*Written second week of December 2014.*
One year and eleven days ago to be exact, I found myself entering both a workplace and an extension of school. As fresh board passers, more than half of our batch from UP signed up with SGV. Most went to audit, others went to tax. I was one of the few ones who ventured into an unpopular path.As a fresh CPA who doesn’t want to go to audit, I joined the firm as an associate of the Transaction Advisory Services (TAS) group which conducts due diligence and valuations for mergers and acquisitions, among others.
When I joined in, I found myself amused with the school-like set-up of SGV. Out of the 4000+ fresh board passers from the October 2013 batch, one-fourth were recruited by SGV alone. This explains why SGV has a relatively young population and is regarded more as an educational institution than as an employer. For instance, since it was December that time, the mood was festive, and the first tasks we held after the orientation were to buy art materials and to create Christmas hats for our market group’s Christmas party! Talk about org work!
There were four of us from UP that time who joined TAS which is currently the smallest service line of SGV – composing only of around 30 people, with two partners that time, compared with the 4000+ employees of the whole firm. Yet it brings in the highest level of revenue per employee. It’s primarily because most of the clients are foreign companies which are more generous in granting service fees. Simply put, our job is to study the company they wish to buy and submit a written report containing our analysis and advice about that target company for acquisition.
You see, SGV is better known for its audit and tax services. Each time we mention we come from TAS, we have to give a brief background of what our work is about. It is a very specialized service line not much availed by Philippine companies except conglomerates and other expansion-aggressive firms. We work on time-constrained projects (around 3-4 weeks) from different industries and deal with various clients from around the globe. Each engagement feels like we’re doing a feasibility or case study every time – only with real potential monetary impact.
It was the thrilling prospect of exposure to this variety that attracted me to TAS- the idea of analysing things from a bird’s eye view and contributing to the decision-making activities of a company. However, later on, I realized that at the end of the day, we’re mere advisers and it’s still up to the company whether they consider our word and proceed with the acquisition or dismiss the whole idea altogether.
As of date, I was involved in four completed projects and two ongoing projects. After a year, I could say that I have learned a lot from digging first-hand into financial information and various market and industry research. My college knowledge has been reinforced, yet I realized that there still so much more to learn.
It is through this experience that I’ve proved SGV as a prime knowledge and training institution, and experiencing it has been something I would always be thankful and privileged of.
On being a grown-up – not!
SGV was our first stint in the so-called “real world” and all this independence talk and act-like-a-grown-up pressure after the board exams straightened all of us up in a way. We were kids in corporate attires figuring our way within the avenues of Makati or the chain of Ayala Malls. As time went by, we still found ourselves as clueless young adults swimming through seas of advices, misconceptions, and our own internal queries we cannot address to anyone but amongst ourselves.
I was blessed to have my closest friends in college still with me within the firm and we managed to encourage each other through regular Bible studies. The vast network within SGV and the openness among one another fostered a valuable atmosphere of camaraderie. Perhaps, this is what I’ll miss most about the firm – its warmth through its people.
Whenever anyone asks me why I am leaving, I feel stunned like it was always my first time to be asked that question. I am not sure if this is the best decision for now, but I know that whatever happens, my God goes before me.
I would not try to sugar coat my experiences nor bash SGV. I had my ups and downs within the firm. For all it’s worth, I know that SGV already has an established reputation both as an institution and as an employer. I would be careful to give an honest and realistic answer here: 1) The workload can become very intense and unpredictable. There were times when we’d be asked to work on weekends just a day before. Sometimes even scheduled vacation leaves can become cancelled as the work demands and 2) The pay is not commensurate to the long work hours you put in. These two reasons are what made me realize that I cannot sustain this type of work given my own aspirations and goals. So I’m venturing out to immerse myself in a different though related field in finance.
It should be fair for me to say however, that the first-hand training and learnings from wiser people and peers I got from SGV are so precious and invaluable. I am grateful in how SGV gave me a lot of opportunities to meet a lot of awesome people.
I am also thrilled to have a continued one year of constant communication with my close friends from college while at the same time be able to start new friendships with SGV batch mates.
Perhaps, it is this familiar school-like environment of SGV that both attracts me to stay and propels me to go.
1st photo grabbed from glassdoor.com; 2nd photo grabbed from youtube.com