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Connections that count

Published on Friday, 11 Jan 2013
Peter Lee
Photo: Felix Wong

Eighteen major companies – including the Big Four and other accounting firms, banking and financial institutions and recruitment agencies – will be presenting their credentials and discussing industry issues with accounting students and professionals at the CPA Australia Career Expo 2013.

The annual event, now in its ninth year in Hong Kong, is expected to draw some 1,000 participants on January 12 at the Conrad Hotel in Admiralty.

“The Career Expo is a flagship employment event for [CPA Australia] members, graduates and students. The feedback from participants and exhibitors in the previous expos have been very positive,” says Peter Lee FCPA (Aust.), CPA Australia’s divisional president – Greater China and managing director of Veco Invest (Asia).

Lee says the expo is the ideal platform for participants to be noticed, get connected and move ahead in their career.

One of this year’s highlights is the Asian launch of The Naked CEO, an online reality TV show featuring CPA Australia CEO Alex Malley and students doing behind-the-scene interviews with leaders of successful companies (see related story).

The expo is open to all students, university graduates and young professionals from Hong Kong and beyond. “It’s an opportunity for employers to meet potential employees from different nationalities and backgrounds. That’s why exhibiting companies find it very attractive. This is much better than a campus tour,” Lee says.

He believes that, besides possessing technical knowledge, accountants these days must also have excellent interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills and an understanding of the global business environment.

“Accountants don’t simply sit in the back office doing the number crunching. A lot of times, they have to go out and meet people, deal with external parties and stakeholders. Interpersonal skills have become very important,” he adds.

For many fresh graduates attending the expo, accounting may just be the first step towards more diversified career paths. “They could eventually become management consultants, business consultants, public practitioners or CFOs in multinational corporations,” Lee says. “What’s important is for them to understand that the skill set they’ve learned throughout their accounting training is transferable and useful throughout their long career.”

Lee advises expo participants to be patient. “If they’re unable to get an interview or identify anything that they like, they shouldn’t give up. They should continue to explore. This expo is meant to widen their network. It’s a starting point for building their career path,” he says.

Lee adds that the expo offers “a rare opportunity for students and other participants to have an open dialogue with heads of human resources, senior executives, partners at CPA firms, and potential employers – under one roof.”

“The expo saves companies time and resources in meeting motivated students who are interested in the accounting and finance profession,” he says.

The exhibitors also find great value in using the expo to get a clearer picture of what potential employees are looking for.

“There’s always been an expectations gap between employers and employees. The expo provides a platform for employers to communicate with potential employees and get different feedbacks. It’s a win-win situation for both,” Lee says.

CPA Australia member Nelson Hon CPA (Aust.) advises his co-participants, especially first-timers, to make sure they bring their CVs. “A lot of employers would be collecting CVs on the spot,” he says. “Don’t be shy to go up to the employers’ booths.”

Hon, an assistant manager in the China corporate tax department of KPMG Hong Kong, was a jobseeker when he first attended the expo in 2009. He says he’s not exactly looking for a job this time, but the chance to meet and share knowledge with managers and representatives of major accounting firms, as well as fellow CPA Australia members, is too valuable to pass up.

“It’s a good place to chat with them... and ask about their roles and duties, about the company background, the different departments and functions, and their recruitment procedure,” he says. “It’s always good to know what kind of opportunities are out in the market.

“There are actually a lot of advisory firms that are good potential employers as well. It’s important to visit all the booths to meet these companies and know whatever positions they might offer,” Hon adds.

The CPA Australia Career Expo 2013 – also held in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore – is one of the major annual events organised by CPA Australia, which has more than 144,000 members in 127 countries, including over 14,000 in Greater China.

Another CPA Australia event, the CPA Congress, is held in more than 10 locations and attracts over 10,000 participants. Besides this, its continuing profession development (CPD) programme regularly updates members on technical, personal effectiveness, business and leadership skills. The group also organises social networking events such as wine tastings.

As part of its “Spotlight” events series, CPA Australia invites senior executives from different industries to talk about a range of topics and share their career and personal experiences.


BDO Limited, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton Hong Kong, KPMG, Manulife Financial, PwC, RSM Nelson Wheeler, Shinewing (HK) CPA

Baker Tilly Hong Kong, CWCC, FTI Consulting (Hong Kong), KCS Hong Kong, PKF, Standard Chartered Bank (HK), Tricor Services

Talent Management Partner
Michael Page International

Media/Recruitment Partner
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