For Sarah Amalina, ICAEW sets itself apart by presenting unique challenges to its candidates. Ensuring that only the most deserving individuals qualify as chartered accountants under their prestigious banner.
Sarah Amalina is in her seventh year at PETRONAS, a major oil and gas company and a Fortune Global 500 company. Over the years, she has established herself as a manager in the upstream business unit.
With a dynamic work environment, this Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ) and London School of Economics (LSE) alumna is constantly on the move, leading her team, coordinating projects, and ensuring smooth operations. Navigating the intricacies of the industry, she reflects on her journey that has contributed to her current success.
The power of discipline and diligence
Sarah’s first professional job was at Deloitte, a multinational professional services firm known as one of the “Big Four.” She held the role of assistant manager and was involved in auditing telecommunications, media, and technology firms.
While working at Deloitte, Sarah took on the challenge of pursuing a professional accountancy qualification from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
Juggling work and studies were no easy feat. After finishing work at six, Sarah diligently went to the library to study. While many found the ICAEW materials challenging, Sarah found Kaplan instrumental in helping her pass the exams. Known not just for its educational excellence but also for its cadre of seasoned tutors, Kaplan stands out as one of the select few tuition centres accredited by ICAEW. It was a natural choice for Sarah, who was eager to ensure her journey with ICAEW was both enriching and successful.
“The support I received was unparalleled,” Sarah reminisces with gratitude. “From the tutors’ expertise to the detailed yet concise notes they provided; every resource was highly effective.” It wasn’t just about passing exams for Sarah; it was about truly understanding and mastering her field, and Kaplan’s made that vision possible. The highlight? The meticulously curated notes that not only simplified complex topics but also ignited a passion for learning within her.
This cycle continued for two years as she dedicated all her efforts to passing the exam.
During her internship at an audit firm, a partner recommended to her to pursue the ICAEW qualification.
She emphasises that ICAEW offers unique challenges compared to other accounting qualifications. To become ICAEW qualified, candidates must complete the required papers and train with a certified employer endorsed by ICAEW to ensure high standards. ICAEW also has one of the strictest policies regarding retaking failed papers, ensuring that only the most capable candidates qualify.
Sarah highlights that major firms like the Big Four and professional services offer their executives the opportunity to pursue ICAEW due to its widespread recognition. Sarah herself joined Deloitte London and successfully completed all the papers within two years.
A coveted career in Deloitte and PETRONAS
After working at Deloitte in the UK for three years, Sarah returned to Malaysia to work for her sponsor, PETRONAS. PETRONAS is a Malaysian multinational oil and gas company with a presence in over fifty countries, including Canada, Qatar, and Iraq.
Transitioning from working at Deloitte in the UK to a local setting was an interesting change for Sarah. It involved adapting to different work environments and shifting her career goals.
During her first two years at Deloitte, Sarah’s focus was primarily on passing her ICAEW qualification while learning the ropes at work. In PETRONAS, she shifted her focus to climbing the corporate ladder and pursuing initiatives that would help her stand out.
The learning curve was steep as she started her journey at PETRONAS as an executive in group accounts and reporting, eventually becoming a manager in the upstream business unit.
While the transition was overwhelming, Sarah embraced the challenge and sought advice from her senior counterparts, making the transition seamless.
A hidden talent
In addition to her aptitude for numbers and data analysis, Sarah possesses an artistic talent for doodling. She enjoys creating colourful and intricate designs of caricatures and objects that tell a story to appreciative eyes.
Her talent even led her team members to entrust her with creating a congratulatory gift for the head of finance when he was promoted to chief financial officer. Sarah’s artistic abilities have mesmerised many, earning her the reputation of being the artistic individual in the finance team.
Sustaining the drive for continuous learning
Sarah’s continuous pursuit of self-improvement has been key to her success. She believes in always focusing on learning and seeking guidance from those with more knowledge. Her dedication to learning has played a vital role in staying ahead of the curve and excelling in her field.