10 April 1989 was a BIG day for me. I joined C&L as an accounts assistant and on the same day I attended my first day of studying accountancy professional course on part time basis at Systematic Business Training Centre in Jalan Sultan. It was the beginning of an exciting journey for me.
My family was not financially able to put me through a private university here or overseas. I started working right after my STPM. My parents believed that we should be independent at the age of 20.
I was so happy to learn that while studying ACCA on a part time basis and work with C&L, once I finish my study, with the relevant working experience, I could apply and admitted to become a qualified accountant. This will be sooner than those who study full time and need to work after their graduation to gain the relevant working experience before they could be admitted as a qualified accountant.
Initially, I signed up for CIMA course. In my discussions with my seniors at C&L, I discovered most of them studied ACCA part time.
I had a long chat with a senior staff, Alex Chan. Alex explained to me the difference between ACCA and CIMA. The general impression was that ACCA was geared towards service industries whereas CIMA was oriented towards manufacturing with its emphasis on cost accounting. I changed my mind and decided to switch to ACCA. I did not like to work in a factory. I always liked the idea of working in a nice office environment.
When I signed up for 5 subjects of Level 1 ACCA, I had to attend 3 days of evening classes every week from 6pm to 9pm.
Official working hours at C&L was from 8.30am till 5.30pm. It’s always a marathon for me as I had to wait for the lift, walk out from IGB building to Jalan Ipoh bus station, catch a bus and then walked to Systematic Business Training Centre in Jalan Sultan, waited for the centre’s lift or walked up the stair case. It was extremely challenging for me to do all these in 30 minutes in order for me to be on time in the classroom by 6pm and not to sit at the last row of the class. Often I would sit on the very first row of the class because nobody liked to sit in front.
Chris Wong was a very supportive boss. He asked me to leave work half an hour earlier (5pm) so that I did not have to rush and could catch a small bite before class started. I would replace the half hour by cutting down on my lunch break. After classes, I had to catch another bus, which was very infrequent after 9pm and I usually reached home at 10pm. Dinner was normally after 10pm.
During the other 2 weekdays where I did not have to attend evening classes, I worked extra hours to catch up on my work and learned as much as I could. On those days where I had deadlines to meet, I would miss my evening classes. I did not want to disappoint Chris who entrusted me with audit work.