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Thinking outside the balance sheet

Photo - Ritesh Kumar CPA (Aust.).jpg
Ritesh Kumar CPA (Aust.), head of financial planning and analysis at mobile classifieds app company Carousell, enrolled after he’d already gained Big Four and industry experience

Not too long ago, you were possibly called a “bean counter” if you were working in accounting or finance and your job was considered “boring”, “routine” and “desk bound”. A lot has changed.

These days, your career can go way beyond stereotypical auditor or finance manager roles. That’s because technological advances are automating many tasks, freeing up your time to become much more involved in the business and to increasingly act as its trusted advisor or strategic partner.

But if you are looking to move beyond the balance sheet and towards the boardroom, how do you develop the right skills, knowledge and mindset to succeed?

A popular route is the CPA Program, offered by CPA Australia, one of the world’s largest professional accounting bodies with more than 164,000 members in 150 different countries and regions.

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This program is not just for accountants. It can help you build an exciting career wherever you work. 

“Regardless of industry, the knowledge gained from the CPA Program is relevant in any day-to-day accounting or finance role,” says Giovani Anggasta Salim ASA, private equity fund accountant at Citco Singapore. 

Giovani Anggasta Salim ASA, private equity fund accountant at Citco Singapore 

“Rather than simply providing you with a technical focus, the CPA Program uses contemporary and internationally relevant material to equip you with an understanding of the dynamic issues facing organisations. It prepares you to go beyond the numbers and apply your knowledge to real business situations.”

Similarly, Songyao Goh CPA (Aust.), a director at consulting firm GYK, says: “Completing the CPA Program gave me huge confidence in my technical ability, but more importantly, it instilled a sense of awareness that being an accountant is more than just understanding accounting standards. 

Songyao Goh CPA (Aust.), a director at consulting firm GYK

“It is about having a right mix of leadership, ethics, business acumen, global acumen and technical capabilities, all of which embody the key traits of a trusted advisor to businesses in the market. This is the mindset I carry with me as a management consultant, helping me to successfully transform my clients’ businesses.”

The CPA Program can also be relevant at any stage of your career. 

Goh, for example, signed up for the program straight after graduating from university in 2013 while Salim started after she got her first job at an audit firm. 

On the other hand, Ritesh Kumar CPA (Aust.), head of financial planning and analysis at mobile classifieds app company Carousell, enrolled after he’d already gained Big Four and industry experience. 

“While most people take on such programs immediately after starting their career, I personally found it more valuable after getting some experience as I was able to relate more easily to the education and link it back to my work experience,” he says.

Salim says her parents were the first to inspire her to attain the CPA designation. 

“Being accounting professionals, they strongly recommended the CPA Program for me to hone my technical knowledge and keep myself updated on the latest business skills,” she says. 

“During my university days, I also had ample opportunity to network with working professionals who shared how the CPA designation helped them through their career journey. In addition, the CPA Australia team actively organises both informative and social networking events. With all these, I knew that the CPA Program was the right one for me,” she says. 

CPA Australia, she says, offered her a qualification recognised across the globe, a connected professional network, exclusive member benefits and “exceptional support” from its staff.

She says the flexibility to choose elective subjects, such as Financial Risk Management, has helped her understand her clients better while the distance learning style suits her full-time working schedule.

Although Salim has not completed the CPA Program yet, she says being an Associate member of CPA Australia has helped her to stand out among others especially when it comes to job searches. “Many firms nowadays are looking for a CPA-equivalent qualification on top of a university degree,” she says. 

Likewise, Kumar says: “I have experienced that having a CPA designation is an advantage during career changes as it represents a community of trained finance professionals that can add a lot of value to organisations.”

He signed up for the CPA Program to progress his professional development and be part of a recognised global community of finance professionals.  

“I felt it was the most relevant program for me where I could build my skills and work towards strategic and leadership roles,” he says.

“Being associated with CPA Australia helps me to be more strategic in the business and to back up decisions by taking into account financial and non-financial levers.”

To find out more about the program, visit