Ng Kian Hui

Audit & Assurance Partner, Head of Audit

Experience may play a big part in Kian Hui's career, but he believes networking should take centre stage.

My network serves as a good sounding board, providing valuable perspectives so that I can better understand and assess potential business opportunities.

Getting started

I developed an interest in the profession after I took up a course in National Service. As a science student, I found it interesting to be able to relate accounting topics to the business and commercial aspects. Subsequently, I studied for a Bachelor of Accountancy in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and came to understand that accounting is definitely more than just “number crunching.”

Before I joined BDO Singapore in 2012, I was with PwC Beijing. Working in China was a great experience and I believe my professional development was accelerated there, but after taking my three children to consideration, I decided to return to Singapore and accept the audit partner role BDO offered. It took some time to readapt and reconnect with old friends and contacts, but with the help of colleagues and friends, my transition was smoother than expected.

Initial challenges

The initial challenges I faced when I first started was keeping pace with multiple deadlines and meeting client expectations. With the help of my seniors and mentors, I learnt to better prioritise my tasks on hand and keep up constant communication with various stakeholders.

I have also come to the realisation that it is always important to establish and maintain good working relationships with all stakeholders as well as hone the ability to communicate issues upfront to manage expectations more effectively.

My turning point

Joining BDO as an audit partner when I returned to Singapore was a turning point in my career. Now, I travel to various countries, such as the ASEAN nations, Switzerland and Belgium, to name a few, to meet with the management and BDO counterparts who assist in the audit. This opportunity to work with clients and colleagues from different countries has further broadened my horizons and honed my skills in interaction and building relationships across countries and cultures.

I also took on a role that provides technical accounting and auditing advice to fellow audit partners, so I have to keep myself updated on the new accounting standards coming into effect and leverage on the experience I gained over the years.

This exposure and experience with BDO set me up well to take on my current role as Head of Audit to spearhead the sustainable growth of our audit practice through attracting more talents, expanding client portfolios and providing excellent client services through quality deliverables.

My biggest achievement

As a technical partner, I’m required to conduct external training and seminars – definitely a daunting experience when I first had to speak on stage in front of so many people! Over time, I’ve gained confidence, and over the years, I’ve presented at numerous external seminars organised by various professional bodies including the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority and CPA Australia. Now, I feel a great sense of satisfaction and achievement when I share my knowledge and raise BDO’s profile.

Important skills

I learnt how to keep an open mind and remember that business can be conducted in various ways, and also learnt the importance of language and how to use more jargon in a business context.

Networking is also an important skill. My network serves as a good sounding board, providing valuable perspectives so that I can better understand and assess potential business opportunities.

Advice for graduates

As someone who is still in the early stage of your career, it is important to develop yourself technically and professionally. However, it is equally important to develop the ability to connect with people and build relationships with colleagues, peers and business associates. Take the time to understand your friends and contacts better.

It may be challenging for new graduates in the workforce as you learn how to handle new roles on top of networking. However, if you set one key priority and make a conscious effort to set aside time for it, it should be manageable.

Building relationships need not exclusive to a session or an organised event; regular dealings with colleagues and friends may set the tone for the relationship, so if you are always positive and sincere towards them, it will definitely leave a good impression and it will be easier for you to connect at more a personal level.

There is a saying, “It is not what you know that matters, but who you know”. As you progress through your career, the contacts and connections you build will be a supportive element to keep you going and open more doors.