It doesn't take long during a conversation with Ronald Yam FCPA to recognise his incredible vitality - living proof that volunteering boosts health and happiness.
By Katie Langmore
Despite managing a busy role as a partner at RSM Hong Kong, as well as being president of CPA Australia in the Greater China region, Ronald Yam FCPA volunteers with an eye-watering number of high-profile and worthy organisations. It is a workload that would exhaust many half his age.
“Sometimes, if the office is busy, such as tax time, I may work until 2am or 3am, trying to meet my commitments at work and the voluntary work,” explains Yam with a bright smile. “I bring my files home and work very late.”
Then there is the travel required by his many voluntary commitments, for which Yam would often use his annual leave. As chair of the Hong Kong Children’s Choir, for example, Yam tries to attend the annual concerts, performed around the world. As treasurer of the YMCA World Alliance, Yam also travels to Geneva, Switzerland, several times a year, for various executive committee meetings.
It helps, says Yam, to be passionate about the work one is doing. He doesn’t have a favourite among the organisations he supports, but deeply believes in what they all are trying to achieve.
The vision of the YMCA, for example – which works to bring social justice and peace to young people and their communities, regardless of religion, race, gender or culture – has inspired Yam to volunteer his time for the organisation for many years.
“Last year I was treasurer of all four levels of the YMCA – local, national, Asia-Pacific and World Alliance – because it is an organisation that I strongly believe in.”
Yam also sings the praises of the choir – the largest children’s choir in the world – and Habitat for Humanity, which supports the creation of affordable housing for families globally.
He has been honorary treasurer of Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong since 2005 and is very proud of the work the organisation achieves, including building 1800 houses and a school in China in the wake of two earthquakes.
With so many books to balance and events to oversee, it is not a big stretch to imagine 5000 choir children being sent to a YMCA camp by mistake, but Yam says, after working in finance for more than 40 years, he is well trained in managing different accounts.
“Thank goodness I haven’t mixed anything up in my voluntary work,” he laughs.
Yam’s decision to become an accountant was primarily to pursue the family trade. “I’m so proud to say that my father, my younger brother, my daughter and myself are all CPA members,” he says.
As is the case for so many CPAs, Yam quickly recognised just how profound a difference a skilled accountant can make through voluntary work. “All organisations need someone to manage their finances, and charities particularly need help with this – every cent counts,” he says.
About Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is an international housing not-for-profit, which originated in the US in 1976. The organisation now works in more than 70 countries and has helped more than 35 million people access safe housing, along with water, sanitation, hygiene and livelihood training.