Securing a decent job requires more than an impressive resume, a strong cover letter and pleasant interview manners. Nowadays, with increasing global business expansion, candidates often fly to interviews to meet potential overseas colleagues in person and make the perfect match.
Ricci Chan, assistant manager, tax, KPMG, previously worked for an Australian banking institution and a government department. While in Australia however, he decided to spread his professional wings and explore the possibility of future career development in Hong Kong.
"I wanted to gain Asia exposure in a financially vibrant city filled with dynamic economic activities. Hong Kong has proved to be a great place for exploration. It has a rapidly-changing environment and a wide variety of positions for tax professionals," Mr Chan explains.
During his two years in Hong Kong, Mr Chan has encountered the multifaceted nature of the tax profession at KPMG. Throughout his journey of discovery, he has found KPMG to be an organisation which encourages incredible creativity in all its professionals.
"Outsiders usually consider the work ethic at big accounting firms monotonous and strict. This is untrue, although the job does require precise technical skills. Solutions need to be formulated on a daily basis and this demands a skill set unavailable in books. Lateral thinking is the most fascinating part of my career," Mr Chan says.
New situations arise constantly at KPMG calling for alternative approaches to achieving results. Mr Chan's responsibilities include tax compliance and advisory duties, in addition to ensuring transactional complexities run smoothly. He is also responsible for the design of effective methods and systems to handle cases independently, using a blend of previous experience and innovative thinking.
Another benefit of his position is the constant interaction with different people. These communicative opportunities arise from meeting with teams from internal departments, such as the financial advisory service and audit, as well as personnel from cross-disciplinary organisations such as law firms. Naturally, worldwide clients also constitute a large part of Mr Chan's networking picture.
"In spite of the long office hours, I am thoroughly enjoying my career at KPMG. For me, being busy is a positive sign. It means I profit from the rapid pace of personal development as it boosts the overall thinking process and acquisition of soft skills," Mr Chan reveals.
CSR in action
To strike a balance between work and social life, Mr Chan complements his packed schedule with volunteer activities organised by KPMG. Soon after joining the firm, he signed up for a charity event organised by the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) for impoverished children living in the West Kowloon district. With other volunteers, he chaperoned programme participants to Shek O Beach and spent the day playing fun games with the children.
"Since that initial connection with SoCO, I have explored more about Hong Kong volunteer activities, especially those involving young people. As a result, I now act as a mentor, providing care and guidance for two brothers aged 10 and 12 from the organisation," Mr Chan says.
As a committee member responsible for organising an array of charitable programmes ranging from annual fundraising events to ongoing projects, Mr Chan has truly embraced KPMG's caring culture.
"Our firm is increasingly emphasising CSR (corporate social responsibility). KPMG has allocated substantial resources to such initiatives with a focus on environment, education and empowerment. For example, we now promote double-sided copying and printing throughout the workplace to reduce the use of paper. During Chinese New Year, we visited a group of elderly people who live alone. Regular activities are organised with the SoCo children and their families. Best of all, we have role models who act from the top down. Active participation of partners and chairmen in CSR activities, such as the recent Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, has had a great influence on other staff."
Mr Chan believes that the successful continuation of KPMG's CSR momentum depends on encouraging others to participate, and communicating how much joy staff can get from being part of something important outside of the office.
"The message of kindness spreads via word of mouth. Photos and stories of our CSR activities published in our newsletter and internal magazine speak for themselves," Mr Chan says. "In taking on CSR responsibilities, I get the chance to see the different facets of life. Instead of material benefits, I gain enrichment and fulfilment from self-reflection. In essence, this reminds me to treasure what I already have."