An accountant with many years experience, RACE graduate Amy Ling has opted to freelance her services to make time for a balance lifestyle.

I learned about the RACE diploma programme in a job fair and decided to join to equip myself with leadership skills and head knowledge. I also envisaged that the programme would touch on effective communication skills, which I needed to improve. 

Accounting has all along been my line of work these past 20 years. Backed by an accountancy degree, I am glad that my experience gained from working in public and private sectors has seen me through those years. From a non-experienced assistant auditor, I gradually worked my way up to become a finance manager, heading an accounts department in MNC and SME for a cumulative six years.


Despite the climb, I must admit that my career path wasn’t a smooth ride. There were times when I was recruited to fill in the gap without a proper handover and was tasked to clear up the backlog the previous head left behind while the position of head of department vacant for months. Of course, such lapses were not divulged during job interviews. 


“The course would touch on effective communication skills, which I needed to improve.”


Going freelance to seek a work-life balance

Thankfully, I experienced some pleasant moments too. Like my most recent job placement where I worked for a leading American software developer for video games. On a term contract, I was to support the company’s yearly and monthly accounts closing, as well as in ad-hoc projects for ERP implementation, and process improvement.


What I treasured most during that brief stint was the opportunity to interact with colleagues from the USA, Australia, China, Hong Kong and Russia, among others. Working alongside them, I learned first-hand about the corporate culture in their own countries.


After serving out the contract, I contemplated a change in working environment. I opted to freelance and market my accounting services through networking groups. This move would enable me to better manage my time as I seek a balance between working and social life. 


“I opted to freelance… as I seek a balance between working and social life.”


The importance of communication in business relationships

I have learned much from RACE about communication techniques and their applications. I now have the courage and confidence to deal with situational crises and no longer fear being misunderstood. It is also imperative that I create clear communication channels with corporate clients to facilitate efficient service.


Among classmates, we found common ground in sharing our experiences. Egged on by the trainer, we brainstormed as competing groups before presenting our respective make-believe business models.


From the eight Leadership & People Management modules, I can think of three key takeaways from the course: 


Develop professional competence: It began with assessing our own personal competencies (knowledge, skills, attitudes) to formulate my career goals, and applying the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) criteria to match with the industry needs.


Cultivating business relationships: Whatever the circumstances, I should be diplomatic in my dealings. To argue and prove a point is being foolhardy, just as in winning the battle but losing the deal eventually


Manage change: The realistic SARAH model (Shock, Anger, Rejection, Acceptance, Hope) showed me stages on how to cope with and manage change, and in turn help others undergo transitions in the workplace.


“To argue and prove a point is being foolhardy, just as in winning the battle but losing the deal eventually.”


How RACE helped me by identifying weak spots for a customised strategy

My career coach, Koh Puay Eng devised a strategy to help me recognise my weak spots in my longstanding career. Personally, I found the career coaching sessions with Puay Eng useful. They provided me an opportunity to discuss with my coach to set my personal goals, and shortlist the life skills jointly review and resolve current workplace problems highlight pertinent issues at job interviews. For instance, some companies choose to keep mum about the unsettling parts of the job during the interview, and share personal insights.

Being a freelance accountant, I can manage and devote my time for my career and social activities, one of which is overseas trekking. There will always be challenges at work, as much as in life. In facing the future, I shall have to be bold and use my talents and abilities to perform well expectations. ~CCE

~ Written by Harry Tan