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Willy Tai

1IIA Singapore Student Member and third year student,
SMU School of Accountancy specializing in Audit and Risk Management
Pursuing IA as a Future Career
A soon-to-be-CIA, Willy Tai aspires to be an Internal Auditor when he graduates in 2015. He is certainly well-poised for a future career in that direction; not only is he specialising in Audit and Risk Management, he is also the current President of the SMU Assurance and Advisory Team, the student body which provides financial and operational auditing services to SMU student clubs.
IA - A fast track to senior management 
His interest in internal auditing and risk management began when he was in Year Two. He took an Internal Audit elective which had been co-developed by SMU and IIA Singapore, featuring guest lecturers who were member of The IIA and leading practitioners in the profession. It was then that he realized how crucial a role Internal Audit played in organisations.
“I felt that IA would fast-track the exposure I needed if I were to become the CEO of a company one day. I find the work of an Internal Auditor fascinating. They provide independent assurance to the Board, while providing relevant and insightful recommendations to the organisation to help improve operations. You need a unique mixture of skills and competencies to do a great job”, he says.
Doing the CIA as a Student
Willy first heard about The IIA in 2013. He became a student member in 2014. He then registered to take Level 1 of the CIA and passed at the first attempt.
Willy said the decision to do his CIA was a simple one. “To differentiate oneself among the rest, a basic degree is not sufficient. Professional certification, among many other value-adding activities, will help a fresh graduate stand out and thereby clinch his/her first job.” He adds, “I also wanted to do the CIA as the topics coincide with my Accountancy degree and my future career interest in Internal Audit”.
What impact has being a member of The IIA had on you personally and professionally?
As a student member, The IIA website is a useful platform to find internships as well as course supplementary materials pertaining to Risk Management and compliance. I used the member resources as an additional source of information when I was preparing for my assignments and exams. I also login frequently to read the Ia Magazine.”
As a student taking the CIA exam, I also got a 30% discount off the examination fees that professionals pay. It made sense to do the exam now. The various CIA study guides that IIA Singapore had in their library also help me to save cost by cutting down on learning materials that I need to buy.
What study material did you use to prepare for the CIA?
I used the textbook “Internal Auditing: Assurance & Advisory Services, Third Edition” by Reding et al. I also referred to the Gleim CIA Part 1 practice book and the online question bank to prepare for the exam. In total, I spent about 40 hours to prepare for the exam.
“I think that doing the CIA as a student has advantages. I have more time to study for exams for sure,” he smiles. “But seriously, the knowledge I get reinforces my school work with real-life work examples. I feel that I gained some maturity and insight as I delved into the materials and did the exam questions,” he adds.
He says, “With the joint development of the Internal Audit elective by IIA Singapore and SMU, as well as the active advocacy of Internal Audit by IIA Singapore in various tertiary institutions here, I’m seeing an increasing number of my fellow peers taking up the first steps of being CIA certified by taking the exam.”
He believes that the CIA certification is attainable for a student without industry knowledge. He assures students out there that, “With diligence in practice, a possible internship exposure and a strong interest in Internal Audit, I believe that you can definitely do it.
He also adds some words of wisdom for students out there, “Don’t idle your time away during university. Start your career planning early and take the necessary steps to position yourself for that dream job.”
Willy Tai hails from SMU and is currently doing an IA internship at RSM Ethos. As a diligent and active young adult, he keeps himself busy outside of work by being a teaching assistant at the university, and also giving more than 10 tuition classes a week to younger students.