Act locally for a global career

Do you want to take your accounting and finance career globally? Becoming a member of CPA Australia in the Philippines could be your ticket to making a big impact on the world stage.

After living and working in Singapore for 12 years, in early 2022 Sherry Lou Pena CPA (Aust.) returned to the Philippines and now holds a key role as a Practice Director at a global accounting and consulting firm, KNAV.

It’s another step forward in a successful career that was complemented by her being a member of CPA Australia. She started CPA Australia’s CPA Program in June 2017 and attained the CPA status in June the following year.

“Working overseas gives you a global perspective, cross-cultural awareness, stronger communication skills, and overall professional development,” Sherry says.

Sherry Lou Pena CPA (Aust.) at KOMA Singapore, Marina Bay Sands.

“The CPA Program supplements this by providing context to what was, for me, a learning experience. The topics in the program are directly relevant to a global accounting practice.”

Pathway to success

Being keen to enhance her CPA Philippines license with an internationally recognized accounting designation, she decided to pursue the membership pathway of CPA Australia with the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA).

CPA Australia’s collaboration with the Professional Regulatory Commission’s Board of Accountancy (BOA) and PICPA means accounting and finance professionals and graduates in the Philippines can apply for CPA Australia Associate membership through the Member Pathway Agreement, with benefits and potential exemptions for BOA license holders and PICPA members.

Given her international focus, Sherry found the program’s capstone subject Global Strategy and Leadership particularly interesting.

“It’s very insightful, as it provides executive oversight and strategic direction on current and emerging technologies and business models, which I find highly effective in my role,” she says.

To anyone hesitating about embarking on the CPA Program, she emphases that with fast-paced changes in today’s world, advances in technology and disruption of traditional ways of doing business, continuous learning is more important than ever for career development.

“The skills learned from the CPA Program provide the foundation to cover not only accounting and financial reporting, but also strategic management, governance, and leadership,” she says.

Your keys to better learning

“When I was in Singapore, CPA Australia’s member services offered access to not only technical and soft skills learning, but networking opportunities through events such as wine-tasting sessions to general conversations about accounting issues or job opportunities. CPA Australia membership is more than just an accounting affiliation – it’s a community of like-minded individuals who just happen to be CPAs.”

CPA Australia offers full-time and self-paced online study with a range of guided learning tools to support participants. However, juggling work pressures while completing the program – especially when it comes to sitting CPA Australia exams – requires discipline.

Sherry performed exceptionally well in the program but said there’s no secret to her success.

“Being prepared for any exam is key, so planning your studies and understanding, rather than just memorizing, is a critical factor.

“I love reading books and can finish a novel in one sitting. I thought self-paced online study would be no different, but I was so wrong!

“It took a lot of discipline, allocating at least two hours a day – mostly during the quiet night hours – for the long reads and quizzes. I remember skipping some dine-outs to spend time in the library to study. During my last paper, it was fortunate my then employer gave me a few days off for study leave, which helped reduce work pressures before exam day.”

Globally recognized designation

Indeed, she believes employers place a high value on those who achieve CPA status from international affiliates like CPA Australia and that gives jobseekers a competitive edge.

“The CPA Program and membership of CPA Australia is a good start to create an international career while working in the Philippines and gaining accounting experience,” she says. “It has certainly helped to set me apart from other locally qualified candidates.”

In other words, it’s a great complement to the existing CPA Philippines designation.

Importantly, as the leader of her firm’s international assurance support and audit practice in the Philippines, Sherry is optimistic that CPA Australia’s valuable networking opportunities will allow her to further enhance KNAV’s profile and business development.

Sherry Lou Pena CPA (Aust.): “The CPA Australia designation is more than just an accounting affiliation.”

She also notes that with businesses becoming more internationalized, the accounting and auditing mindset is being globalized.

“Business transactions once recorded through paper journals or columnar have now evolved to the cloud and banking applications can be done from our phones. With that, auditing has become more analytical and therefore client engagement is more important.”

As such, she says that it helps to become a member of a globally recognized accounting institution that offers the learning tools necessary to operate successfully in a global environment.

“In a way, I feel the name ‘CPA Australia’ creates a misnomer through the impression it only caters to CPAs or businesses in Australia.”

The reality, she says, is that it speaks to the body’s heritage and where it was founded.

Now, in 2023, CPA Australia is an established, sought after, and internationally recognized CPA designation with more than 170,000 members in over 100 countries and regions.

Those interested in undertaking the CPA Program can learn more about it by attending one of CPA Australia’s upcoming ‘Become a CPA’ information session.

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