TITLE: Speech by Dr Nurmazilah Dato’ Mahzan, Chief Executive Officer, Malaysian Institute of Accountants at 17th National Intervarsity Accounting Quiz (Organised by Multimedia University)

DATE: 21/04/2018






17th NATIONAL INTERVARSITY ACCOUNTING QUIZ (Organised by Multimedia University)



  • YBhg Dr Mohd Rizal Abdul Razak, Campus Director, Multimedia University
  • Yang Berusaha Dr Abdullah Sallehhudin Abdullah Salim, Director, Students Affairs Division, Multimedia University
  • Yang Berusaha Dr Mohd Nazri Mohd Noor, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Business, Multimedia University
  • Yang Berusaha Dr Tan Pei Kian, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Business, Multimedia University
  • Ms Leong Khai Qi, Event Director, 17th National Intervarsity Quiz
  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • Students and Future Accountants

Good Afternoon!

I am so pleased to be a part of N-IVAQ 2018. I am always excited to be with young people because I am energised by your youth, idealism, and enthusiasm.

I am also delighted that over 250 of you made your way here on a Saturday, when it is very tempting to sleep in.

Today, I am representing the Malaysian Institute of Accountants or MIA, which regulates the accountancy profession in Malaysia. We have more than 34,000 members at present, and I hope that all of you will join MIA after graduating. MIA’s target is to expand the number of accountancy professionals in the country to 60,000 by 2020, in order to support economic growth and national development. By helping us achieve this number, you will play a very important role in ensuring the country’s continued success.

My dear students and future accountants,

Today’s theme of “Put Us to The Test, In Accounting We Are the Best” is very timely. One of the most important messages that I want to share today is that the profession and all accountants are being tested. We are under intense pressure because we are being disrupted by technology and digitalisation. Media such as the Economist and Forbes are speculating that automation will wipe out accountants. We must ask ourselves then, how can we be more relevant? What value can we deliver in this fast-changing economy?

Since we are in such a state of flux, what you know today will eventually expire. So, to be a successful accountancy professional, just earning your degree or professional certification is no longer enough. You must keep on unlearning and relearning, and nurture a mindset of continuous learning. Your university degree is just a passport to your first job. Once you enter the working world, other opportunities and challenges will emerge. Therefore, you must acquire and polish problem-solving skills and survival skills in order to harness these opportunities and find solutions to overcome these challenges.

How will you know whether you are future ready, and ready for the workforce? MIA research and our engagement with employers have found that employers are looking for these four main skills and aptitudes – technological skills, communications and soft skills, critical thinking, strategic and analytical skills, and the ability to change.

Allow me to elaborate. With regards to technological skill sets, you are not required to be a data scientist but you have to be aware of the latest trends of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 such as Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. You must be familiar, at the very least, with the terminologies and the usage of software application such as Microsoft Excel, Word and Power Point. These are key tools required to match the pace of the growing demand in relation to data interpretation and output. At the same time, you must be technologically aware and continually upgrading your tech skills, because you will be at the forefront of the accountancy profession, which even now is figuring out to leverage on AI, machine learning, blockchain, big data, analytics, robotics, and cloud to improve performance and deliver more value.

With regards to communication and soft skills, employers are looking for graduates who are able to present their thoughts convincingly and logically, and converse fluently in English. From the accounting perspective, this is crucial because the international accounting standards are principles-based in nature. A good command of English is necessary to interpret the accounting standards correctly and communicate these effectively to your users and stakeholders.

You must also start to develop and hone your critical thinking, strategic and analytical skills. The market today is data-driven, such that users now increasingly demand rich data-backed analysis and actionable insights to facilitate informed decision making. Accountants are no longer just preparing double entries and historical financial reports. You are required to interpret financial and business data and provide insights and guidance. As such, you are the key person to advise and lead the organisation.

Last but certainly not least is the ability to embrace change. We must be agile enough to adapt to the technological and regulatory changes. Don’t make the mistake of viewing accountancy as a rigid profession. Gone are the days of manual double entry. In this era of digital disruption, we need to adopt the mindset of continuous change and innovation, and be ever ready to support business transformation.

I hope that once you graduate, you will join MIA, and benefit from our specially tailored courses. MIA is currently one of the leading training providers of professional development courses in Malaysia. We are always refining our programmes to help you become future-proof and globally competitive.

While it is scary to be told that accountants might risk obsolescence if they don’t transform, all of you here today – members of Generation Z –actually enjoy a superior advantage in the digital economy, because tech is second nature to you, like breathing and eating. If you acquire these core soft skills I mentioned earlier, you will be well-equipped for the unfolding 4th Industrial Revolution, where tech will be even more integrated into the workforce, industry and society.

Before I end, I would like to thank the universities and academicians for collaborating together with MIA on this year’s N-IVAQ, which has been going strong for over a decade. MIA places great emphasis on enhancing the quality of the profession by reaching out to students and academics. We hope today’s event will help all participants to improve their knowledge of accounting and to practise core soft skills such as networking.

I would also like to leave you with a couple of inspirational quotes. Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook once said: “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on.” So, do embrace the unknown, become more comfortable and adept with technology, and leverage the opportunities unfolding in the digital economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Meanwhile, Albert Einstein said “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” This is MIA’s message to all our members and accountants today - if you strive to be of value to others, success will come. As accountancy professionals, we must strive to deliver value and to be the moral conscience of our organisations. As accountants, we are in a position of great responsibility, because we are entrusted with financial management and oversight. Therefore, we must always practice good ethics and sound moral behaviour, be honest and uphold integrity to defend the public interest and heighten public trust.

And now without further ado, I wish you the best in the National Intervarsity Accounting Quiz and may the best team win.

Thank you.