Steve Chia

Steve Chia shares his stories about his career so far, and passes on advice that he would like to give to you!
Steve Chia
People Leader, Tax COO & Partner


PwC Malaysia


People Leader, Tax COO & Partner


ACCA, 1996

Professional association memberships

Fellow Member and Examiner for Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA); Council Member, Chartered Tax Institute of Malaysia (CTIM)

Has been with the company for

24 years and 4 months

What does motivation mean to you? How do you keep yourself motivated in challenging times?

To me, motivation is having the drive to achieve the desired outcome. It can be tough to always keep yourself motivated, especially in these trying times when many of us are still learning to work with each other virtually. 

I think having the right support system is important. Apart from my family, my team and peers at work are there to support me by exchanging ideas. This keeps me motivated to do what is best for the team to achieve our goals despite not being together physically.

Name three (3) ways a student or fresh grad can invest in themselves.

In my opinion, here are the three areas young graduates can focus on to invest in themselves:

  • Upskill yourself – Having foundational competence is no longer sufficient in this increasingly competitive world. To remain relevant moving forward, you need to improve both your digital and human skills, such as communication, agility, leadership and more. There will always be a need to exercise judgement and apply empathy in your jobs, which machines can’t replicate.
  • Expand your network – Build meaningful relationships with your peers as you progress together. Who knows, one day you will be able to leverage on each others’ network to grow your career.
  • Learn from a mentor or coach – Consult a mentor or coach at some point in your study or career - this can be a senior you look up to or an industry professional. They are there to share their life experiences, sometimes the hard truths, to steer you in the right direction. With that, learn as much as you can from them.

What are the qualities that separate leaders from managers?

In my mind, I will put the qualities into 2 buckets; foundational attributes which are a given as part of your role, and leveraged attributes that differentiate you from your peers and make you the leader among the rest.

I see the leveraged attributes to be:

  • Having an entrepreneurial mindset – Think like a business owner
  • Global acumen – The ability to see things from different perspectives that are beyond one’s sphere
  • Self-leadership – Have self-drive and the will to succeed. We need to lead ourselves well before we can lead others.

If you could turn back time, how would you improve yourself – personally or professionally?

I would start building my networks early in my career, or even during university time. Being an introvert, I rarely mix around to make new friends during my formative years in the industry. 

Later on, as I progressed through my career and reached higher positions, I realised I had to work extra hard to expand my network. 

In conclusion, you should start young and join activities and student bodies to mingle with more people outside your immediate circle.

What is the one habit that has continued to help you grow as a person?

I have a fixed routine that I follow religiously. After my morning workout, I would aim to complete urgent tasks first as I have more focus in the morning. By prioritising requests or deliverables that require more concentration, I get to finish my job more efficiently to spend time with my family. 

A tip that I have learnt over the years is that we are not born to multi-task, hence we must schedule and prioritise work for maximum efficiency. 

Name one surprising or interesting fact about yourself.

I believe many people started picking up new hobbies or learning new skills during the lockdown. I, too, have recently picked up cycling from my 12-year-old son. 

I believe learning is lifelong and that there is always something to learn from the people around you.