Role: vice president
Highlights: being at the cutting edge of business development in the shared service sector
Boonsiri Somchit-Ong is happy to admit that her career choice was a shock to her parents. Even at school, Boon dreamed of becoming an accountant, but coming from a family of teachers, her father wanted her to follow in the footsteps of her brothers and sisters.
‘When I told them that I had signed up to do a CIMA qualification, they were surprised. They had no idea what that was,’ she chuckles. ‘My father was very keen for me to go to university and get a degree that would allow me to teach, but even at a very young age I’d set my heart on doing something that would be related to money and business. I may have surprised my father at the beginning, but in the end I am glad that I’ve managed to prove to him that I made the right choice for me.’
Today, Boon plays a key role in the management of AMD’s Global Accounting and Financial Services Organisation. As one of the first global shared service centres in Malaysia, AMD is at the cutting edge of business development. Boon is responsible for ensuring that her 200 strong global team delivers first class accounting services support for the company’s entire global network.
‘Originally we just supported the Asian side of the business. That was easier since we were in the same timezone and most of us were able to speak most of the Asian languages, but the challenge came when we started to support Germany and the other European countries; a big change in terms of adapting to different cultures,’ she recalls.
Travelling is now a major part of Boon’s work. ‘We have GAFS staff located in Germany, the US, Canada, Singapore and China and I try to visit them as often as I can, to ensure that I get to hear from them personally any issues and concerns that I can assist them with to enable them to get their job done. Face to face meetings with my staff allows me to give them updates on what is happening within AMD and within our organisation, so that we as the global team stay aligned at all times’.
Although Boon now has many years of experience under her belt, she believes her CIMA qualification created an ideal foundation for her career. ‘CIMA was the only qualification that provided a broad business perspective and showed me how finance fits into the bigger picture. CIMA made me think and question everything,’ she explains. ‘It also provided me with the tools to analyse data and ask the right questions. The strategic thinking I learned through CIMA has been invaluable to me as I’ve progressed through my career.’
Although she turned her back on a career in teaching, Boon is keen to help her staff reach their full potential. ‘My major challenge now is to work out how to motivate my team and how to coach and mentor them to become global citizens and the future leaders of AMD,’ she says.
Boon is now the Asia Executive Sponsor for AMD’s new manager leadership development programme, ‘Licence to Lead’, which has been set up to support promising young managers. ‘The aim is to train the new managers on how to lead, understand finance, how to deal cross-culturally with their peers and staff, and most importantly how to manage their people,’ she continues. ‘We need to raise the bar and promote leadership excellence throughout the company.’
The CIMA qualification is also integral to the development of AMD’s financial support services. The shared service centre recently launched an accountancy training scheme and 18 trainees are currently being supported through their CIMA studies. In house tuition is provided and exam fees are paid – as long as the papers are passed.
‘It’s part of the Asian culture to learn by formula rather than to think independently, so this causes a problem when something happens and they have not seen it in a book or they were not taught this in school,’ Boon continues. ‘The CIMA qualification is ideal for encouraging people to think for themselves and to broaden their strategic outlook.’