Bobby Chin (BAcc 1974)
Mr Bobby Chin has led a distinguished career. After graduating from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a Bachelor of Accountancy in 1974, he joined the global accounting firm Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co., which would later become KPMG Singapore.
No substitute for hard work
He was soon seconded to the firm’s office in the UK. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, he returned to Singapore and became a partner in 1983. In just nine years, he became the firm’s Managing Partner, a position he served from 1992 until his retirement in 2005. Today, he is the Chairman of the Singapore Totalisator Board, a position he has held since 2006.
Mr Chin attributes his success to an old fashioned virtue – hard work. He put work above almost everything else, especially in the early years.
“At one time, I gave almost 100 percent to work before I got married,” said Mr Chin. He firmly believed that if he wanted to forge a career, he needed to work hard to achieve what he wanted and set out in life.
He has no regrets about working hard to get where he is today. “Being able to achieve what you set out to do through hard work is something that I’m pretty proud of,” related Mr Chin.
He feels that achieving a good work-life balance should be something people aim for later in life after they succeed in their main career goals. “As you grow older, you can afford the luxury of balance,” advises Mr Chin.
A strong academic background
Apart from hard work, he also attributes his success to his time at NUS, where he studied for three years to get a Bachelor of Accountancy in 1974. “NUS Business School gave me a solid foundation in furthering my career. I was seconded to the office of Peat Marwick and I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to sit for my professional exam, which is the Chartered Accountancy, in the UK,” remembers Mr Chin.
He qualified as a Chartered Accountant at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales in 1979. “I used to tell my colleagues that passing the exam was not difficult, because of the very solid foundation in the (NUS) Bachelor of Accountancy program,” said Mr Chin.
Apart from the academic foundation he attained, the university years were valuable in other ways as well. “The comradeship, the people you meet, and the friendships forged at the National University of Singapore were very helpful,” noted Mr Chin. He believed these skills were essential in the private sector, as it is important to further your career through the relationships that you’ve built.
From the perspective of someone who has spent his life in the corporate sector, he believes that mistakes are inevitable, and he used to tell his staff that “life is not a bed of roses,” as there will be ups and downs.
Sharing his professional expertise
“In life, it’s never 100 percent, even to people who are perfectionists, you can’t achieve 100 percent of what you want to achieve. It’s the 80-20 rule. If you can achieve 80 percent success and 20 percent failure, it is considered good,” reflects Mr Chin.
He has certainly hit those numbers. Even after retiring from KPMG, his expertise is much sought after. In 2008, he chaired the Audit Committee Guidance Committee, which was appointed by the Monetary Association of Singapore, the Singapore Exchange, and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority Singapore to develop practical guidance to assist Audit Committees.
He was also appointed by the Minister for Finance to chair the Committee to Develop the Accountancy Sector in Singapore. In September 2010, he was appointed to chair the Pro-tem Singapore Accountancy Council. These numerous appointments demonstrate the high regard he maintains within the accountancy industry in Singapore.
Finally finding work – life balance in retirement
While now retired, he still keeps busy by sitting in as an independent director on various boards. Apart from being Chairman of the Singapore Totalisator Board, his other appointments include serving as a Board member in the Singapore Labour Foundation, Competition Commission of Singapore, and NTUC Enterprise Co-operative Limited. He was also the Chairman of the Urban Redevelopment Authority from 2001 to 2006 and served nine years on the Board of SINDA. In January 2010, he was appointed as a member of the Council of Presidential Advisers.
His many years of experience have also made him highly sought after by Singapore’s blue chip companies, and he sits on the Boards of several listed companies including Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, Sembcorp Industries Limited, Singapore Telecommunications Limited, AV Jennings Ltd, Yeo Hiap Seng Limited, and Ho Bee Investments Limited.
Today, a round of golf or time spent with his son, daughter, and wife are what give him a sense of fulfillment. Mr Chin has devoted enough of his time to work. Today, he wishes to devote his time to his family, and is now enjoying the luxury of balance.
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