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Director gets down to business

Many high-fliers in the accounting sector believe that great accountants should not only be good with numbers, they should also be good business leaders.

Paul Lo, financial director of the New Chinese Association – an institution that provides support for local and international school students – is an example of how an accountant can work his way up to play an important role in the development of a business.

With an accounting education, Lo started his career at a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firm. After getting his professional qualifications, he moved to the commercial sector with the aim of widening his horizons.

“In accounting firms, especially well-established ones, everyone focuses on a particular aspect of the job. One can be highly specialised with what they do, but for me, I wanted to get to know the entire operation of the business,” he says.

While serving as programme director for the Yew Chung Education Foundation, Lo used his wider business knowledge in conjunction with his professional expertise to successfully export the foundation’s brand to the mainland market.

“Coming from an accounting background, I know how to deal with budgeting when doing business development, but that is not enough. I also need to have a market sense, to know how to introduce a programme that will be well-received by the market,” he says.

With a wealth of experience in education development, Lo is looking forward to serving in the education sector with the New Chinese Association. “One of the key sectors that the association will focus on is being a ‘company doctor’ for schools. Such a consultant service is relatively new to Hong Kong and an increasing number of international schools and direct subsidies schools are looking to work with us to optimise their operation,” he says.

For accountants who want to get more involved in business operations, Lo advises them to pick up knowledge in management – especially people management.

“From an accounting point of view, business management is all about numbers, but this is not the whole case. For example, dismissing a staff member helps to save money, but how will it affect the morale of other workers? A business leader needs to understand the reaction of people as opposed to only looking at figures,” he says.