Joyce Yuen

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Living and working in today’s global society, it has become increasingly important to be armed with skills and knowledge that can be applied across borders – both geographical and cultural.

So one of the key elements to look for in any MBA programme is one that offers a global perspective – and accounting is just one of the areas in which a global perspective can be imperative for success.

Currently working as Assurance Manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Japan, we spoke to Joyce Yuen about how she uses the global perspective she has gained from her Imperial Global Online MBA studies to inform her work in providing cross-border advice to Japanese clients.

Q: You currently work as Assurance Manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers. In your role, you provide cross-border advice to Japanese clients. What does this involve?

A: I assist Japanese corporations, mainly energy companies, in their business overseas. Companies in the energy business are subject to extensive regulation in tax and accounting requirements. To face these regulatory risks, my role is to assess the compliance needs and issues of each Japanese company, engage and connect with the wider experts within the PwC network, and feed back to my Japanese clients. Situations arising from these regulatory risks include transition to new accounting standards, cross-border acquisition, consolidation of overseas subsidiaries, and incorporation of new overseas entities. Understanding the complexity of regulatory changes and issues, I offer clients my assistance, supported by well-documented and understood principles and values. In many cases, I visit my clients’ overseas subsidiaries for face-to-face meetings to better understand their needs.

Q: How do you think your Global Online MBA studies have helped you in your role?

I look at accounting issues and accounting standards (IFRS, USGAAP and JGAAP) every day, however I found my MBA studies exceptionally challenging when I needed to focus on these from an academic perspective.

Management accounting is an area I haven’t touched on in my 12-year career. It focusses on the accounting used internally within a company, but my expertise had been limited to external accounting. However after studying the Financial and Management Accounting module, I can now put myself into my clients’ shoes better as I know more about budget, planning and decision, performance evaluation and analysis. This is especially useful when I visit the subsidiaries of my oil and gas clients overseas, as I can think from their perspective parallel with the concerns of their Japanese headquarters (HQ). Understanding their Japanese HQ from a regulatory perspective (external accounting) versus the budgeting, evaluation and cost perspective from the local subsidiaries’ point of view (internal accounting), I can now add more substance and value to my discussions during my overseas visits to these subsidiaries.

Q: What are the key learnings you’ve gained from your online MBA studies so far?

The programme drives me to be a better ‘team-player’ since I now understand what’s expected in a team. When leading teams, I can put myself in my team members’ shoes and think about what kind of leadership style I should demonstrate to motivate them.

The shrinking population in Japan means we will have less graduates and qualified accountants – we already have a decreasing number of accountants in this country. To attract younger generations to stay in this industry, managers need to be aware of their leadership styles and what motivates people. As a female accountant, I feel my Global Online MBA studies have enhanced my overall development to help me become an all-round professional in this population-shrinking country. My wish is to create an image within PwC Japan that being an accountant can be an enticing role.

Q: Do you think your online MBA studies have provided you with a greater ability to provide cross-border advice to clients?

Yes – definitely. I was previously too specialised in public accounting and had an industry focus. A fresh brush-up of my knowledge in corporate finance, marketing management and economics (particularly game theory) has allowed me to participate in a more substantial discussion with clients at the executive level. This helps in building relationships with my clients, which is beyond the technical accounting needs of my daily work.

My Global Online MBA studies also focus on globalisation, which is particularly useful when my clients open new businesses around the globe, and since PwC also focus on a globalised landscape. Discussion with people from other continents now requires a very good understanding of a vast range of topics. Although I can acquire a lot of this from newspapers, through my MBA studies I can ensure the topics I discuss have both their theoretical base and a practical application in our modern world. In my company, we not only need a cross-border business mind-set, we also need a cross-line of services mind-set. My clients are looking at business issues from diverse angles, and they expect that their business advisors know more than they do. With my solid accounting background as a foundation, my Global Online MBA studies have now taken my knowledge and abilities to new heights.

Joyce Yuen is currently studying the Global Online MBA programme offered through Imperial College London Business School. Find out more about the Global Online MBA programme.

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