The inaugural ISCA Young Professionals Symposium, an initiative by the ISCA Young Professionals Advisory Committee (YPAC), was held on August 6 at the contemporary and modish Andaz Singapore Hotel, as befitting the youth-centric event. Organised for young professionals by young professionals, the Symposium, with the theme “Today’s Millennials, Tomorrow’s Leaders”, aimed to pave the way for millennials in this transformative age and empower them with the knowledge and skills to boost their careers and be future-ready.

In her welcome address, YPAC Chairperson Belinda Teo, Assurance Manager of EY, iterated the dynamism of the business landscape and urged her fellow accounting professionals to be agile and versatile to adapt to the constant changes. With much enthusiasm, she kick-started the Symposium with a group photo.

YPAC Chairperson Belinda Teo taking a “wefie” with participants; also present were ISCA Advisor Teo Ser Luck (front row, 2nd from right) and ISCA Council office bearers (front row, from right) CEO Lee Fook Chiew, Treasurer Balasubramaniam Janamanchi, and Secretary Kelvin Tan with the capacity turnout

ISCA Advisor Teo Ser Luck, the keynote speaker, inspired our young leaders with an insightful journey encompassing his childhood dream, first encounter with entrepreneurship during his university days, and the trials and tribulations of setting up his own business. Being an accountant has trained him to be sensitive to numbers, giving him an edge in his entrepreneurial journey. Mr Teo shared his profound satisfaction at having created something from scratch, and seeing people appreciate and benefit from the products and ideas that he was a part of. Giving back to the society, he has gone on to advise various start-ups. He hopes the business owners will become successful and experience the deep fulfilment in their business endeavours as he did.

ISCA Advisor Teo Ser Luck sharing anecdotes during his keynote address

ISCA Council member Lelaina Lim, Group Chief Financial Officer of Eu Yan Sang International, moderated a lively panel discussion titled “Embracing Change: Evolving Jobs and Skills”. Technology innovation has changed the nature of jobs globally and Seah Gek Choo, Talent Partner of Deloitte Singapore, illustrated the change with an evolving audit procedure using technology. She shared that Deloitte has developed a mobile application for stock count audits, which for decades were done using pen and paper. Such a technological tool not only aids efficient counts, it eases the reconciliation process. Fen Teo, Senior Division Director of Robert Half, observed that more employers are now seeking finance candidates with data analytics and information technology background. Ong Wee Gee, Vice President Finance of Equinix Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, spoke about the “digital workforce” at his office, where robotics, analytics and automation co-exist with human talent.

Discussing how technology innovation has disrupted the workplace were (from left) moderator Lelaina Lim and panellists Seah Gek Choo, Ong Wee Gee and Fen Teo

Adjunct Associate Professor of National University of Singapore James Leong, Founder of Visions.One Consulting Pte Ltd, brought much participation and laughter with his engaging presentation on the latest buzz – design thinking. Illustrating how the imagination has the capacity to dream up ways to illustrate concepts, Assoc Prof Leong highlighted that the two major qualities that humans have over robots are empathy and creativity, which are key attributes integral to the design-thinking process.

Lively interactions between Assoc Prof James Leong and participants

Participants enjoying the sumptuous lunch spread at the hotel

Being adaptable to change is a recurring message at the Symposium. An aspiring finance business partner, for example, should embrace change, have a clear sense of purpose, understand people and stakeholders, walk the talk and build one’s personal brand, advocated Lee Wei Hock, Partner of EY. Sharing survey findings, he listed the highly-sought-after soft skills of a future-ready business advisor as strategic thinking, business acumen and leadership.

TEDx speaker So-Young Kang, CEO of Gnowbe, said that strategising or proposing ideas from insights is what truly makes the employee valuable. She urged the audience to ruminate on the bigger purpose of producing numbers and reports, to give insights and ultimately business recommendations and proposals that will help to propel the business. Providing forward-thinking and quality recommendations would require the 4 Cs – Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration and Communication.

Haridas Kanagasabai, Partner of Deloitte Singapore, used practical examples to illustrate concepts in the new financial reporting standards effective in 2018 and 2019. Introducing a light-hearted moment, he said that actor Ben Affleck was inspired by FRS 115: Revenue from Contracts with Customers, in the movie “The Accountant”.

Moderating the final panel of the day on integrating sustainable environmental, social and governance in the workplace, ISCA Vice President Yvonne Chan, CFO of Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, encouraged the participants to champion successful workplace sustainability by aligning their own purpose and values in life. Fang Eu-Lin, Sustainability and Climate Change Leader of PwC Singapore, recalled the day she was tasked to lead the sustainability practice. Without any knowledge nor experience, Ms Fang revealed that passion, determination and time investment were key to keep her going when the going gets tough. S. Venkat, President and Global Head – Finance (Corporate) of Olam International Pte Ltd, elaborated on how sustainable development goals can be achieved in an organisation with the right spirit rather than the right form, where every employee must take small steps in their own ways to make the world a better place.

Encouraging young leaders to make the world a better place for the future were (from left) moderator Yvonne Chan and panellists Fang Eu-Lin and S. Venkat

Wrapping up the Symposium, Muhammad Ashiq Chu, Assurance Manager of PwC Singapore and ISCA’s representative at the One Young World (OYW) Summit 2017, provided a heartfelt recollection of his experience. He had interacted with many inspiring youths from around the world who are committed to creating hope in their own ways. Ashiq encouraged his fellow accountants to participate in compelling and life-changing events that align with them personally, which for him was the OYW Summit.

The Symposium concluded on a jubilant note where the winner and finalists of the ISCA One Young World Competition 2018 were recognised with a trophy and certificate each.

In the words of renowned American author Leroy Eims, “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others do.” The Symposium certainly motivated our leaders of tomorrow to expand their horizons, be at the forefront of change, and dream big!

YPAC Committee members with keynote speaker Mr Teo; ISCA Director of Audit Quality & Standards Development, Continuing Professional Education and Industry Support Fann Kor (2nd from left) and YPAC Chairperson Ms Teo