A head for figures

When Miss Ong Jia Qi starts working at the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO), she would like to contribute to public sector governance.

The 21-year-old is currently in the third year of her Bachelor of Business Administration (Accountancy) at the National University of Singapore and expects to graduate next year.

She is a recipient of the AGO Auditing Service Scholarship, which offers undergraduates a career as a national auditor with the organisation after graduation.

Scholarship recipients are bonded to the organisation for four years, and serve internships during summer holidays while they are still studying.

Scope for self-learning

“When looking through the list of available scholarships, I was drawn to the AGO Auditing Service Scholarship.

“I would not be just an auditor, but the nation’s auditor, and I immediately knew that that was the direction I wanted to head in,” says Miss Ong.

She decided to pursue accounting at university level as she enjoyed mathematics at Victoria Junior College.

“I have come to realise that accounting and mathematics are actually worlds apart,” she says.

However, she believes she made the right choice as pursuing an accounting degree will provide her with a variety of competencies and a platform to challenge herself.

She says: “Auditing exposes one to many different fi elds of knowledge and requires a lot of self-learning and discovery. It is not just about the numbers; there is much more to it.”

Creating paper trails

Her introduction to auditing in the real world came during her three-month internship at the AGO during the summer holidays last year.

“The internship was an eye-opening experience for me. What I learnt in school came alive as I was able to apply what I studied in my audit module to the work I did in AGO,” she says.

During the internship, she was involved in the Government Financial Statements (GFS) Audit and Selective Audit.

She conducted a fi rst-level assessment of variances in the accounts before passing them to senior staff for higher-level reviews.

Plus, as reconciling and verifying fi gures were part of her tasks for the GFS Audit, she was exposed to the Government Audit Framework, its related legislations and mandates.

She also learnt how to use various audit techniques and legends involved in forming an audit trail.

For Selective Audits, she also had to conduct an analytical review of the variances in the Statement of Financial Position and Income and Expenditure Statement.

“My audit group gave me a lot of guidance. There was also room for exploration and self-discovery, and I was often encouraged to think creatively of possible risks that could occur during the audit,” she says.

While involved in Procurement Audit, she learnt to have an eye for detail as procurement procedures have to adhere to government directives and guidelines.

“The Procurement Audit allowed me to visualise the entire purchasing process, from ensuring that there were proper approving authorities and that the approvals were in accordance with the monetary limit as stated,” she adds.

Charting a career path

After graduation, she will start out as an associate audit offi cer at the AGO.

She already has plans to upgrade her skills by going for courses such as the Certifi ed Fraud Examiner (CFE) plus the Singapore Qualifi cation Programme (SQP) to qualify as a Chartered Accountant, as these courses will be able to complement her skills.

AGO also sponsors offi cers for such relevant professional certifi cations.

“I believe that my work will defi – nitely interest me further to take up all these available courses.

“At the same time, these courses can equip me with skill sets that can help me contribute back to AGO in the future,” she says.