One Minute Interview
Ms Goh Geok Cheng, CFO, Executive Vice President and CFO of Prudential Assurance Co Singapore Pte Ltd.
1. Most of your career has been in the insurance industry. Could you tell us a little more about what it's like?
The insurance industry is one that is full of excitement and opportunities. It is also very fast-paced; filled with challenges given the context of today's global economy.
Excitement - there is so much to be done such as to create public awareness of insurance; coming up with solutions which we know will benefit Singaporeans in the long run.
Opportunities - this is where creativity plays a very important role. Insurance does not need to be boring. It is about how to reach out to the customers and help them understand the importance of insurance.
Fast-paced - there have been many regulatory reforms on the insurance front over the last 3 years. All the changes such as the introduction of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), corporate governance, technological risk management etc. are good and sound practices which one would expect a financial hub like Singapore to adopt. However, to have these rolled out within a short period of time is a challenge to the industry.
Challenges - given the low interest rate environment, we have a challenge to ensure customers' expectations on the long term returns are being managed.
2. What prompted you to pursue the ACCA qualification?
I came to know about ACCA during my visits to my aunt when I was still very young. One of our favourite topics then was about of my uncle's and cousin's progress on their ACCA journey. I was exposed to ACCA at a very young age and thus, when I completed my GCE ‘O' levels, I decided to follow in my cousin's footsteps by getting a diploma and thereafter pursuing ACCA.
Having made this decision, I needed to ensure I could complete ACCA within a maximum of two and a half years. The added advantage for starting ACCA right after diploma was that I would still be on par with my peers after a period of five years yet two years of working experience
3. Having worked up the corporate ladder, what traits would you say have contributed to your success?
My perseverance, inquisitiveness and integrity. At the same time being humble and empathetic helped get me where I am.
4. What are some of the biggest work challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is always not the work itself but what happens externally.
i) Talent - insurance is a specialised industry and with the changing landscape, we need a lot more talents than before. One of the ways in which we overcome this is to recruit both experienced and younger workers. It is important to have the balance as the experienced worker can provide the industry knowledge while the younger worker can complement with the technical know-how and their innovative spirit.
Eg. When we recruit a pricing manager in the actuarial department, a younger worker will add a lot of value on analysis, market competitiveness but the experienced worker will tell you how to avoid a bad pricing based on his/her past experience which only time will tell if pricing has been done correctly or otherwise.
ii) Connections - as the business gets more complex and large in scale, we start to see more specialisation in peoples' jobs. The challenge is how to connect these and make the work force continue to see the bigger picture while discharging their respective duties and responsibilities.
5. What has been some of the best career advice you have received?
I am very fortunate that I have received advice and feedback from people around me throughout my career. To ensure this is the case, you have to be genuine in wanting to listen.
I would like to share two quotes given to me by my two of my ex-bosses,
- Winners empower others, and
- When you cannot make up your mind over two evenly causes, choose the bolder.
6. And finally, with such a demanding schedule, how do you manage balancing work and family? What advice can you offer fellow members?
Discipline and time management. In the earlier part of my career when my children were younger, I did not get to sleep till past midnight. This is because I will finish work at around seven in the evening, spend about two to three hours with my family and thereafter continue with my work for another two hours when they are in bed.
In the last few years, I balanced my time by starting work very early at 6.45am, which gave me two hours of quality time to myself.
Make small changes to your daily arrangement, be it going into work an hour earlier or target to get home by certain time of the day. It really helps me in keeping a work life balance.