Please provide a brief background of your education.
I am a Chartered Management Accountant from The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants® (CIMA), I am also a Chartered Accountant from The Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA). I hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Victoria University, Melbourne and a Bachelor Degree in Accountancy from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM).
Please provide a brief background on your work experience.
I held various management positions in large conglomerates, established groups and startup companies including IBM, edotco Malaysia Sdn Bhd (an Axiata Berhad Company) and PR1MA Communications Sdn Bhd and has gained more than 14 years of experience in financial reporting, strategic procurement, finance operations, financial management & analysis, financial evaluations, business planning, budgeting, and risk management and taxation. Currently, I am the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in MYNIC Berhad primarily responsible in providing leadership, direction and management of the finance and procurement team. I am also responsible in providing strategic business recommendations to the CEO and the Board of Directors.
What is your greatest achievement in relation to your career (if any)?
- Successfully transformed the Company tax structure and managed to save from tax leakage by 4% from the chargeable income on a yearly basis.
PR1MA Communications Sdn Bhd
- Successfully initiated the revenue streamlining programme on the ‘designated/non-designated revenue’ for the USP fund charges by MCMC through detailed and tactical analysis. This has saved the 6% of the gross revenue.
- Successfully led the Business Plan preparation and presentation for the MSC status application. The Company was granted the full MSC status in December 2017.
edotco Malaysia Sdn Bhd
- Successfully led the ‘Cost efficiency’ programme on electricity and land rental costs for the telecommunication tower sites through strategic analysis on the trending and materials usage.
IBM Malaysia Sdn Bhd
- Rated as “top performer” in 2012 for excellent performance in handling India statutory project whereby I successfully saved IBM India from paying additional tax penalty for tax review for financial year 2006-2007.
- Successfully led the HKFRS convergence to IFRS (full adoption) in 2010.
What are your aspirations in terms of your career? Where do you see yourself in 5 years' time?
My career aspiration is to enhance the value creation of finance in the organisation. I always believed that a good finance personnel should be able to become the business partner, not just as a score keeper but to evolve to become the trusted business advisor to the organisation. I have always had a clear vision in my career; which is to ensure the organisation that I work with be able to achieve effective and efficient ways of doing things, not limited to finance area but also other important areas such as procurement, human resource and the operations. By end of the day, it is about values that matters to the organisation.
What are some of the important milestones or highlights that you have charted in your life so far?
I was selected for a 7-months IBM Country Emerging Leader Programme from the worldwide pool and promoted to a manager within the programme period. I was one of the youngest accounting manager at the age of 29 years old.
I was appointed as the CFO at the age of 35 in MYNIC Berhad. I am the youngest C-suite in the Company.
How did you hear about CIMA?
I heard about CIMA during my Degree course back in 2004.
Why did you choose to get a CIMA qualification?
Simply because CIMA qualification is not just about audit, taxation, finance operation or the accounting standards but beyond that. A qualified CIMA member is able to demonstrate the leadership in steering all of the financial and non-financial (e.g. risk and governance) aspects as well as the strategic business. An accountant normally focuses on the historical and the accuracy and completeness of the financial numbers accordance to the standards which is historical information in nature. CIMA syllabuses on the other hand, focus on the unseen aspects behind the numbers. For example, I have been thought to look whether the numbers make sense to the business or otherwise by analysing the profitability, margin, applicable ratios, potential risks from the tactical business perspective and to be able to forecast the potential financial and business impact from the analysis.
How has the CIMA qualification helped you in your career?
CIMA qualification fast-tracked career. I received my full CIMA qualification when I was a manager in edotco Malaysia Sdn Bhd. Then I took up a new challenge to be the Head of Finance in a start-up company (PR1MA Communications Sdn Bhd) which I have involved in a wider spectrum of finance domain such as leading the three different business plans preparation, represent the Management in the Board of Directors meetings and successfully led the Business Plan preparation and presentation for the MSC status application. The Company was granted the full MSC status in December 2017.
I decided to pursue Master in Business Administration (MBA) with Victoria University, Melbourne Australia with four (4) exemption papers based on my CIMA qualification. I managed to complete the course within 1 year which a normal course duration is 1.5 to 2 years to complete.
Ultimately, MYNIC Berhad appointed me as the CFO in 2018 at the age of 35. I am the youngest C-suite in the Company.
What does CIMA & CGMA mean to you?
CIMA & CGMA means a lot to me. As the title differentiates myself from others. The title also carries the trust embedded in myself to demonstrate a good governance and ethical values to the Company. As a CIMA qualified member, the expectation is to also drive the change and create the value in the organisation.
In your opinion, what are the important attributes and factors that have a bearing on a person's career success?
The most important attribute is the passion of an individual, the desire to be successful in his/her career. Without passion, there is no push factor to deliver a good and quality result in the work. So, you have to follow your passion. No amount of money can substitute your experience. I can guarantee the satisfaction. My passion is always creating the aspirational changes in the organisation or individuals through real life experience. I once worked in a stable and lucrative company but I still followed my passion to be the head of finance in a start-up company because I know I can create the wave of change, get everybody together. It was challenging because I had to initiate the finance function, build the business plan/models from scratch. It was challenging yet satisfying.
What are your views on the demand for the management accountants over the next five years?
The demand for a management accountant becomes more critical due to change in the technology and the new generation into the workforce. It is not about doing the traditional accounting jobs such as record keeping but to be the differentiator and creating value in the organisation. CIMA has been the champion in keeping with the new technology and change in business landscape abreast. So, it is definitely the way forward so that a management accountant is equipped with the necessary knowledge and experience to make a difference in the business world.
What advice would you give to aspiring students who are keen on building a career as management accountants?
Create your own ladder.
Chart your own path and follow your passion. I still remember that I told my boss (director of finance) that I wanted to take up a new role as the head of finance in a start up company. She asked why, (because clearly the current company is very much stable in every way). My answer was direct and simple. I want to be a CFO before 40 (I was 32 when I resigned back then).
It was tough, yet I have learnt many things. Not only the finance areas but also procurement, human resource and most importantly the strategic business itself.
You have to carry your own weather. You should be the best version of you, not for others. I would love to see this become the breakthrough for the next generations.
What advice would you give to young people who are starting out on their career or who are about to enter the workforce?
You will fail. But fail now rather than later so that you can recover quickly, learn the lesson and move forward. That is how you progress faster especially in your career.
Do not be afraid to make mistakes but you must be able to bounce back like a tennis ball. I have experienced that people tend to over think the mistakes like who is supposed to be blamed rather than the lesson that should be learned.
I still make mistakes and wrong judgements. However, I will take the blame and fix the problem immediately.
I once went back and forth into the CEO's room for 10 times in a day to finalize a business plan. It was a stressful moment as I felt down not meeting the expectations and rounds of arguments with the CEO. But I still went back to the room and presented the revised file until it was finalized. You just have to get it done! It is about the endurance, not how smart you are.
Finally, in one sentence (12 words maximum) please describe how CIMA has added value to you.
CIMA has changed the way I think and operate completely.