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All accounted for

WHILE adapting to life in national service, Mr Eddie Soh Jing Jie scored a personal victory. After a rigorous application process that included several rounds of interviews, he was awarded the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) Auditing Service Scholarship with his family’s support. The 22-year-old Nanyang Junior College graduate was perusing a list of scholarships after his A levels when the organisation’s inaugural Auditing Service Scholarship caught his attention. Mr Soh researched the roles and responsibilities of the AGO and contacted AGO auditors to understand more about their jobs, before applying for the scholarship via the Singapore Public Service Commission portal in 2014. “Of the various scholarships available, I felt that AGO’s work resonates the most with my personal values of accountability and fairness. It captured my interest and inspired me to ensure that public funds are properly accounted for and well-utilised,” he says. The Auditing Service Scholarship is awarded to undergraduates reading accountancy at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University. Applicants must demonstrate strong leadership qualities with active participation in co-curricular activities. Awardees are required to undergo an internship with AGO during their undergraduate studies, and serve a four-year bond with the organisation upon graduation. Mr Soh adds: “Unlike other public-sector institutions that are under the jurisdiction of their respective ministries, AGO is an independent organ of the state. “This independence is crucial for AGO to fulfil its role as the nation’s auditor without fear or favour.”

Looking to the future

Mr Soh, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Accountancy degree at NTU, is currently in his second year of studies. To date, he has attended organisation-wide social and training events, and mingled with his future colleagues in audit groups at AGO and its headquarters. Valuable insights gleaned from the AGO Exchange, which he has attended four times, left a lasting impression on Mr Soh. This internal sharing of audit experiences by various audit groups within AGO is held every July. He says: “I gained a deeper understanding of the techniques and challenges in public-sector auditing, as well as how the audits by AGO have helped to promote public accountability. “This is valuable knowledge beyond the university curriculum, which I would not have otherwise gained if it were not for this scholarship.” Mr Soh was also invited to participate in AGO’s scholarship talk in February 2016, where he helped to introduce AGO to students looking for suitable scholarships that align with their passion. He feels a sense of achievement from being able to contribute even before starting work. Although he only graduates next year, Mr Soh is already excited to be part of the AGO family. He says: “This is a dynamic profession that requires an enquiring and analytical mind, as well as a great deal of hands-on experience. “I look forward to gathering a myriad of skills as I carry out my auditing duties with different ministries and statutory boards. My seniors shared that the work is never boring, as every day brings new experiences and challenges.” Understanding the nature of the respective ministries’ operations within a short timespan before conducting the audit proper can be demanding. But he believes that being open-minded and willing to learn on the job will help him overcome these hurdles and make his assignments fulfilling and meaningful. Besides offering financial support to scholarship holders during their undergraduate studies, AGO also sponsors officers like Mr Soh for relevant professional certifications such as the Chartered Accountant of Singapore and Certified Fraud Examiner to enhance their knowledge.