I currently serve as the president of the Chinese American Society of CPAs. I also serve as the national vice president of student affairs for Ascend (formerly known as the National Asian American Society of Accountants). We launched Ascend in 2005. Our vision is to enhance the presence and influence of Asians and Pacific Islanders in finance and accounting. Within three and a half years we’ve grown to over 4,000 members. We have 22 professional and student chapters across the U.S., and our members represent over 150 companies.
Ascend offers various mentorship programs. Mentors are accomplished senior Asian-American financial executives, CEOs, entrepreneurs and professional services providers. These programs are generally delivered at the locations of the mentors, providing the mentees an opportunity to showcase their companies and also providing an opportunity for their personnel to interact with the mentees. Ascend also offers a mentoring program where college students are matched with young professionals. Students will learn and gain valuable insights into the unspoken subtleties of doing business in the accounting and finance fields. The term of the mentoring relationship is designed to be one school year. However, the mentor and mentee may maintain the relationships at their discretion.
I personally have benefited greatly from having many mentors in my career. Mentoring is one of the most crucial and important factors in career success. I would like to give back and develop our future leaders and help them succeed. At Ascend’s inaugural annual National Convention in August, I was approached by students and young professionals seeking a mentor. I feel honored and privileged because I will have the opportunity to work with a new generation of leaders and provide guidance in their career decisions. I believe many mentoring relationships will lead to lifetime relationships.
I was born and raised in Taiwan, and when I was young, I was told that I should try to get into one of the three professions: medicine, law or accounting. And personally I don’t like blood, so that made it two choices. I decided to take my first accounting class in my high school senior year and was able to quickly understand the accounting principles. The class reassured my determination on becoming a certified public accountant. And then, when I came to the United States (I was 17), I majored in accounting at Cal Poly Pomona.
I wanted to get hands-on experience when I was going to school at Cal Poly Pomona. So I looked in the Yellow Pages and called all the accounting firms. “I want to work between my home and school—part time,” I said. That’s how I got my first part-time job with a local public accounting firm. The firm had two partners, and they both came from Big Eight firms. I built a solid foundation as a staff accountant by working there for three and a half years. And then I got an offer from the regional firm Moore Stephens Wurth Frazer and Torbet, a member of Moore Stephens International, an accounting firm association.
There was a big market out there that we had not explored. Geographically, Moore Stephens Wurth Frazer and Torbet was located in City of Industry, Calif., and 60% of companies were Chinese- or Asian-owned. So I went to the managing partner, shared with him my desire to develop this Asian client base and he agreed. Within three months we got our first Asian-owned audit client. Asian Services became one of the largest practice areas within the firm.
I have worked in Ernst & Young’s Risk Advisory Services for over seven years. I enjoy what I do and am able to balance my career with my personal life with support from the people I work with. I am afforded the opportunity to work from home and prioritize my professional commitments as well as my personal commitments.
I would definitely encourage any young person to join the accounting profession. There are so many opportunities. You need to know what you want, set your career goals and plans, and give your best.