Commitment and foresight are key ingredients in finding professional success.
Knowing the end goal, and having a roadmap that allows it to be achieved, can ensure career satisfaction.
"There is no glass ceiling for those who are really excellent at their work," says Tan Lay Keng FCPA (Aust.), Partner Ernst & Young (EY) and ASEAN People Advisory Services (PAS) Leader.
"Plan your career early and get the necessary qualifications that you require in order to be successful.
"For women who want to take a pause in their career, to have a family for example, getting a headstart in their career makes even more sense."
For Lay Keng the right qualification has included the CPA Program, a globally recognised post-graduate qualification that teaches skills to reach the next level in leadership, management, strategy and critical thinking in a global business environment.
"Opportunities are created by yourself," says the EY champion of diversity and inclusiveness, who describes herself as a people person.
"A good professional qualification is a non-negotiable pre-requisite if you plan to go far in your career.
"I embarked on my CPA qualification immediately upon starting work more than 30 years ago and have since held multiple roles at EY, from Integrated Mobility Leader in Malaysia, China Overseas Investment Network (COIN) Leader for Malaysia, CFO for EY Malaysia and, more recently, the ASEAN PAS Leader."
Lay Keng believes the CPA Program not only tests understanding and comprehension of the key accounting principles, but develops the ability to think strategically, which is a key differentiator between an average performer and one who is outstanding.
"Women should believe in themselves and keep working on their vision," she says.
"I am passionate about driving change and making a difference."
Opportunities for women to progress in their career are abundant when they are armed with confidence, the right qualifications and work to pursue their dreams, agrees Koh Ree Nie FCPA (Aust.), a member of CPA Australia Malaysia Divisional Council and an Audit Partner at KPMG Malaysia, where she has worked for nearly 20 years.
"My personal journey, like many women, has never been a smooth sailing one," she says.
"But a new direction of leadership in Malaysia is setting great expectations with key objectives in terms of recognition and performance across the board."
Ree Nie completed her CPA qualification early in her career, after graduating from the University of Technology, Sydney.
"I chose the CPA Program because CPA Australia is a privileged and renowned professional body which provides a vast range of career opportunities," she says.
"The qualification provided me with a competitive advantage in joining KPMG and undoubtedly gave me wider options in my career path, with choices of being in audit or exploring tax and advisory within the firm, not forgetting overseas opportunities."
Narita Naziree FCPA (Aust.), Head, Group Talent & Succession Development at Malayan Banking Berhad (Maybank) says the CPA Program helped support her career mobility and transition by reinforcing experience-based learning.
With Maybank for 10 years, she has also worked as Associate Director, Deals Advisory at PwC Malaysia and as Manager, Financial Risk Management, KPMG Malaysia.
"I was drawn to the coverage of the program which focused on current and global perspectives, while offering a good balance between technical and management modules," she says.
"Managing a global workforce as we do at Maybank requires strong financial acumen.
"This includes an appreciation of taxation, transfer pricing and expense recognition to manage human capital across different entities.
"The CPA Program gives a great platform to develop the financial acumen for different types of corporate roles."
Graduates can feel confident the CPA Program, that includes modules such as Global Strategy and Leadership and Strategic Management Accounting, is relevant to many types of roles as professional accounting evolves and transforms to meet the needs of stakeholders and digital over time, she says.
For those combining family commitments or career and study, options such as part-time and self-study, are also attractive.
"When you are working, it can be hard to work and study at the same time," acknowledges Lay Keng.
"With the CPA Program, I was able to prepare for my exams through self-study and the materials were comprehensive and easy to follow."
With an interactive online learning platform, CPA Australia's extensive resources range from business simulations, case studies and video resources to weekly webinars and module quizzes, with online exam options and more than 300 exam test centres globally.
When we start our careers and project those years ahead, we may envision it as a long runway with a lift off at the end, says Narita.
"But career trajectories have changed so much, and there are so many opportunities to develop careers horizontally and vertically."
CPA Australia offers unlimited opportunities for lifelong learning with interesting workshops, conferences and talks, as well as updates via CPA Australia's weekly e-newsletter and digital magazine.
Women's empowerment programs and support, including networking, are also included.
"As a member of the Malaysia Women in Business Committee of CPA Australia, the collaboration with cross-industry professionals on diversity, equity and inclusion has provided some great outside-in perspective," says Narita.
Says Lay Keng:"I have met many different professionals and friends around the world through the CPA Australia Congress, webinars and international career fairs.
"I was also given the opportunity to join the Malaysia Divisional Council and chair the Women in Business committee, which has certainly enlarged my network circle.
"It was personally enriching for me to be in the company of people who are professionals, have integrity and the spirit of excellence, and are always thinking about bringing out the best in themselves and in the business community."
However, while continuing to strive for their goals, all three women leaders say they have learnt the value of balancing working to achieve career goals with "me time".
For Lay Keng, gardening and photographing the beauty of Nature are ways to relax; for Narita, a morning walk outdoors with a podcast on, or cooking a restaurant menu at home, bring contentment.
Says Ree Nie: "Having a balanced life is never easy, especially dealing with corporate requirements and challenging parenting obligations.
"Nevertheless, it is where CPA Australia plays a crucial significance, from the exposure and resourceful engagement with many over the region that strengthens the confidence to ensure official expectations are well-fulfilled."
She advises young female leaders: "Work your plans and pursue your dreams, as your visions may well be just a step away."
Join a complimentary Become a CPA info webinar to find out more about the CPA Program and enjoy a waiver on the application fee.
The CPA Program has special admission pathways with other professional bodies for those holding other professional qualifications. There are special exemptions available under the CPA Australia-MIA MOU pathway for MIA members with a minimum of five years of MIA membership in good standing.
The 'CPA Australia - Yayasan Peneraju Sponsorship' and the 'CPA Australia - Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) - MARA Education Loan' for S1 2022 is now open for registrations.
To find out more, please fill out a simple form by scanning the QR Code below or call or WhatsApp 012-229 6746 or 012-207 5772.