Willy Leow graduated from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) with a Master of Business Administration (Management of IT)
How did you get into your current line of work?
I have always found auditing to be an engaging and challenging occupation, and that first attracted me to the industry before keeping me there for over 20 years.
Each day is different from the previous, and we are engaged in consulting on various topics with clients in a wide range of industries and specialisations. My previous audit experience and ongoing professional upgrading process provided me with a good platform to progress into my current role in BDO to lead the Risk Advisory practice at BDO Singapore.
The industry then and now
I first learnt to use a computerised spreadsheet when I was doing my business attachment during my second year at NTU. Microsoft Excel was not even invented yet, and the DOS-based Lotus 1-2-3 was the leading computerised spreadsheet at that time. Whenever we needed technical guidance, we had to look for grumpy seniors, or search the library or old textbooks for answers. And sometimes, we still could not find the answers after all the time spent.
Auditors are so much productive now as compared with the not-so-good old days. We now have the tools to get information online, ease of compiling and analysing data and easy connectivity to practically anyone in the rest of the world. Technology such as emails, the internet and telecommunication have increased the reach and capabilities of the auditing industry beyond what we could have imagined twenty years ago.
The productivity and scope of auditing continues to increase and without doubt, looks set to change further with various new auditing technologies being developed, such as artificial intelligence (AI), or analytical tools that might one day replace the more straightforward auditing tasks.
What made me choose to be a leader?
I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to lead Risk Advisory Services at BDO Singapore, as I have always wanted to leverage my experience and knowledge in auditing and technology fully. Leading a team of professionals gives me the opportunities to not only apply those skills in client engagements, but also in increasing the value of the practice while transferring knowledge to our team members.
What I enjoy most about my job
I have to take on different roles in my daily schedule, such as guiding junior colleagues, advising clients on professional matters and accounting for the performance of the department to the firm. This is also the part that I enjoy the most, working as part of a much bigger team, building team camaraderie and celebrating victories as a team. The job becomes so much more meaningful when you are given a chance to work with a high performing group of people and share the rewards with everyone when all the hard work and sweat finally bears fruit.
I focus quite a bit on creating the right team dynamics so that members are motivated to achieve their performance targets in the most effective and hopefully enjoyable way. Audit firms operate in a high-paced environment that requires everyone to always be at their peak performance.
Every request is urgent, and auditors continuously faced with a multitude of internal and external demands. I try to create the right motivation for the team members by having a clear understanding of each member so that everyone is assigned tasks on what they do best and ultimately, be able to achieve a much more impressive collective outcome for the team.
Advice for graduates
Who does not want to be the next Jack Ma or the next tech start-up genius? Whatever your career dreams are, there should be a concrete plan to get to where you want. Having a five or ten-year plan and strategising on how to reach there can help to guide new job-starters and increase the chances that you will eventually get to where you want.
The career journey takes more than 30 years to complete, but what you start with and how you manage the initial journey will usually decide which destination you end up in. So plan carefully based on your needs and try to seek advice from others who are further down the same track. Whatever track you choose, work hard, add on as much credit as you can, persevere and you might arrive at your dream destination sooner than you think!