they find time to unwind on top of their busy schedule to progress further.
She appreciates the time she has on weekends, to return to Malaysia and to meet up with close friends. “The long talks over coffee helps me to destress and take me off my busy thoughts,” she shared when asked how she manages to recharge herself.
When asked if she ever regretted making the decision to work and study at the same time, she shared “Life is all about choices. The different choices you make will result in who you are today. I do not regret my choice in taking this path, even though it is very exhausting. At the end of the day, I think what really matters to me is not the piece of qualification, but the knowledge I learnt from the course and experience I gained from work along the way. I feel happy and contented to be able depend on myself, do my best in pursuing what I want.”

Graduation Ceremony in Plymouth University

Written by: Varlin Vernanda

Varlin Vernanda, First-class Honours graduate for the Plymouth University’s Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Finance shares her experience attending the graduation ceremony in Plymouth University, UK:
I was elated when SAA Global Education informed me that due to my outstanding achievements I was invited to attend the Plymouth University (PU) graduation ceremony in the UK. PU would be sponsoring all my air tickets, accommodation and transport for the whole trip.
As it is my first trip to the UK, I am really excited about it and was all ready to explore the town the moment I touch down. Unlike Singapore which is warm all year round, it was cold in UK when I arrived at Heathrow airport on 18th of September.
It takes approximately 4 hours for me to reach Plymouth from the Heathrow airport. Everyone I met along the way was very helpful and friendly. After reaching Plymouth, I went around town to explore the area. Plymouth was generally a quiet town where shops cease operations around 7pm or 8pm in the evening.
The graduation ceremony for Plymouth University was held between 19 September to 23 September 2016 and for the Bachelor in Accounting and Finance programme, it was held on the 20 September 2016, at 1pm. A total of eight students from SAA-GE attended the graduation ceremony in UK.
I was full of excitement throughout the process of collecting my graduation gown and getting dressed to be led to the hall. When we were seated in the hall, the Dean then gave his speech and we were called by name to receive our certification on stage. It really was a moment of pride and happiness when I receive the certification from the Dean. It felt like all my hard work is for this very moment.
After which, the student representative gave a speech before we march out from the hall where the Dean and the lecturers applauded for us, celebrating our achievements together with us. It was a memorable experience for me and I am really thankful I made the decision to continue to upgrade myself and to pursue through my studies.
After the ceremony we managed to spend time talking to fellow graduates and also the Dean and lecturers over lunch. I really enjoy the canape they prepared for us.
Though it was a short trip and I went back to Singapore on the day after the graduation ceremony. I am glad it will always serve as a memorable experience for me. I am grateful to SAA Global Education and Plymouth University for the sponsorship and arrangements making the end of my University graduation a great one!

SAA GLOBAL EDUCATION CENTRE PTE LTD
The Education Arm of Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants

111 Somerset Road #06-01/02 TripleOne Somerset, Singapore 238164
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