Like many other UICers, 2011 Accounting graduate Liang Shuang has continued to put unremitting efforts to pursue her dreams after graduating from UIC. After completing all the courses of her Master's in Accounting and Finance at the University of Warwick in October 2012, she kicked off her professional career in the field of accounting and finance.

In the following years, she has progressed step by step, from a Big Four auditor to an investment manager for a big Chinese asset-management company, to a board secretary and overseas financial director for a listed company. The following is her story:

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Knowing how to adjust your mindset when first starting work

After graduating from my Master's Degree, I entered an accounting firm (one of the Big Four accounting firms) to do audit work. I remember the first gift I was given after I received the offer, it was a boarding suitcase from my mother. She said that this suitcase would become the thing that accompanies me most in the future since I probably need to travel a lot for work.

It was in October 2012. Although it was autumn, the weather in Hong Kong was still a bit hot. My parents and I dragged all my belongings to Hong Kong, which consisted of two large boxes and the suitcase I received from my mother. I watched my parents walk away, and from that moment I knew very well that it is not going to be an easy transition. The first goal was to support myself, and with that in mind, I began my work and begin my new life in an orderly manner.

My years at the accounting firm feel like a continuation of my college time. When I first joined the company, we participated in training together with colleagues, and our senior colleagues led us to complete work projects. Soon, I adapted to this environment, and I met some new friends. We would always have discussions to make progress together.

In the first year, the former senior coworker resigned and left leaving me to face the manager and finish a new project alone. There were no drafts to follow for new projects, and I needed to design the audit procedures myself, but I am a newcomer who can't help but feel stressed.

On New Year's Day, the manager called me to the office and started asking questions about my case. I felt really bad to be reprimanded on the first day of the New Year, but I calmed down and I turned the manager's harsh words into constructive criticism. I found that auditing is very interesting. After more than three years of audit work, although I have spent countless nights working and have shed a lot of sweat and tears, I found it all worthwhile.

When I was in my senior year, I participated in UIC's early bird programme of QP (Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants Qualification Programme). I completed two exams before graduation. After starting work, I completed all the QP exams before colleagues at the same level. Eventually, I was successfully promoted to assistant manager, and I was able to achieve excellence in my yearly assessment. Completing the exam ahead of time gives me more time to rest and reflect on my work experience. I would reward myself by taking vacations and travelling to different countries.

Accumulating knowledge and experience is always helpful to the career

After leaving the accounting firm, I came to a large Chinese asset-management company, and I became an investment manager. This undoubtedly brought me greater challenges. Unlike audit work, private equity investment requires expertise in accounting, finance, and law, as well as judgment on the market, industry, and overall economic situation. My accumulated work experience in auditing and the knowledge system laid down during college helped me immensely in my new line of work.

The new job's requirements for comprehensive capabilities have raised one step higher than the auditing job. When doing audit work in the past, I only looked at the numbers on the reports. Now we have to think more about the meaning behind it, and then outline the company's operating situation from it so that the data can become "alive". Not only that, but the investment also needs to deal with people, agreeing on commercial terms, protecting our interests and rights through legal terms, and ensure that transactions are effectively completed in good communication and interactions.

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When studying at UIC, I took a lot of legal-related courses, which helped me understand the overall concept of the legal system, master the basic principles of legal terms and research methods. Besides, the activities of various interest clubs and student unions at the college have also improved my communication skills. In the English-speaking environment, I was able to handle calmly when using English to communicate with well-known private equity funds and investment bankers.

I also remember preparing a new US dollar fund at that time. For a clause in the fund partnership agreement, the lawyer and the company repeatedly negotiated and revised many times. The works of the investment manager not only adds to my professional knowledge and experience but also makes me more rigorous and helps me think in a more comprehensive and in-depth manner.

In 2018, I left the company and went to another listed company. In 2019, I was promoted to board secretary and overseas financial director. Compared to the first two jobs, there are many tasks that I now need to take on alone. In the past, when there was a problem, I could consult with a senior colleague, but now I often need to judge, make decisions, and solve problems myself. Due to having higher demands for myself, every time I make decisions for my work, I will think more carefully and have a greater sense of responsibility.

Since I am still young, I am challenged and questioned in such a position, but I have always followed two points: one is to use solid professional knowledge to deal with problems, and the other is to maintain a humble heart, be thankful and calm. Slowly, I saw many partners' attitudes change, and people started to respect and trust me more.

Keep learning and be prepared

Recalling these years of experience, I think my little magic weapon is to insist on learning and always maintaining a good attitude.

The field of finance is very broad. Laying a good foundation of knowledge is the first step on the road to success. Also, it is necessary to read a lot of financial-related books and follow the current affairs and financial news to expand your knowledge and cultivate your financial sensitivity. But learning is also about the adjustment of mentality and keeping hobbies.

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Liang Shuang visits Harvard University in the United States

UIC students, if you already have a very clear career plan, I encourage you to stick to your goals and to not give up easily. If you don't have an idea yet, don't worry. You can slowly explore and dig in areas close to your subject and profession, discover your strengths and preferences, and then adjust your career direction.

After working for a long time, you will find that the plan often cannot keep up with the changes, but in any case, the opportunity must be for those who are prepared. You must firmly believe that the education you receive at UIC, the teachers and classmates you meet, the knowledge you have learned, the abilities you have trained, and the international vision you have will make you stand out in the future and become a shining star.

Translators: Lauren Richardson, Covee Wang
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He
(from MPRO)