- A lot of people have dreams, but most don’t do anything about them
- The importance of having a work/life balance shouldn't be underestimated
- If you're thinking of a career change, follow your dreams, because if you want something enough, anything is possible.
Chew Eng Chye CA swapped audit and assurance with PwC for trickery and illusion as a professional magician. While he continues to work within the accounting profession as a consultant, in the following Q&A interview, Chye explains why magic is his passion and that people should not be afraid to follow their dreams.
How did you become interested in magic? Was it something you were a fan of when you were younger?
When I was about five years old, my father gave me a special set of magic cards which I would play around with. But when I was 15 years old, I saw David Copperfield on television and everything grew from there. Now I perform at corporate events all around the world and I’ve even appeared on [Australian] national television.
Do adults appreciate magic in the same way children do?
I think that adults actually appreciate magic more than children do. When I was younger, I enjoyed performing magic because it was fun. But now, I love performing magic because I can touch the hearts and minds of the people I perform for and bring back that sense of wonder they experienced as children. Seeing the smiles and looks of amazement on people’s faces makes it all worthwhile. I’m a little like Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up.
Was it hard to make the shift to magic from the relatively “safe” accounting profession? What advice do you have for accountants who are considering a shift to a new career?
When I worked at PwC, I was a manager in the assurance and business advisory services division and managed external audits. I then left PwC to focus on my passion for magic and illusion. But as a result of the constant offers of work from the corporate world, I still continued to consult as a chartered accountant. So I really had the best of both worlds.
I think that it’s also very important to have a work/life balance. Consulting as a chartered accountant and being able to follow my dream of being a magician and illusionist definitely gave me more of this. Although it did feel like I had two full-time jobs at the time.
But magic and illusion’s definitely my passion and I’ll always be a magician and illusionist but if a suitable role comes up that I think would be a good fit from an accounting or finance perspective I’ll always consider it of course. I really enjoyed my time at PwC and, to this day, I still maintain contacts there.
As for people who are considering a change in career, well, as we all know, a lot of people have dreams, but most don’t do anything about them. My recommendation would be for those people to follow their dreams because if you want something enough, anything’s possible.
Which magicians do you respect, and why?
Definitely David Copperfield whom I got the chance to meet when he was performing here in Perth in 1999. I love his stage persona and the theatricality that he brings to his performances.
What is the most difficult trick you perform? Is it also the most impressive for audiences, or do you challenge yourself sometimes?
One of the most difficult things to do in magic is to be able to perform with something that you borrow from an audience member. One of my favourite pieces of magic is to borrow an audience member’s $100 note and to magically change it into a $10 note, which always gets everyone laughing and having a great time.
A lot of people have dreams, but most don’t do anything about them.
Why do corporates choose a magician for their events – it seems an unusual option to choose in the business environment?
People who organise corporate events are always looking for unique entertainment. These event organisers therefore call on me to entertain their guests and clients at their corporate events such as cocktail parties and gala dinners because they like the way in which I present my magic and illusion.
I like to make my performances light-hearted and fun but presented in a refined and elegant manner – letting people experience what it was like when magicians and illusionists were celebrities of the highest order and adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to their events.
What advice to you have for youngsters interested in learning more about magic? Do you recommend it as a hobby, or even a career?
Interestingly, adults actually want to learn magic more than children do. Because of this, in addition to performing at corporate events, I also present corporate team building sessions where teams get a chance to work together in order to learn a brand new skill, to problem solve, to think creatively, to share ideas and to get to know each other a little better. The presentation is unique as it gets people to think like a magician and to look at things from a different perspective.For more information on Chew Eng Chye visit chewengchye.com.
This article was first published in the November 2014 issue of Acuity magazine.