Marissa Lee Sher May (right) receiving her first runner-up trophy from Ernst & Young Deputy Global Vice-chair (Tax) Susan Pitter, who is also EY Young Tax Professional of the Year sponsor.

Malaysian representative for Ernst & Young (EY) Young Tax Professional of the Year 2017 Marissa Lee Sher May couldn’t contain her excitement when she was announced as the runner-up at the international-level finals held in Amsterdam recently.

Marissa, who competed against representatives from 21 countries, said she was thrilled and delighted to be named the first runner-up, although she earlier aimed to be the champion.

“It’s a dream come true and I am honoured to be able to fly the Malaysian flag high on an international stage.

“It all started when my lecturer suggested that I should try for the Young Tax Professional of the Year programme and be an ambassador so that I can come back to Sunway-TES and get more students to join.

“I took her suggestion and went for the briefing at Ernst & Young, where they showed me a video of previous years’ competitions, also held in Amsterdam.

“I was mesmerised by the beauty of Amsterdam and that was the main reason that drove me to participate. I love travelling and I saw it as an opportunity to travel,” said the former ACCA student at Sunway-TES, who graduated recently.

Marissa said the competition allowed her to meet new people and share knowledge with other participants from different countries.

“The international grand final was really an eye-opener as I get to meet and network with the top leaders in tax from EY Global during the five-day competition.

“The representatives from 21 countries convened to participate in technical workshops, case studies and interviews before a judging panel which included EY leaders, academics and tax directors from major multinational companies,” said the eldest of four siblings.

Marissa said the final presentation was nerve-wrecking as she had to present her findings for the case study alone.

“I took a risk and it was rewarding to know that it was appreciated.”

Being the first runner-up, Marissa will embark on a 10-day visit to one of EY’s Area Tax Centres, either in New York, London or Hong Kong, where she will have the opportunity to network with some of the world’s leading tax professionals.

EY Young Tax Professional of the Year is a global competition in which young and successful students, graduates and professionals are selected in countries across the world to participate and demonstrate their tax technical, professional and inclusive leadership skills.

Ernst & Young Tax Consultants Sdn Bhd partner Farah Rosley, who is also EY Young Tax Professional of the Year Malaysia programme director, said: “At EY, growing Malaysian talent is very important.

“Giving young talent the opportunity to excel and achieve outstanding performance at an international event, as what Marissa has done, is testament to the efforts of EY in growing tax talent.

“As tax functions continue to be disrupted and exciting new approaches to tax evolve, we hope Marissa, as well as other winners, will be motivated to go and become the future leaders of the tax profession.

“We are also deeply appreciative and proud of the collaboration with the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) in the Young Tax Professional of the Year Malaysia programme.”

Farah said Marissa’s outstanding achievement in the international competition demonstrated the capabilities of Malaysian students, who were able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their international peers in terms of talent, knowledge and skills.

“Despite stiff competition from her counterparts, Marissa impressed the judges with her ability to rise to the challenges, and her critical thinking and communication skills.

“We are extremely proud of Marissa as she has done very well for herself and Malaysia.

“We wish her all the best as she takes her first steps towards an exciting career in tax,” she added.

EY Young Tax Professional of the Year 2017 second runner-up Cecilia Zhou of Japan (left), first runner-up Marissa Lee of Malaysia (second from left), and champion Natalia Averina of Russia (right) with Ernst & Young Deputy Global Vice-chair (Tax) Susan Pitter.

LHDN corporate services director Rozina Shaik Osman Merican, said: “We are very pleased and proud of Marissa’s achievement at the EY Young Tax Professional of the Year 2017.

“This is indeed an excellent recognition and motivation for us, too, as we work together with the private sector towards building the capabilities of our future generation and preparing them to become leaders in their profession,” said Rozina.

“We look forward to continuing our efforts to inculcate tax knowledge in our youth and promote the tax profession as a career of choice for Malaysian students.”

LHDN is a supporter of the EY Young Tax Professional of the Year Malaysia programme since its inception in 2013.

Russia’s finalist, Natalia Averina, was named the EY Young Tax Professional of the Year 2017 and she will embark on a 30-day global tour of EY offices in London, New York and Hong Kong.

Cecilia Zhou of Japan emerged as the second runner-up, and she will be invited to participate in an EY international client conference, where she will have the opportunity to explore the most pertinent issues facing the global business community.

Daiyaan Edwards from South Africa was voted by his peers to receive the Dibout Inclusive Leadership Award for demonstrating exemplary leadership skills during the competition.

The EY Young Tax Professional of the Year was established by EY in 2010 to foster the next generation of tax leaders.

All competitors are selected in their home countries by EY in collaboration with local universities, and finalists hold their respective home country titles.

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