This article was first published in the September 2019 edition of
Accounting and Business magazine.

Kailin Toh, APAC retail controller at Amadeus GDS Singapore, and Lay Lay Leow, financial accountant at Mott Macdonald Singapore, married in February. They had their pre-wedding photographs taken at the library where they spent most of their time studying together for their ACCA exams while they were dating.

Q: How did you meet?
KT: I first met Lay Lay at the ACCA scholarship presentation event at Hotel Fairmont in Raffles City. It was held concurrently with the 2008 ACCA annual conference. We happened to be the only two scholars from the batch so had the opportunity to speak to each other more.
LLL: We met each other at an ACCA event and hit it off well. We happened to bump into each other again at the public library when studying for the ACCA exams and that’s when we started to know each other better.

Q: What was it like studying together?
KT: We had a common goal, which was to complete the ACCA exams and work towards our professional membership. We were able to share what we had studied and help each other on the modules we were taking. Part of our dating time was actually the time we spent on exam revision.
LLL: Our greatest accomplishment has been to successfully pass our ACCA exams together through support and encouragement for each other. We hope to continue supporting and encouraging each other in our private and working life.
Q What is it like to both work as finance professionals?
KT: We recognise the demands required for finance professionals and we are more understanding towards each other in terms of the pressures. We share experiences with each other that could be useful to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We also learn from each other about how to improve work efficiency and effectiveness, as well as some approaches to people management.
LLL: It can be beneficial as it enhances our mutual understanding of working conditions and increases our support during stressful times. We are specialists in different areas; I am strong in auditing and financial reporting, and Kailin is good in management accounting and has good business acumen. We are glad we find a balance to our private life, and the boundaries between the home and the office are not blurred.

Idowu Ismaila Ayodeji, group finance and reporting manager at Flour Mills of Nigeria, and Adelaja Sikirat Adebola, strategy and finance manager at FrieslandCampina WAMCO, are based in Nigeria. They have been married for 11 years.
Q How did you meet?
ASA: Ayodeji and I met at university. We both studied accounting and he was two years ahead in the classes.
IIA: I happen to be a tutor at a tuition centre; Adebola attended and I was her tutor. We became friends and when she wanted to register for ACCA she told me about it. Even though I had heard about it before, I took it more seriously when she showed an interest.
Q What was it like studying together?
ASA: We studied for our exams together, and went to the exams together and we relived the experience together. ACCA has been very instrumental in the growth of my career, and, honestly, doing it with my husband means a lot. He knows what life can be like as an accountant and that makes him more understanding of my time.
IIA: Initially we were not doing the same papers, but when we were studying the same courses it was really great studying together and asking each other questions when we were preparing for exams, going to the exam hall together, and talking and laughing our way back home, discussing what we had written for each question.
Q What is it like to both work as finance professionals?
IIA: We currently both work in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry. I started my career in the banking industry and when I got the opportunity to move to FMCG after seven years, I was not too sure of what to expect. Adebola gave me the support I needed and encouraged me to make the move. I am more into core financial reporting, while Adebola is in strategy and analysis, but we reach out to each other when we need help in our different areas.
ASA: I honestly think it has its benefits and its downsides. We make it a point of call to reach out to each other first when we have challenges. I ask Ayodeji how deferred tax is treated in a situation, and what the standard says in respect to a case; he is a moving encyclopedia of IFRS Standards. We discuss office work easily together and we always borrow each other’s brains. The downside is it could be boring. Sometimes I think: can we talk about engineering, and health and nutrition, instead of speaking in numbers?

Mark Harris, senior vice president, finance, at Scottish Re, and Rachel Derry, senior vice president and senior compliance officer at Liberty Mutual Management, are based in Bermuda. They met in 2000 and have been married for six years.
Q How did you meet?
MH: We met at a small accountancy practice in Hereford, in the UK. Rachel was a senior at the firm and already more than halfway into her ACCA examinations. I was literally just starting out. The firm was providing ACCA study through one day a week at college, and providing study and examination preparation materials.
RD: Mark joined the accounting firm that I was working at. We worked together and we were both studying ACCA.
Q What was it like studying together?
MH: I think it really helped when discussing exams and scenarios to bounce ideas and thoughts off each other. It really helped to have someone who was going through the same path as I was to talk through it.
RD: We are able to help each other through our ACCA studies and subsequent work challenges. If I had known that my ACCA designation would lead me to live and work in Bermuda, I would have completed it in half the time. Our ACCA designations have given us the flexibility to work in industry or practice at home or abroad.
Q What is it like to both work as finance professionals?
MH: By having someone familiar with ACCA who has gone through the qualification along with the projected career paths has been a great help to me. Both of us came to the decision to move to Bermuda to pursue accounting careers in the insurance/reinsurance sector. I think by having someone to talk to who is familiar with the accountancy profession makes the thought process a lot clearer.
RD: It’s very helpful to be able to understand what the other is going through, whether that’s interpreting new standards, ad hoc projects or managing people. Our jobs are engaging but taxing too, so being able to chat through issues and ideas helps.

Nicky Burridge, journalist