Since November 2021, Michael Goh has been the Senior Accountant for Sovereign Management Services in Singapore. Degree qualified, we assumed that our discussion would focus on spreadsheets and other financial instruments. We did cover his role at work but spent most of the time learning of his wider background that makes him such a fascinating subject for this latest Sovereign Story.
Thirty-something Michael is Singaporean and joined Sovereign after three years at Grant Thornton. Hang on Michael, that only makes five years in total. What else have you been doing? The answer is somewhat surprising so let us go back to beginning of his story.
Michael explained that he followed the “normal high quality” Singaporean education system attending primary and secondary schools. He went on to study a Diploma in Sport and Wellness Management at Nanyang Polytechnic. The Singapore Sports Council awarded him their Silver Medal due to his success on the course.
Working in sport would have been a natural route but the army beckoned. Michael’s history is grounded in military service. There is conscription for all Singaporeans but he stayed on and served in the regular army for four years.
Michael explained that compulsory military service for all means that people with very mixed abilities must be included. Jobs undertaken therefore depend on a number of factors including physical ability, discipline and teamwork. Having excelled Michael was selected after basic military training – where he finished in the top 10% of that year’s intake – and joined the Officer Cadet School.
Exploiting his fitness, leadership and interpersonal skills, Michael participated in a 38 week course that he described as “hell but memorable”. Training included a nine-day Jungle Confidence course where cadets were provided with only two days food rations. An emergency radio, weighing 10kg, formed part of the survival kit. During his time in the jungle, he had to complete a number of missions including navigation and survival tests, setting traps, and catching quail for food.
Following the successful completion of this training, he became an infantry officer. Over the next three years, he was responsible for the training, morale and discipline of several new cohorts of officer cadets. He describes life lessons learned during this period as standing him in very good stead for whatever the future holds for him. He spent most of his army life in Singapore although he also served abroad in Brunei and Taiwan.
Michael’s military life continues to this day. After his four years’ service, he became a reservist. He is obliged to serve two-three weeks annually until he is forty. This means postings in the infantry divisions where he is also involved in helicopter operations.
Leaving the army full time in mid-2014, Michael went back to his love of sports management joining Special Olympics Singapore as a Sports Development Officer. He was responsible for promoting and providing sports training for adults with intellectual disabilities. The work included organising athletic competitions in various Olympic sports.
We asked him about his motivation to undertake this truly worthy endeavour. We thought perhaps that he became involved through helping a disabled friend or family member. He replied that he merely “wanted to do something more meaningful helping others”. As if four years military service is not meaningful enough!
Now in his mid-twenties, he decided to pursue a full-time career in finance and went back to his studies. He graduated with an Accountancy Bachelor’s degree – with Honours – from Nanyang Business School. He is continuing his studies pursuing a Chartered Accountant qualification with ICAEW.
Michael joined Grant Thornton in 2018 and spent three years auditing clients’ businesses. During his time there, he came to know Sovereign and was attracted by the global network and wide range of services offered. Looking out for the right role, he joined the group in late 2021.
Michael’s main responsibility at Sovereign is to review and respond to clients’ accounting needs including compliance with the regulations. Prompt client account filing forms a vital part of the job. He explains that most of his work is client focused but that he also gets involved with Sovereign’s in-house needs as required. He looks forward to visiting other Sovereign offices in the future.
Outside work, Michael’s fiancée Nicole is also Singaporean. Meeting at university, they are planning their wedding in 2024. Mahjong is a popular pursuit locally and they are passionate enthusiasts joining friends to play very regularly. Michael continues to play football (although is currently injured), pool and bowling.
It was a real pleasure getting to know Michael for this Sovereign Story. A passionate individual seeking to excel in everything he does, we were delighted to learn more about him. Thank you for your continuing military service and your time. We wish you the best of luck in your future Sovereign career.