Tuesday, March 02, 2010

New beginnings - 3 of 3

And finally, to the 'real' beginning. I will be pursuing a Masters of Education this September with the aim to equipping myself towards a new career. No, I don't intend to teach elementary school or secondary school, nor do I really want to teach Accounting to college students (though I'm open to it.) A little on my background first, though.

It's kind of funny that when I reflect on my life through this 'education lens,' I've always considered it important (after all, I've always loved school / going to school), but never thought it was for me (after all, I've always been a shy, poor public speaker.) And not that I'm going into teaching, but I must only attribute the path to God. Somehow, through entire career in Accounting -- public accounting, for that matter, and having worked in only one firm -- God paved a way for me to build up *some* case to get accepted into a great education program at HGSE. There was no way I could have imagined it during the various training events, revising curricula, or participating in university workshops. But they were there as a series of projects, days, and steps. Somehow, it all came together. So, as a first step, I hope to pursue this masters for foundational knowledge about the education industry.

Since I don't intend to teach, that will put me into the administrative areas. You may even ask -- wow, that's even more boring than accounting -- and that may be true from a day to day aspect. The pace will be slower, and in some ways, the people may be less 'competent'. But I see the next few years as minor first steps towards gaining new experience, and we'll see where God leads in the future. In a way, it goes back to the boring day to day again, just that instead of building a career based on amassing a body of accounting knowledge, I hope to somehow help, indirectly or directly, the students going through their paths in higher education.

It is all very uncertain, and so all I can do is offer up this vocation daily, with the discipline to live out each day with the faith that God has his greater plan. We'll see how I can share later on.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, March 01, 2010

New beginnings - 2 of 3

Actually, this is more of an ending, but the post was meant to fits within the general theme of change; I wanted to share about my reflections on the end of my first career -- of being an accountant. To be sure, I'm one of the later retirees from the accounting/auditing world, and as much as people think I'm a "lifer"-type, to me, this departure was inevitable. Many of my colleagues think it is a waste for me to leave now, since I am *so good* at explaining accounting concepts and working out accounting solutions. :p Well, I have certainly spent enough years of my youth in this mundane field, but I've no regrets and can happily look back and be thankful for it.

Now that I've gone through a couple of rounds of 'farewells' in Hong Kong, I think I can summarize my reflections on my life @ E&Y as thus:

1. Unexpected community culture - For all of us involved, we would likely attest that the E&Y TCE group in Toronto is a "special" one. To be sure, certain aspects of specialness will be different to different people, but very generally, there is an undoubted camaraderie that has grown from this otherwise typical BIg 4 audit group. To me, the specialness commences from Waterloo CCF, as a number of CCF graduates first started in the group, and in a way, pioneered a certain culture.
This culture starts with the work ethic of any responsible Canadian-Chinese, setting a pervasive feeling and observation that the partners could count on the Chinese staff will take care of the job, setting a sort of ideal as a 'good testimony through work'. Of course, uncurtailed, this culture quickly grows into workaholism, a very constant and persistent struggle. Then, beyond the on-the-job testimony, the community participated in gatherings for deeper spiritual reflections, Bible studies, and times of prayer, as we all shared in our lives for many hours in the day. We have our homes and our own church lives, and in a way, I thought this was almost the best next step outside of a university campus. I count it a blessing to consider so many friends from E&Y as part of my spiritual community.

2. Exposure - It was not easy to leave the culture in Toronto, but I came to Hong Kong with a view for exposure to more of the world, and I felt I did much of this. While I failed to go on any further MSI trips to China, I travelled quite a bit to the China (and other Asian) offices and engaged with many of those colleagues. I saw how small of a market Canada was, and realized how chaotic China is! I was exposed to a level of 'technical accounting' that I never thought I would get such opportunity. There are many mixed feelings in the above. From the people perspective, I think it is wonderful how China is quickly developing and the discrimination of Chinese colleagues is rapidly diminishing. With respect to accounting, it is all so geeky, but I am happy to have been exposed to the detailed intricacies ... for me to make the assessment that it is meaningless. Practically, I could practically envision myself in a lucrative accounting policy role at some bank, but now, being part of the 0.01% of the population that can explain the roadmap of accounting for derivatives under FAS 133, I have no more desire to pursue this path. I don't really care to be part of the esoteric group that can understand such jargon. And lastly, as a very technical point, I think the principles-based development of IFRS is a good idea but now way too abstract -- I think the application of IFRS 9 in its future full form will render financial statements meaningless! (Though, there will be significant revisions to the extant Exposure Drafts concerning financial instruments for them to be passed. :p)

3. Preparation for the next career - This is my last point -- looking back, God had his plan in preparing me for my next career in Education (the new beginning 3/3!) While my entire career-to-date has been in the accounting firm, I was able to profile myself from an educational standpoint for my application to Education school. I always felt strongly about the emphasis placed upon training in E&Y, and involved myself in such teaching activities in Toronto and in Hong Kong. In Toronto, I got to audit U of T for three years. And further, in Hong Kong, as a recruiting measure, E&Y sponsored two seminar courses at the University of Hong Kong and the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, where I got the opportunity to design those courses. All in all, looking back, I must see the preparation that God has given me towards my application, and I look forward to new studies and seeing what opportunities the new career holds.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.