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Dodgeball taught me the discipline to pass my ACA

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 31 Jul 2020

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ICAEW Chartered Accountant Wee Sheng Teh is a financial analyst at Royal Bank of Canada in Malaysia. He speaks of his experience juggling more than just studies.

Financial analyst by day, dodgeball world champion by night. Wee Sheng, ICAEW Chartered Accountant and capital markets specialist for the Royal Bank of Canada, knows all about the value of hard work and dedication.

Wee Sheng decided to join ICAEW and enrol on the ACA straight after leaving high school rather than going to university. He was inspired by his older brother, who is also a chartered accountant. As it turned out, Wee Sheng, born and raised in Malaysia, was one of the youngest people in his home country to take the course.

“The course was relatively new, and so we were a very young cohort. It turned out I was a year or two quicker than my peers into the world of work as many of them went the degree route, and that typically takes four to five years,” he said. “They were studying, I was working. I got an internship with Deloitte Malaysia when I was 19, and started full-time at 20. I didn’t go through a typical university life with summer breaks and everything else. Time flew by, it was like a race.”

While his friends were out partying and playing, however, he found the best way to take his mind off the books was to spend his evenings training to take up what was a relatively new sport in the country at the time.

“I got into dodgeball after high school, and within two years I was in the national team,” he said. “It meant I had to keep up with both ACA studies and training, which was incredibly tough.” 

Although very different pursuits, he said they share one thing: discipline.

“You need to be really disciplined,” he said. “I train too, so I always want to put 100% in. Whether studying or training, you simply have to be rigorous with both. When you’ve got your head in the books you have to think of nothing other than the exams. Equally, when I was training, the ACA was the last thing on my mind. There has to be a balance.” 

He put everything into the 9-to-5, and then headed to the exercise track in the evenings, knowing that at some point, students have to switch off.

“Don’t study too much, because it will take up a lot of brain space and make you feel lethargic,” he said. “I studied during the day, trained in the evening, and that was a good balance. I always keep myself focused on the goal. If you truly want to achieve something, you will find a way.”

From rank outsiders, Wee Sheng’s Malaysia team of underdogs became gold medallists. They are now two-time world champions, and currently lead the male rankings. The sport has taken Wee Sheng to every corner of the globe, and since his first tournament in Las Vegas in 2015, he has travelled to Melbourne, Toronto, Los Angeles and Cancun. This year’s event in Glasgow was cancelled due to COVID-19, but he has his sights set on a first visit to the UK next year.

“I play on the wing, where you need agility and reflex speed; you need to read the recoil time of your opponent when they throw, and find blind spots”

After four and a half years at Deloitte, Wee Sheng moved to Royal Bank of Canada to become a financial analyst, where he works in capital markets with the Malaysian finance team serving the Pacific region. 

He loves the job, and the people, and said students worrying about their future have to keep their eyes on the prize at the end.

“The most satisfying aspect was the day I received my results, and the feeling that the hard work has paid off,” he said. 

“The hardest part was definitely the studying and having to balance everything. I didn’t really socialise. Sometimes you will get tired from studying too much, from training too hard, so relax, it’s all going to be worth it in the end. It will be three to four years of your life, and you get to enjoy the rest of your life after that!”