Name: Ong Jiaqi
Year Awarded Scholarship: 2014
Scholarship Scheme: AGO Auditing Service Scholarship
Undergraduate University: NUS
Undergraduate Course: Bachelor of Business Administration (Accountancy)
1. Why did you choose your current field of study?
I chose accounting as my course of study as I wanted to pursue a career in government auditing. I believe that attaining an accountancy degree would provide me with a variety of competencies as compared to other courses and a platform to challenge myself. Moreover, the skills acquired in the course will be really useful to me in my career in the future.
I also feel that auditing is an interesting job to take up, as it exposes one to many different fields and requires a lot of self-learning and discovery. It is not just about the numbers; there is really much more to it!
2. Why did you choose to apply for scholarship over others? Please elaborate in detail – eg. Was it coverage of tuition fees, career opportunities, internship opportunities, etc.
When I first looked through the list of scholarships that were available, I was quickly drawn to the AGO Auditing Service Scholarship. If I was given the opportunity, I would not just be an auditor, but the nation’s auditor. I immediately knew that that was the direction I would want to head towards, as I would be given the chance to serve the nation and the public service sector in my own way.
3. What has so far been the most useful part of the scholarship offerings for you? Please elaborate why. (eg. Internships, grants, etc). How has getting the scholarship been more useful than if you did not have it?
I went back to AGO for my 3 months summer internship during July 2016. It was a real eye-opening experience for me. I felt that what I learned in school came “alive” as I was able to apply what I studied in my audit module to the audit work I was exposed to in AGO. The internship provided me with an opportunity to grow as a scholar of AGO by familiarizing myself with AGO’s work. The 10 weeks of on-the-job training has definitely sharpened my analytical and thinking skills.
I learned more about the audits that AGO is involved in, mainly the Government Financial Statements audit as well as Selective Audit - the latter being unique to AGO. I also learned that in the course of audit work, we have to adhere to the government framework and legislations. This truly makes it unique and special from other private auditing firms.
4. What are some of your career aspirations and how do you think the scholarship will help you achieve them? Please elaborate in detail.
One of my personal beliefs is integrity, which coincides with one of AGO’s core values. AGO’s stress on public accountability is what would drive me the most in my audit work in the future as I would hold a great responsibility in helping to ensure that public funds are accounted for.
5. Please share your internship experience. What were your job duties, the working environment, your top 3 learning experiences, etc.
I was involved in both the Government Financial Statements Audit as well as Selective Audit during my internship with AGO.
For the Government Financial Statements Audit, I was able to better understand the Government Audit Framework and the related legislations, mandates, as well as government instruction manuals which help to guide government audits in general. I was assigned the task of doing a first level review check before my audit seniors did the higher level reviews. I also had to reconcile and verify figures, for instance, of the cash master list. I learned the usage of various audit techniques and legends used, which is extremely important in order to form a proper audit trail.
Additionally, I had to conduct an analytical review in analysing variances in the Statement of Financial Position as well as Income and Expenditure Statement. My supervisor guided me in the identification of significant and material variances. I had to observe trends over the financial year and assess the possible causes that might have led to these variances. There was also a need to take into consideration the responses from the auditee in relation to those variances identified and whether it was reasonable or logical to accept those reasons.
I was also tasked to do a Procurement Audit in relation to purchase transactions. It taught me to have an eye for detail as it is important for procurement procedures to adhere to the Government Instruction Manuals. The Procurement Audit allowed me to visualise the entire purchasing process, from ensuring that there were proper approving authorities and that the approvals were in accordance with the monetary limit as stated.
6. What are you most looking forward to learning / doing when you graduate and start working in your bonded company?
During my internship with AGO, my audit group gave me a lot of guidance. There was also room for exploration and self-discovery, and I was often encouraged to think creatively of possible risks that could occur during the audit. I look forward to learning even more from them once I embark on this journey upon graduation. I hope to be more analytical just like the others, and I believe that this definitely comes with a lot of experience.
7. Do you have plans to take on further certification such as ACCAs and the CA (Singapore)? How will working at AGO help should you decide to pursue further courses?
Yes, I am aware that there are other available courses out there such as the Certified Fraud Examiner as well as the Singapore Qualification Programme (SQP) to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. These courses focus on other aspects of accounting, which can complement the skills that I need in audit work. In fact, I do know that AGO sponsors officers for relevant professional certifications, which includes the courses mentioned above.
I believe that my work in AGO would definitely interest me further to take up all these available courses. At the same time, these courses can equip me with skill sets which can help contribute back to AGO in the future.
8. Would you recommend others to apply for this scholarship? Please explain why. (eg. the opportunities and benefits available, etc)
Yes, I definitely will! I believe that this scholarship opens up many great opportunities in terms of career advancement, as well as to equip you with life-long learning skills. It is definitely an opportunity to be exposed to a different world of auditing, and being the nation’s auditor.
9. What advice would you give to prospective scholarship recipients?
I feel that this ultimately depends on your passion and what you truly enjoy doing. With passion, anything is possible because you would put your heart and soul into it no matter what obstacles you face. I definitely did not expect to be awarded the scholarship, but I am very grateful for this opportunity given to me. Learning is a life-long process, and that includes experiential learning. Personally, I feel that a scholarship allows me to further develop and grow and at the same time give me a clear direction of what I want to do in the future. So ask yourself: ‘What do you really love?’, and ‘Why not give it a shot’!