Launched in March 2019, the ISCA Student Membership is open to all local accountancy undergraduates. Through the programme, ISCA Youth Associates enjoy various student membership benefits including an array of talks, workshops as well as exclusive company visits that help prepare them for the dynamic work environment even before graduation. With company visits, ISCA Youth Associates gain deeper insights into the companies, understand the nature of the business and industry and, most importantly, recognise the pivotal role of a Finance Team and accountancy professionals in these companies.
In September and October last year, some ISCA Youth Associates had the opportunity to visit two home-grown brands – Zouk Group and BreadTalk Group. During the tours, they were not only exposed to the operations and service aspects of the Entertainment and Food and Beverage (F&B) industries, they also had the chance to interact with key representatives from both groups.
ZOUK: A MULTI-CONCEPT LIFESTYLE BRAND
On 27 September 2019, ISCA Youth Associates went on a behind-the-scenes tour of Zouk Group’s suite of renowned clubs – Capital, Phuture, Queens, Redtails, and Zouk – to learn about each club’s unique lifestyle concept. With 28 years of experience in the Entertainment industry, the Group has evolved into a multi-concept lifestyle brand. The latest addition to its fold is Five Guys, a popular American burger brand that it brought into Singapore.
One of the highlights of the tour included the opportunity to work the DJ mixers and turntables, guided by Zouk’s resident DJ LeNERD. The veteran DJ not only demonstrated how to “drop the beat” – a classic move where DJs make a sudden change to the song’s rhythm after building up anticipation – he shared the importance of a well-trained DJ who can deliver the best club experience to customers.
Like many night spots, Zouk also serves crowd-favourite cocktails. A few student-members were invited to go behind the bar to craft two iconic Zouk cocktails – Long Island Iced Tea and Velvet Ropes. It was an immersive experience for the Youth Associates, who gained insights into the operations of the popular club.
After a tour of the premises, Zouk Group’s Finance Director and ISCA member, Alex Phua, shared about the key finance functions in the organisation and his career journey thus far. Like most accountancy students, he started his career as an Audit Associate, in KPMG Singapore. With a keen interest to explore beyond professional services, Mr Phua joined Zouk Group as Finance Director in 2018. “An accountancy degree opens doors to multiple career pathways, and accountancy professionals play instrumental roles in commercial companies,” emphasised Mr Phua. He further shared that finance professionals also take on the role of an advisor to the CEO and the Board in leading businesses in the right strategic direction.
Mr Phua believes that such company visits, provided through the ISCA Youth Associate Student Membership, are highly beneficial to accountancy students; they can gain a clearer perspective of their career goals after understanding a company’s various aspects by interacting with its key representatives. On career advice, Mr Phua encouraged the students to continue to have a curious mind, and expose themselves to every facet of a company’s functions and operations. “It will go a long way once you are able to connect the dots and leverage your accounting expertise to add value to the business,” he explained.
BREADTALK: BAKERIES, CAFES AND RESTAURANTS
On 23 October 2019, some ISCA Youth Associates were hosted by the BreadTalk Group, where they picked up valuable insights into the F&B industry.
Since the first BreadTalk outlet opened in 2000, floss buns have become synonymous with the BreadTalk brand. The Group has since expanded its portfolio to include restaurants, cafes, and food atriums, and has also ventured overseas in partnership with critically acclaimed F&B brands.
The Youth Associates were first given a tour of the brands’ outlets housed at BreadTalk International Headquarters, where they were introduced to the concepts and ideation behind the various brands. At each outlet, representatives from the Group explained why the key success of BreadTalk – the open kitchen concept – works. With an open kitchen concept in their bakeries, customers can witness the entire bread-making process; this translates to a higher level of confidence and trust in the brand, which is vital to the Group. At Din Tai Fung, ISCA Youth Associates looked through the glass at the restaurant’s front kitchen, and observed the chefs preparing the brand’s signature steamed pork dumplings (小笼包) from scratch.
The company visit included an intimate sharing session with Group CFO and Group CIO Chan Ying Jian, during which he shared his career journey and spoke about the complexities of today’s business arena.
Mr Chan commenced by having the ISCA Youth Associates introduce themselves to everyone in the room. Unbeknown to them, he was using the opportunity to assess each student’s elevator pitch to determine who stood a higher chance of landing a position in the organisation, if he had one to offer. He shared with the students the importance of recognising their own strengths, and knowing how to convey these to others. Relating his own career journey, it was clear that Mr Chan knew where his strengths and interests lie. He had joined BreadTalk in 2014 after close to seven years at J.P. Morgan, as he felt that the opportunity was too exciting to pass up. He urged the students to carefully consider every opportunity that will come their way in the future, and highlighted that monetary compensation should not be the only consideration in deciding on their career options.
“By exposing yourself and seizing various opportunities, you would be able to discover which career pathway is most suitable for you. Do not limit yourself, do not be afraid to push your own boundaries, and always be open to explore different possibilities,” he added.