...with winning formula for work-life balance

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 October, 2011, 12:00am


The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) Career Forum once again provided students with a chance to quiz accounting-industry practitioners about the minutiae of their professional life. Among the more widely discussed topics of the event were stress and long working hours - widely seen as hallmark characteristics of the profession.

Asked why accountants are subject to these things, HKICPA president Phillip Tsai notes that enhanced connectivity has a lot to do with it.

'In the modern era, we all have cell phones, BlackBerrys and iPads. As a result, the point where work ends and life begins is increasingly blurred,' he says, adding it is crucial to maintain work-life balance with out-of-work activities, hobbies and friendships. Many of these pursuits, he says, are facilitated by HKICPA itself.

'To help accountants achieve balance, the institute offers sports and interest groups, such as football, bridge, dancing, dragon boat racing, and singing. Last year, we introduced our 25.35 group, a separate entity dedicated to developing the future leaders of the profession. Activities and groups can help accountants balance out their busy work schedules and get to know other CPAs,' Tsai says.

The president's personal approach to work pressure is to make a dash for it - literally. 'I have always viewed accounting as a lifetime profession and have known there would be many obstacles to overcome. That's why I always make time to run. It gives me time to think and reflect.'

Tsai wasn't the only long-distance running advocate that took to the stage at the October 16 forum. Modern Education accounting tutor Frenda So - also a marathon runner - says he takes the same approach. 'Running energises me to work long hours and enhances my mental toughness,' he says.

But dealing with work-related hardship wasn't always easy for So. He spoke about how, after becoming an accountant, he failed to find meaning in his job and, as a result, decided to take time off. 'It was a down point but I later found a new life as an accounting educator,' he says.

Frenda So continues to run regularly and recently achieved a successful qualifiying time for the Boston Marathon.

'With a strong body and mind, one can face challenges' he says.