My Boss and Me: Shinewing Australia's Bessie Zhang FCPA and Neville Lin CPA

Bessie Zhang FCPA and Neville Lin CPA of Shinewing Australia. Photo: Anthony Geernaert.

Bessie Zhang FCPA and Neville Lin CPA of ShinewingAustralia use their personalities and skill sets to meet the demands of challenging clients, while working well together.

Bessie Zhang FCPA

Partner, assurance and advisory service, Shinewing Australia

When I heard there was someone bilingual with Australian and Chinese working experience who had also worked at KPMG, I was really keen to meet Neville. We had a discussion over the phone and I mentioned I needed to apply for the Registered Company Auditor (RCA) licence.

In the first meeting, Neville brought me a set of documents tagged and highlighted with all the key points I needed to know on how to apply for the RCA. That impressed me a lot. He’s really polite and my first impression was that he was a little shy, but really considerate.

Many years ago, when I learned how to interview people, one thing the trainer said was, think about if you would like to travel with this person on a business trip. That will give you confidence about whether you want to hire them.

It’s easy to travel with Neville. We travel a lot together because many of our big clients are not in Australia. We can talk about family, kids and work-related stuff, and we can work together. I review his work and monitor how he coaches the team.

He doesn’t really like to sit together on the plane. One time when we checked in, I asked “Do you want to change the seat to sit together?” He said “That’s fine.” Then I knew he didn’t prefer to sit together. That’s OK.

When he was a new dad, he travelled around the world. I really appreciated that. He went to Namibia, Papua New Guinea and China when his baby was just one and a half months. I did tell him, “Just make sure you are OK and you arranged everything at home.” He got his parents helping out and he said, “It’s fine.”

The key things I taught him would be accounting and auditing technical knowledge. I would say [he’s taught me] patience maybe, because our personalities are really different. I am patient, but I’m not as patient as Neville.

Auditing is a high-pressure job. It’s highly regulated. It can be tricky sometimes because the clients can be really challenging. Some of our clients are Chinese and they don’t really understand the regulations in Australia. We spend a lot of time educating them, but at the same time we need to deliver high-quality work.

Neville is not as shy as my first impression of him. I find him visionary. Our vision for the firm is to help Chinese businesses invest in Australia and Australian businesses invest in China – and open doors to create opportunities for our clients. I like to discuss these kinds of deep topics with him more and more.

What Bessie would change about Neville:

“I would like to make him more confident. Maybe it will happen over time, but I will try to convince him to speak more publicly and talk more, rather than writing an email.”

CPA Australia resource: CPA Australia’s mentor/mentee program. Access now.

Neville Lin CPA

Audit manager, Shinewing Australia

My first impression of Bessie was that she’s a warm person, professional and easy-going. I checked her LinkedIn profile and it looked like we had both worked at KPMG China before, but in a different office. I was working in the south of China and she was in Beijing.

I gained an RCA licence a long time ago and knew the process. When she said she wanted to apply for this licence, I brought the documents from the website. I naturally wanted to share my experience – not to impress.

I wouldn’t say I’m an outgoing person. I’m not saying I’m a quiet person, but maybe I’m not that outgoing, not compared with her. Initially I thought she might be a tough boss, but after working together I found that’s not the case. She’s really supportive. During the busy season, if I want to ask her a question, I can call or email after working hours and she replies quickly.

I look after the majority of her clients and I’m also responsible for all the auditing. I look over all the detailed stuff. She trusts me.

She has very strong accounting and auditing skills, so I’ve learned a lot from her. Also, she’s really good at interpersonal skills and at handling difficult clients. Sometimes when they’re not happy, we need to make them happy. A lot of the time we’re under pressure.

I used to overthink things sometimes. If I want to step up to a leadership position, a leader needs to make decisions quickly; they don’t have time to overthink. This is one of the things I’ve learned from Bessie: you need to make decisions based on what you have, quickly.

Last year, we travelled to China, PNG and Namibia. We don’t just work hard; we also play hard. On weekends in Namibia we went out for one-day tours. That was amazing. I learned about wine tasting from her: what’s the best combination with different food, like a Shiraz with beef. I enjoy learning different things from her.

What Neville would change about Bessie:

“Her kid is at primary school and needs lots of attention, so I wish she would have better work-life balance, more time with her family. If I can step up to take on more responsibility, that would be nice.”

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November 2019
November 2019

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