An insider’s guide to employer accreditation 6

Christine Chan, ACCA student and head of payroll and process support at Equant’s Regional Finance Centre in Singapore, talks to Student Accountant about the benefits of working for an ACCA Approved Employer

Christine Chan’s career began in administrative and junior accounting positions, before moving to the UK to gain a Higher Diploma in Business and Finance. On returning to Hong Kong, she joined a software company as business system analyst. A strong interest in information systems and IT lead to a position within a large multinational, supporting a major information system, before she relocated to Singapore and joined Equant in 1997 as regional financial system analyst.

With almost 10-years’ work experience, mainly in information systems management, Christine explains why she decided to change her career path and follow a career in accounting: ‘When I joined Equant (then Global One) I supported the financial information system for the Asia Pacific region. When Global One became Equant in 2003, I was placed in charge of the migration project – consolidating accounts from three different accounting systems. I had to deal with finance users at different levels, in different entities, and in different countries. I needed to understand business needs, map out the migration process, and understand accounting requirements. It was then that I realised the value of a professional finance qualification, and that it would allow me to operate effectively with professional accountants and advance my career. I chose to study ACCA because of the flexibility to plan my studies and exam schedule, and my Higher Diploma gained me some exemptions.’

Christine’s relationship with ACCA then developed further: ‘The migration exercise took nine months. When everything was finally in place, I took on the responsibility of coordinating staff training and KPI monitoring. I worked closely with ACCA to review our training policies, and gained Equant ACCA accreditation for the support it gives staff pursuing ACCA and CAT qualifications.’

As both scheme manager and ACCA student, Christine can make sure support is relevant and useful. Christine explains: ‘We provide exam leave, and exam and tuition fees are paid by Equant if the Education Assistance Plan is applied for. A cash subsidy goes towards ACCA subscriptions. And as there is always a group of colleagues taking ACCA exams, there are many opportunities for informal support, such as study discussions.’

Equant places great emphasis on workplace development: ‘We offer everyone the chance to lead a project. This is a great opportunity, as a team member – with management support – can drive a project, liaise with business leaders to develop solutions, and drive improvements. This can be a route to leadership and career advancement.’

Christine’s career has also developed since she joined Equant: ‘At the end of 2004 I was offered the position of head of payroll. By then I was preparing for my Part 3 exams and this gave me the confidence to accept the change. I had also completed Paper 3.2, Advanced Taxation, which helped me understand tax regimes and filing requirements specific to Asia Pacific countries.

‘I now lead a team of four and work to improve the payroll operation in terms of accounting, tools and processes, and the management of local payroll outsourcing. I’m still in charge of training, and make sure all team members are regularly updated on statutory requirements, technical skills, and personal skills. Management also encourages everyone to gain experience in other functions whenever possible – moving from accounts payable to general ledger for example, or cash management to payable. Team members have opportunities to be trained in different aspects of finance. This definitely strengthens confidence and develops a deeper understanding of workflow and process, leading to greater responsibilities.’

"I chose to study ACCA because of the flexibility to plan my studies and exam schedule, and my Higher Diploma gained me some exemptions"

Christine Chan