Syafizatt Ehsan was a committee member of APAcS 2010/2011. Upon graduating in 2013, he started his career in audit at KPMG and today, after over 3 years of audit experience he is an Audit Assistant Manager at the same firm.
In this interview, Syafizatt kindly shares with us his take on the challenging path of an auditor, its perks and how to make the best out of both!
1. Why did you choose audit as your profession, and would you recommend us professional accounting students to do the same to start our career?
I chose the audit line because it involves practicing financial knowledge and analytical techniques to understand a certain organisation in depth, and how it particularly functions. Audit allows me to experience and exercise my audit scope of work in specialised industries such as plantation, maintenance, repair & overhaul sectors. With this exposure, I am able to understand both the accounting and business perspective of an industry.
Auditing involves many job responsibilities and it is a complex career especially when you are the senior in charge for a big audit engagement. An auditor should be able to analyse complex financial information, appreciate a company’s culture to understand its bigger picture and possess an effective communication skill – a vital key to ensure messages are delivered clearly.
I believe that kick starting a career with audit gives you a strong foundation for a career progression, a stepping stone that opens up to many opportunities in the future. But it all comes down to what you’re passionate in. Discover and consider more options. Open up to any opportunities that comes your way and make the best out of it.
2. We’ve heard of the strenuous culture of working in audit; the tight deadlines, working nights and weekends, etc. What motivates you to persevere and to keep going?
The audit profession is like a marathon. It can be challenging, difficult and demanding. Trust me! Haha! Frankly, what motivates me to keep going is that, it has been my goal since I was 16 to be a chartered accountant. My motivation comes from the job itself as it gives me the chance to develop and grow my accounting (technical) and interpersonal skills.
I must say it’s not an easy road for the past three years working as an auditor and I have sacrificed many things to achieve my career goal. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it!
No weekend, no holidays, no days off during peak period. But all hard work are paid off when you finally settle a job engagement. Determination plays an important role to keep me going. You just have to believe in yourself when no one believes in you. You got to have a vision – a vision that has the power to push you to achieve your ambition.
So stay motivated, be positive and keep going.
3. Do you think that work-life balance exist for an auditor? How do you manage yours?
Personally, work-life balance does not exist for me during peak periods (January – March) as my job engagements usually involve big group of companies and we need to keep up with tight deadlines. However, during off-peak period, work gets more relaxing and we work with less pressure. Most auditors will finally slow down during this period and enjoy themselves to achieve that work-life balance haha.
It all depends on how you manage your time. Time management is very important in many areas. For me, work is a big responsibility and will always come first. I’m very lucky that my family understands the demanding nature of my job. To balance and manage both work and life is not an easy task. The key is to prioritise and learn to determine which of the two is more important to you.
4. How has being an auditor at KPMG been rewarding for you?
Generally as an auditor, I am involved in auditing various industries which are value-adding to me, giving me the exposure to various issues associated with different industries. KPMG offers me a platform to practice my auditing and accounting skills. They have given me the opportunity to lead audit engagements and provide necessary trainings to ensure that our job can be done effectively and efficiently.
The firm pushes its employees to have a work-life balance as they find it important to keep their employees motivated. As such, KPMG organises social activities for its employees such as department trips, and annual dinner and encourages its employees to participate in inter-audit firm games.
5. What’s your advice for fresh graduates and students about preparing for the university-to-work transition?
My advice for fresh graduates and students is to discover their passion and interests and find a job that will help to achieve their true potential. Most of us make the mistake of merely doing what others are doing, instead of deciding our own career path. I would advise them to take charge of their future and decide what they are going to do, on their own.
Ask yourself, who do you want to be? Figure out what makes you happy. Make a choice by deciding who you’re going to be and what it takes to be that person.
Transitioning from university-to-work can be very challenging. Students need to be flexible and adapt to necessary changes. Prepare yourself with adequate knowledge and apply it to the job you are engaged in. It is in the working environment that you will be tested – both your knowledge and your limit. And it’s up to you to give your best.
My final advice is to work hard and don’t quit when things are not going your way. Put all the efforts and try to keep going.