Mr Lee Wei Hock, senior manager (assurance) at Ernst & Young LLP, interned with the company during his second year of accountancy studies at the Nanyang Technological University and accepted a job offer at the end of his internship.
He joined the company in 2002 and has not looked back since. He is grateful for the personal coaching and strong support he has received from the partners he has worked with.
It is from their selfless sharing that he picked up work essentials ranging from soft skills to technical knowledge.
“The coaches and mentors I’ve worked with have been instrumental in encouraging my career growth and development. I am inspired and motivated about where and what I want to achieve professionally by their open sharing of their journeys and struggles,” he says.
“They helped shape the way I think, respond and behave so that I can handle various circumstances better,” he adds. He has also learnt to pass on the invaluable lessons to his juniors.
Some years ago, when faced with uncertainties about his career path, his mentor intervened and helped him see things from a different perspective. Then, a secondment opportunity in the United States arose and he approached his mentor about it — and got the offer.
“I think he only paused for five seconds before saying ‘you should go’, and became my sponsoring partner for the stint,” says Mr Lee.
It turned out to be quite an adventure for him and his family.
“I had to prepare myself psychologically as I was bringing along my family, including my two young children. I had to adjust fast to the winter weather and familiarise myself with new people and places,” he says.
“Fortunately, I had friendly colleagues who made it easier for me. The assignment was a big step towards fulfilling my professional and career aspirations.”
Mr Lee works in one of the three core assurance groups and manages audit engagements.
“Auditing is about providing independent verification of our client’s compliance with accounting principles,” he explains.
He describes his work environment as being extremely fast-paced and he works closely with his team members to complete a project or client assignment.
Despite the long hours of work, especially during the peak season, Mr Lee gets a great feeling every time his team completes a project. The friendly and open culture of his workplace also helps.
“Every time when my team wraps up an engagement, the sense of achievement is so real, it can be quite refreshing at times,” he says.
“Many of us would also describe the culture here to be ‘homely’. That’s because we spend so much time working with our teams that subconsciously they have become like our ‘second family’ already.”
Ernst & Young is known as one of the Big 4s in the world that provides professional services — assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services — to clients worldwide.
It employs 152,000 people in over 140 countries globally. The Singapore office has over 2,000 people and 100 partners.
“While it seems pretty diverse, we are the most globally integrated organisation in our profession, operating our business via four highly integrated areas — Asia-Pacific; Americas; Europe, Middle East, India and Africa; and Japan,” says Mr Lee.
The way the company is structured offers him significant career mobility, opportunities to serve global brands and work on dynamic and diverse engagements, according to Mr Lee.
He is usually busy meeting clients and colleagues throughout the day. As the nature of his work is predominantly client-facing, he spends a significant amount of time at his clients’ premises.
Although he works in the Singapore office, he travels often because his Singapore clients have business operations overseas or his audit clients are based abroad.
He maximises his time spent on the road by taking conference calls with clients and colleagues from overseas offices and tries to be home for his family before they sleep, and logs on to work after that.
To those considering following his path, he offers this advice: “Stay humble, recognise that there are many new things that you can learn and ways for you to develop — as long as you are willing to keep an open mind and have the right attitude.”