ASEAN CPA Secretariat

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Lee Jianwen, CA (Singapore), ASEAN CPA

Senior Manager, Management Accounting, Resorts World Sentosa.

 

THE TEAM PLAYER

For someone whose job places a huge emphasis on figures, Lee Jianwen, 35, believes in not just going by the numbers. Instead, his focus always lies in doing the right thing. He puts this into action at Resorts World Sentosa when he iterates his full commitment to his team. “I want to lead by example and show my team that they are not alone in situations,” says Mr Lee. “Even when it comes to mistakes, I will ensure that we face the music as a team.”

Sceptics may think they recognise a management mantra here, but Mr Lee really hits it out of the ballpark when it comes to teamwork. He goes so far as to cite the prospect of working with his colleagues every day as the thing that gets him going in the morning. “Alone, you can go fast, but with a team, you can go far,” says Mr Lee, paraphrasing an old African proverb. This “all-for-one and one-for-all” work ethic generally stems from extensive experiences in the field, and he acknowledges the debt he owes to both his seniors as well as to society.

KEEPING IT REAL

Having chalked up more than 10 years in the profession, Mr Lee confesses that he really only became interested in accountancy after he had earned his degree. “I realised that accountancy is not just about number crunching. In my current role, I analyse the performance of the business. Accountants understand the strengths and weaknesses of the business by understanding what the numbers mean. Thereafter, we help to make sense of these numbers and communicate with the stakeholders,” he explains. “This is how we can add value – not only in having the technical abilities but also possessing the integrity to deliver quality and accurate insights.”

A pragmatic man, Mr Lee had initially decided on a degree in accountancy as it represented a good career choice – because he knew that every industry needs accountants. Even today, he remains practical about accountancy and the challenges facing the profession. For example, he sees automation and machine learning in accountancy as net positives. “We no longer need to worry about mundane tasks and can now be more focused on strategic roles,” he shares. “More time can be spent interpreting and analysing the data. We have to keep evaluating ourselves and make sure we are moving with the times. Being resistant to technology will leave us lagging behind.” Before his move to Resorts World Sentosa, Mr Lee spent the first nine years of his career as an auditor at KPMG Singapore, and is thus no stranger to long hours and tight deadlines. Interestingly, he says his commando training during National Service helped to equip him with the determination to persevere, and to pull through.

Mr Lee returns to the importance of his mentors, specifically, the senior partners at KPMG Singapore, who had provided him with valuable career guidance. “They were very hands-on, and I was able to turn to them whenever I needed help.” In addition, his mentors were “very open”, making it easy for him to communicate with them. “This is exactly the kind of leadership I aspire (to emulate) today,” he says.

You might have formed a mental image of the consummate corporate man in Mr Lee but he is quick to point out that he is not a “nerd with a calculator”. He volunteers with Citizens On Patrol, a community initiative by the Singapore Police Force, where he and his fellow residents become the “eyes and ears” of the police in his neighbourhood. “I believe a lot in giving back to society. Even during my NTU (Nanyang Technological University) days, we offered tuition to underprivileged kids of the Singapore Boys’ Home,” says Mr Lee. He also volunteers at ISCA, having served previously on the Community, Social & Sports Advisory Panel, and currently, the Young Professionals Advisory Committee (YPAC).

It certainly makes sense that even in giving back to society, Mr Lee likes to make it a team effort. In fact, teamwork also plays a part in his life outside work. He is proud to have been on a race-winning dragon-boat team at the DBS Marina Regatta. For the record, it was a team of accountants.

AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

Mr Lee links his passion for team activities with his positive view of technology in the finance world. “Change is the only constant in life and we have to embrace it. We have to move out of our comfort zones. Anyone who can do that can stay relevant. That was why I moved out of a Big Four (firm).” Nevertheless, he notes that though his current scope of work is far different from what he had as Audit Manager, the requisite skill sets are very much similar.

There is a connection between Mr Lee’s motivation to constantly update his own knowledge – and he regularly encourages others to do the same – and the benefits of an ISCA membership. “ISCA is not just any membership that anyone can take up. There are prerequisites and requirements that members must fulfil, to join as well as maintain their membership. We need to constantly upskill and reskill ourselves, and the membership is a validation that we possess the relevant skills.”

Mr Lee has made the best of his membership over the years and is also an ASEAN CPA. “Being an ASEAN CPA elevates our status as accountants because we are partners for growth in this region. As businesses become more international, transactions also become more complex. There is a growing demand for qualified accountants because of this. We are more valuable and more mobile, not just in Singapore but in this region.”

Asked about what makes him anxious, or what keeps him awake at night, he mentions his two children – a three-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son – “Worrying about them literally keeps me up!” he exclaims with a laugh.