What's it really like to study a Master of Commerce at UQ?
Published 8 Apr, 2022 · 4-minute read
There is so much more to working in commerce than spreadsheets and numbers.
Vecenlia Wang is a UQ alumnus who used the Master of Commerce (Advanced) to launch her dream career in accounting and finance. She now works as a forensic accountant.
We talked to Vecenlia about how studying at UQ gave her the industry and life experience necessary to build her career.
The connections I have made with students, lecturers and industry have been very rewarding.
Master of Commerce (Advanced)
Why did you decide to study the Master of Commerce (Advanced) at UQ, and how did you choose your major?
I was initially drawn to UQ as I knew they had a top-ranking Business School as well as excellent reviews from students and alumni who studied there.
I had always wanted to become an accounting and finance professional. However, during my studies I found my career aspirations changed from working in a commercial setting to public practice. I chose the applied finance and professional accounting specialisations as they were my two primary areas of interest, and I knew they went together well. I also knew they were fields I could use in all aspects of the business world.
What did you enjoy most about studying a Master of Commerce (Advanced)?
It was great to learn from top-level lecturers who:
understood how to engage with students
were able to deliver complicated content in an easy-to-digest way
were enthusiastic about what they were teaching
were always willing to provide assistance if needed.
"Our lecturers had experience with real industry cases. This meant that, rather than just learning theory, we could tackle actual business cases."
What were the learning experience and extracurricular opportunities like at UQ?
I am the “on campus student", waiting outside for the library to open, and staying there until late. I truly enjoy the academic environment and the connections I have made with students, lecturers and industry have been very rewarding.
I spent time on campus not only for study but also to get involved with extracurricular activities. I was the secretary of UQ Business School Postgraduate Association (UQ BSPA) for around 2 years. This opportunity not only allowed me to increase my interpersonal skills such as communication, organisation, and conflict management, but I also made lifelong friends.
Can you tell us about your career since graduating from UQ’s Master of Commerce?
I have now been in the industry for 6 years since graduating in 2016. In that time, I worked as a business and tax advisor, commencing as a graduate, then progressed to a mid-tier senior accountant.
I continued my career journey as a forensic accountant in personal injury claims, assessing economic losses for individuals in different types of cases. My main duties in this role were to prepare financial models of economic loss entitlements and justification of these models, apply basic research skills and remain up to date with legislation, common law and industry work practices. I also participated at court proceedings in some cases at Supreme and District Courts in Queensland.
My career has now changed to working as a forensic accountant in the insurance industry, at a Global Claim Management Corporation (New York Stock Exchange Listed). This is a huge change, but the learnings I take away each day are so beneficial for my career. I’m not just in front of a computer managing financial data; I get to perform site visits and meet our stakeholders in person. The management of stakeholders’ expectations, and sometimes disagreements, is a new challenge for me but a value-add to my professional profile.
"I’m thankful for my extracurricular experiences while studying, which allowed me to develop the communications skills that I use in this role every day."
Did COVID-19 have a large impact on you, your industry, and your organisation? How did you manage this disruption?
I was fortunate in that the accounting industry witnessed a growth due to the pandemic. Our workload was heavier than before, especially with the “economic assistance package” announced by the government, which included cash boosts, small business grants, small business instant asset write-offs, and Job Keeper. These projects were all in addition to our normal “End of Financial Year” due dates, but I saw them as a positive disruption and a learning opportunity. COVID-19 and other unprecedented events did however impact the insurance industry, which I have been privy to in my current role.
The industry will continue to change. Therefore, we should never cease learning. This is why I undertook the Master of Commerce (Advanced), which gave me the confidence to transition my career from a senior business advisor to a forensic accountant.
What does the future look like for you, and do you have any advice for those wanting to enter the industry?
I think my future is promising if I continue to use the skills learned in my degree and further developed during my years in the workforce. This experience will prepare me to face the disruption in my industry and the post-COVID world.
"My advice for graduates or emerging commerce professionals is to equip themselves with the 'change' mindset and don’t let fear or the cost of embracing opportunities get in your way."
Do you want to sharpen your management skills and build specialist knowledge in finance, accounting, and information systems? Read more about how a UQ Master of Commerce can push your career boundaries further than before.