Words from Within: A Conversation with SFU Alumnus

Words from Within: A Conversation with SFU Alumnus

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Travis Wong graduated in 2009 with BBA in accounting. He is currently working as a Senior Accountant at KPMG and is actively involved in the SFU community by being on the board for SFU Alumni Association.

 

Could you tell me a little more about your role as a Senior Accountant at KPMG?

As an engagement senior for the audits of a variety of public companies including those with market capitalizations exceeding $8.0 billion, I am well versed in the techniques to ensure successful organizational design. I have interviewed corporate executives in order to evaluate and test various business processes, both at a Company’s mine site as well as at its corporate head office. My extensive knowledge of internal controls compliance has allowed me to work as a consultant for companies such as Goldcorp Inc. to recommend and implement management best practices to ensure compliance with securities legislation.

 

What kind of on campus activities were you involved in while you were in school?

JDC west (assistant captain, captain, competitor, coach)

Co-op (4 terms), 2 with KPMG, 2 with small marketing/branding company

TA (BUS 251)

Through JDC west experience I gained skills that still is beneficial to me in the real world of work – To think on my feet, to be comfortable with facilitating presentations, to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations and to be self confident. Just by being an active student, interacting with your peers and getting involved in different activities, you will be learning without even realizing. 

I didn’t know I was going to be in an accounting field after graduation. All I knew was that I was comfortable with numbers and analysis. I wanted to understand and see the big picture of how the business world is actually run and thought that the major corporation was the best place to learn that. I applied for Co-op position with KPMG and had my 2 Co-op terms with them. It was after a Co-op term with KPMG that I decided I wanted to pursue accounting. 

I feel like there is so much still to learn. You are still sheltered in university (e.g. easy to meet people, low risk environment etc). Take advantage of that and meet people, explore your options.

 

What strategies and techniques did you find useful in transitioning to the world of work? 

Maintaining my network of friends and colleagues. Always seeking out advice from people smarter than you. Which is everyone when you are a recent grad. 

 

I understand you volunteered as a speaker/table host for Backpack to Briefcase. What did you want to achieve out of this experience?

I wanted to give students practical tips on 2 different things:

How being SFU alumni can help you secure a job. There is an online directory that you can take advantage of as SFU graduate. On it, you can add and see the list of other alumni profiles. Broadening your network is very important. It is one of the key things that you should be aware of and work on right after graduation. Also don’t be afraid to approach people on linkedIn or Facebook (whichever is provided) – use being SFU alumni as a connection. Being an SFU alumni can be a huge connection that can be formed. Ask them to have coffee with you. Let them know that you are a recent graduate and would like to ask a couple questions regarding the field. Most people will be open to the idea and try to help you. 

How staying involved with the SFU Alumni Association is a mutually beneficial relationship. By staying connected, you get access to a lot of events – Get involved in networking events and different social activities with the Young Alumni Group. This will help you broaden your network and support group.

 

What are your top reasons for staying connected with your alma mater?  

I consider myself lucky to have been introduced to numerous opportunities through various sources, including faculty, staff, and friends. As is evident from my extensive extracurricular experiences, I am grateful for having learnt about and benefited from the opportunities available to me and my peers at SFU.

As such, I value the role of the SFU Alumni Association for the services it provides, the events it holds and supports (either financially or otherwise), and the communication efforts used to keep thousands of us somehow feeling connected to our outstanding university. From participating in and now coaching case competitions, and from outstanding academic achievements to teaching (as a part-time TA), I believe that my diverse range of roles on the hill make me a great addition to the Board. Being a part of the Alumni Board will give me another opportunity to continue giving back to the SFU community. Whether it is on or off campus, I hope that my actions inspire others and empower them to make a change themselves. I value higher education and community involvement very highly, and look forward to seeing how the SFU Alumni Association continues to advocate both, hopefully including my input in the near future.

 

Any tips and/or advice for current students, upcoming graduates or recent alumni?

Don’t get discouraged but keep pursuing with persistence. Using a Facebook analogy, people only post good news. People will only hear about good news on Facebook such as someone getting a new job, someone is traveling around the world or someone being promoted. Don’t let your friend’s good news discourage you. Use it as an inspiration and motivation for yourself. When I submitted the application, I didn’t think I was going to be nominated to be on the board for SFU Alumni Association. Sometimes opportunities lay where you least expect them.

Be open to opportunities and seek out diverse experiences.

 

Posted on April 12, 2012
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