Determined to carve a career niche as an accountant, Mr Alywin Teh applied for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) Singapore’s Australian Graduate Overseas Training Scheme (AGOTS) after graduating from Nanyang Technological University in 1994. At that time, he already harboured dreams of becoming a partner one day.
The young Mr Teh was selected for the AGOTS programme and was seconded to PwC Sydney for nearly three years, during which he gained a global perspective of the firm’s international operations. While travelling to various Australian states for work, he pursued his Australian Chartered Accountant qualification.
After his stint in Australia, he returned to Singapore and started work on bank audits and internal audit assignments. As his passion developed in these areas, he decided to focus on the banking industry and internal audit as areas of specialisation.
After seven years, in 2001, he decided to leave PwC to garner more exposure in internal audit in the banking sector.
He explains: “Back in those days, PwC’s set-up did not support the development in industry sectors, so I decided to join an American MNC financial services group to learn more about the tricks of the trade in a specialised area.”
The three years spent in a bank as a financial services internal auditor provided Mr Teh with the client service perspective. The exposure proved useful when PwC set up a division specialising in financial services in 2002, which led Mr Teh to re-join the firm two years later in 2004.
“It was serendipitous in the sense that a few years after I left, PwC set up a division specialising in financial services — this led to me re-join PwC. Sometimes in life, you need both conscious and serendipitous events to define one’s chosen career path and I am very fortunate to have had both.”
Other factors attracted him to return to PwC: a clear sense of career direction from the mentoring he had received from senior partners of the firm, a strong leadership team and the company’s culture — which values high performance and people development.
Says Mr Teh: “The partners coached me in a manner that I genuinely benefited from. I now coach my managers and staff with similar impartiality as I want them to succeed in their careers — within PwC or with other organisations.”
He stayed on for five years as a partner in Financial Services Industry Practice, a multi-disciplinary team of assurance and advisory professionals dedicated to serve the banking and capital markets, investment management and insurance industry sectors.
Today, Mr Teh, 41, leads an insurance sector team of over 150 insurance professionals that provides its clients — insurers and intermediaries — with assurance, tax, advisory and actuarial services.
His typical day involves interacting with clients and meeting fellow partners, managers and staff on various business plans, “go-to-market” initiatives and client engagement matters; interviewing prospective candidates; coaching managers and staff and delivering client work on-site for selected large and complex assignments. He also travels for client meetings, conferences and events.
During his early years as a partner, he had opportunities to be seconded to several insurance companies, which further shaped him in his role as a partner.
“PwC today is quite different from what it was 18 years ago when I started out. It is a much bigger practice today with a wide range of assurance, tax and advisory services as well as industry sectors for individuals to choose from to develop their careers,” he says.
“There are also client secondment opportunities that would benefit one’s development in gaining commercial exposures without having to leave the firm and also opportunities to work overseas within the PwC network under our global mobility programme.
"All these are learning opportunities for a well-rounded development for budding professionals.”