Date posted: 25/10/2017 4 min read

Serjit Singh CA on life as a tax lead in Kuala Lumpur

Serjit Singh CA is the tax lead for four Asian countries with Royal Dutch Shell in Malaysia and says no two days are ever the same.

In Brief

  • His 11 years with Shell have exposed Singh to almost every area of the oil and gas industry.
  • Maintaining focus is a challenge across four countries, so delegating and priority-setting is important.
  • He feels like a partner to Shell and feels great doing a job he loves.

(Pictured: Serjit Singh CA)

What is your current position?

I am based in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. My current position is tax lead for Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan with Royal Dutch Shell. 

How did you find yourself there?

My career started with a Big 4 firm. I then worked for Inland Revenue (IRD) in New Zealand for a while, after which I went back to the Big 4. I then got married, and as a couple we decided we wanted a change and to be closer to our families. That brought me back to Malaysia.

I initially landed a job with Shell in Borneo. It was a fantastic experience, both in location and quality of life. Later I moved to Kuala Lumpur. It is now 11 years and counting into my career with Shell.

What does a typical day look like?

No day is ever the same in my role. I switch hats between the various businesses in Shell, different topics requiring attention, and the countries that I am responsible for. 

My day can include a wide mix of activities. For example, providing advice for an exploration venture, reviewing a lubricant marketing agreement or looking at ways to optimise a “to-market” strategy for LNG. Any given day could also involve dealing with a VAT audit issue, meeting with my team, meetings with the leadership team, working on people development, talking with external lobby groups and other diverse challenges that need to be addressed. 

I have found in my 11 years with Shell, with roles that have grown over the years, that there is never a dull moment. It’s important to make the best of opportunities that come your way.

What do you like most and least?

There are very few roles in corporates where one gets to see the full spectrum of businesses and activities. However, I can say in my position, I get involved in almost everything, from new business to commercial contracts, to day-to-day operations and end-of-business considerations. 

The position with Shell has exposed me to almost every area of the oil and gas industry and I feel very much more than just a tax advisor. I feel like a partner to the business, one that helps drive, create and protect value. 

At times, given the many countries and issues that can crop up, maintaining focus can be a challenge and this is where prioritisation, empowerment and delegation come into play.

When you chose accountancy, where did you expect to end up?

At first, I thought my career might be confined to consulting firms. That was, until I saw what the International Relocation could offer me, and how interesting and complicated tax work in corporates could get. 

Today, I see so many possibilities in my role as a CA and the various opportunities that have arisen as a result of exploring jobs in different sectors. I have finally found my ground where I can create the most value, and feel great doing a job that I love. 

I wake up every morning eager to see what the day holds for me, and when I lose that feeling I know it will be time to move on.

Would you recommend an overseas posting?

If the situation permits, please grab it. An overseas experience, especially in this part of the world, where growth is rapid, is a real eye-opener. The world today is borderless. Don’t constrain yourself. Seek out personal growth and opportunities, wherever they may be.

Related: Simon Hanna CA lands a great role in Mexico 

Simon Hanna CA is acting CFO, FIBRA Macquarie México, at the Mexico City office of Macquarie Group. He speaks candidly to Acuity about the benefits of his chartered accountancy background.