Becoming a member in South Korea

Hayeon Summer Gim is a tax manager at Ernst & Young Han Young, and in her latest interview gives us a look into her life and her ACCA journey.

Tell us a little bit about you…

I grew up in South Korea, and currently live in Seoul. I’ve worked in different countries over the years, but I love my home. Koreans are open-minded people, which makes co-working with people from different backgrounds and cultures easy, and my job even more enjoyable.

I currently work at Ernst & Young Han Young as a tax manager, but outside of work I love to listen to music, which helps me relax after a stressful day at work, and at the weekends I try to indulge in one of my other passions, Italian cuisine, by cooking it all myself for family and friends.

What inspired you to choose a career in finance?

I graduated from university and started work at a large conglomerate. My role at the time was very varied, but from my work experience I realised that I didn’t want to become a generalist, but focus on a specific area like audit and financial services.

Why did you choose ACCA and how did you get started?

I started studying some essential level accountancy courses in Korea and I realised I quite enjoyed it.

I had a friend who studied ACCA while living in London, and she suggested I get started so we could study together. I went home to research the qualification and considered what value it could bring me if I studied accountancy in the UK. I actually discovered that ACCA is an internationally recognised qualification, which meant it wouldn’t matter where in the world I was – the qualification would give me access to multiple careers in multiple countries.

The syllabus covered broad finance and accounting principles, but what I also liked was that it provided practical knowledge and application of skills, which I was able to align directly with tasks I undertook in the workplace. This really helped me put my learning into action immediately.

I also discovered that I could achieve an internationally recognised academic qualification alongside my ACCA qualification. At that point with ACCA, you could gain a BSc with Oxford Brookes University and an MSc with the University of London in parallel with the ACCA qualification. This was the final benefit that convinced me that ACCA was the route I wanted to pursue.

Did you face any challenges becoming ACCA qualified?

Studying ACCA demands a lot of focus and dedication. It was hard to balance work and study, as well as maintain a personal life. But I had unwavering support from my family, friends and work colleagues.

Was all the work you put in worth it? Has membership improved your career?

Yes, absolutely. Because my qualification is globally recognised, I was able to take several roles overseas. I currently work for EY, a global accountancy and consulting firm which is a global financial services industry leader in Korea. But I’ve also worked in Dubai and London for Deloitte and Samsung – both opportunities I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t chosen to become a professional accountant.

To become an ACCA member, as well as completing all your exams, you have to undertake a three-year practical experience requirement (PER).  I was lucky enough to not only complete my three years of PER, but also gain international experiences.

What do you like about your current job and where do you see yourself in five years?

In my current role as tax manager at EY I work in the APAC Managed Services Growth Centre and deal with global compliance and reporting, and tax and finance operations. In five years I’d love to still be working for EY, but getting experience from the London office.

If you were to recommend ACCA to someone considering a career in finance – what would you tell them?

Having an ACCA qualification increases your career potential. It opens so many doors as a financial and accounting professional and provides you with the flexibility to design your own career path.

Hayeon Gim

If you had to give three pieces of advice to a new ACCA student – what would they be?

  1. Avoid comparing yourself to others, and develop your own routine and rhythm to achieve your final goals.
  2. This is a very hard one to get right, but try to strike a balance between work and your personal life. It will help you enjoy your journey and successes more.
  3. Finally, have faith that you will complete your ACCA journey.

Good luck to all future ACCA students!


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