Staying ahead of the game

In the face of competition from new technology, accountant Glenn Lim ASA (Aust.) of EY is setting a strong example on reinventing what the future holds for his career.


For most, taxation and accountancy are unlikely to get the pulse racing. However, for Glenn Lim it's one of the most exciting things he can imagine himself doing. The Singapore-based Associate (ASA) member of CPA Australia is part of an industry that’s evolving at a rapid pace, with artificial intelligence technology set to rewrite his role completely. As a young professional emerging in the industry, what does it take to overcome these pressures, prepare for the future, and succeed?

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For Lim, it all comes down to mindset.

Never one to be flippant about decisions pertaining to his life or career, Lim’s path to the professional world was extremely considered. Initially weighing up the contrasting fields of marine biology or a role in financial services, detailed research into his options and two years of National Service to consider them led Lim to a career in taxation. Through his research, CPA Australia came up time and time again as an internationally recognized professional body that offered more than just technical skill development.

Along with its international recognition and reputation, the CPA Program captured his attention because of the opportunities it presented to connect with a global network of like-minded people, all of whom faced the same challenge to stay relevant in a fast-changing business environment. Seeing networking as a valuable way to gain life experience and insights outside of his day-to-day role, Lim has relished the opportunity to speak with other professionals about their experiences, struggles, lessons learnt and what opportunities the future might hold.

Enrolling in the CPA Program fresh out of university, Lim credits CPA Australia with providing him direction, and inspiring him to pursue the uncommon path of combining tax compliance with transfer pricing, which has given him a unique point of difference to his peers. Given transfer pricing has only grown in global significance in the past 5 to 10 years, Lim is acutely aware of the fast-evolving nature of the tax industry and the need to make your career move.

In the future, they may not need middlemen like us. Everything will be automated, which is why it’s important to constantly ask yourself, ‘how do I stay relevant to the business?’

“If you can answer that question yourself, you’ll know the gaps you need to fill so you don’t become obsolete," he says. On top of the technical accounting skills that are hugely important to Lim’s occupational mandate, in particular the nuances and requirements of the Singapore tax system, Lim says the program equipped him with this invaluable mindset.

Along with CPA Australia’s future focus, what Lim found particularly meaningful was the focus on ethics and governance, and global strategy and leadership. Reflecting on his experience and the vital skills he’s gained, Lim says the CPA Program went beyond technical capabilities to teach him to think like a leader.

“I believe everyone can be a commander, but not everyone can be a good leader,” he explains. “I’ve learnt that a good leader is someone who leads by example, is willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved to help, rather than just dictating.” For Lim, this has provided both the foundational skills for leadership and the all-important mindset. “I’m aware that I have so much to learn still, particularly as the tax sector is constantly changing, but in the future, I want to be empowering younger generations with these same lessons I’m learning along the way.”

Faced with the pressure of obsolescence, a heavy workload and study commitments, it was these learnings and outcomes that kept Lim motivated along the way. “There were days I would ask myself ‘why am I doing this?’, but at the end of the day it really helped to question and remind myself of my motives and intent. It helped drive me because I knew I would need this certification, and I knew it would all be worth it in the future.”

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