Going Places

By Mel Sim

Not just about numbers, accountancy and auditing offers many exciting opportunities when with the right company. Lim Seng Siew, Regional Head overseeing Indo-China, shares why BDO is the ideal start for budding accountants.

If you think accountancy and auditing equals being desk bound and poring over numbers and ledgers, think again. BDO’s Regional Head overseeing Indo-China Lim Seng Siew says it is otherwise. “The accountancy profession is actually very wide and will provide various opportunities. “From my own experience, I have encountered many new experiences that have nothing to do with accounting,” says Lim.

Lim started his career as an audit assistant in 1999 and four years later he was seconded to the US for two years. He is what you would call a fast tracker; nine years into his career, Lim was promoted to be a partner. Since 2014, he’s been overseeing BDO’s operations in Cambodia and at the same time supports other BDO offices in the region like Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Brunei (all five countries are under the oversight of BDO Malaysia).

“When I became a partner, one of our firm’s strategies was to have regional footprints. Hence, about 10 years ago, I was given the task to set up and support the audit operations at BDO in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Around the same time, I was also tasked with setting up operations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. My involvement with these two countries in my early days as a partner provided me the opportunity to acquire valuable experience and skills in setting up operations and working in other countries amongst diverse cultures,” shares Lim.

I have encountered many new experiences that have nothing to do with accounting.

This makes Lim somewhat an expert on how to deal with diversity at the workplace. According to Lim, different cultures mean different expectations, and understanding these cultural differences will help manage the expectations. “The key thing is to be humble and learn as much as possible when faced with a new culture. Do not impose our own culture on others and always treat others with respect and sincerity,” he shares.

Currently, BDO has offices in 10 countries throughout ASEAN. This equates to ample opportunities for a young talent to build his or her career not just in Malaysia but also regionally, just like Lim. “Our playing field now is not just in Malaysia but in the region as well. We have Malaysians working in all the regional countries in various capacities. In developing countries like Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, we also have the opportunity to work on development projects that are funded by international donors such as United Nations, World Bank and Global Fund,” shares Lim.

Because of its expansion into ASEAN, Lim says that BDO is one of the fastest growing global organisation in the accounting and auditing profession. Therefore, BDO is always on the lookout for talented graduates in all of its service lines.

If you’re interested in overseas opportunities, Lim has good news: “We have secondment opportunities for our experienced staff as well as regional internship opportunities under the BDO-MyASEAN Internship Programme whereby selected vacation trainees will have the opportunity to experience working in our regional offices such as Cambodia and Myanmar.”

Needless to say, competition is tough to get into a firm like BDO so here is a piece of advice from Lim on the kind of talent the firm seeks: “We look for people who are willing to work hard and keen to learn. We greatly treasure people who place relationships as their priority and are able to work well with others as a team.”

On what makes BDO the ideal place to start an accountancy career, Lim attributes its regional footprint as one of the benefits. “BDO is the only large professional services firm in Malaysia that has oversight over five countries in ASEAN,” shares Lim. He also cites the firm's support for its employees. “We encourage innovation and the need to embrace new technologies to assist us in working more efficiently and in complying with the increasingly stringent regulatory environment. We are also very supportive of employees taking profesional exams as we would like to see more young graduates becoming professionally qualified accountants.”

BDO also services multiple clients, which is a bonus in terms of experience for its employees. "Our staff gain experience and exposure from various industries all under one roof," adds Lim.

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