After realising he wanted a client-facing career, financial controller Ferdinand Kuncoro CPA switched from IT consulting to finance and accounting.
By Jessica Mudditt
Ferdinand Kuncoro CPA’s passion for finance began with the family business. His parents had an entrepreneurial spirit and had set up a logistics and transportation company in the port city of Semarang in Central Java, Indonesia.
“I saw them working hard, day and night, but they had started the business without proper accounting and finance knowledge. Because of that they struggled to make ends meet for the first 25 years.
“I thought to myself, I need to be good at this.”
Kuncoro’s elder brother joined the family business, but Kuncoro had other plans. His uncle was working for a large corporation and he resolved to emulate him.
He obtained a bachelor of computer science and a bachelor of applied science (statistics) in 2007 from Binus University in Jakarta. While studying, he began interning as a SAP FICO (financial accounting and controlling) consultant and went on to work part-time as a SAP FICO consultant.
Kuncoro’s desire to gain accounting skills prompted his move to Australia, where he obtained a master of commerce in accounting and applied finance (advanced) from the University of Queensland in 2009. He then turned his attention to the CPA Program.
“I did the CPA Program as soon as I was eligible.
It wasn’t really an option; I knew that if I was serious about having a career in finance and accounting, it was a must. Another part of the appeal was CPA Australia’s strong exposure to the APAC market, especially in ASEAN countries and China. I thought at some point I may want to spend a few years in Asia and I thought of the CPA Program as my passport.”
Kuncoro joined canmaker Morris McMahon in Sydney in 2011, and completed a SAP implementation there as a SAP project manager and configured the SAP FICO module. He remained there as commercial finance manager until 2016.
It was then that Kuncoro made his biggest career change to date.
“Although a career as a SAP consultant is highly rewarded, I felt more suited to working on the client side. That’s where I could see the results, as opposed to being a consultant where you move on once a project is finished.”
He says it wasn’t a complete U-turn. “I still see most things in finance and accounting from a process lens. When dealing with various stakeholders, I wear my consultant hat – listening, summarising and giving advice,” he says. “When in project mode as a finance lead, I can easily switch my mindset to being a project manager and see each part as a building block.”
In 2016, Kuncoro joined BE Campbell as finance manager (analysis and operations), and remained there for more than two years. In July last year he joined FMC Corporation in Sydney as financial controller and was quickly promoted to overseeing the entire Australia-New Zealand region. Given that FMC has an estimated global annual revenue of US$5 billion, Kuncoro has achieved his goal of working for a large multinational.
A challenge that comes with this is one that is increasingly familiar to today’s globalised workforce: having a team spread across many time zones.
“I can say I’m getting better, but the time lag can be quite frustrating because you have to wait until the following day to see things come through. Proper planning saves a lot of time. Before meetings, I create comprehensive checklists so that we know what’s needed,” Kuncoro says.
One piece of advice
“Gain project experience early. If there is an opportunity to get involved in a project, raise your hand. You will improve your communication skills and learn how to deal with different stakeholders and how to solve problems. This will make you stand out.”
CPA Library resource:
Career courage - discover your passion, step out of your comfort zone, and create the success you want (eBook). Read now.