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People: Mutya Maraginot

Dreaming big, achieving even bigger

It is not often you hear someone wax poetic about a love for numbers. But for Mutya Maraginot, it is par for the course. From discussing her fascination with computations to talking about her work as a certified public accountant (CPA), it is apparent that, more than just a keen understanding of the numerical world, Mutya has a passion for it.

The Misamis Occidental native’s affinity to numbers was influenced early on by her dad. Also a CPA who worked for the municipal government, Mutya’s dad impressed upon her the discipline that comes with the practice of accounting. It also helped that Mutya was a natural at math.

"I always saw myself doing computations and working with numbers,” says Mutya, who passed on school spelling bees to join math competitions, and win.

Not surprisingly, Mutya followed in her dad’s tracks and majored in accountancy at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV) in Iloilo. Although she briefly considered quitting and shifting to a pre-med course, she managed to see her course through, graduating cum laude, and bagging several accounting quiz trophies and medals along the way.

Deep into the review season for the 2003 national CPA licensure examinations, the same drive that fueled her many undergraduate achievements kicked in. “I thought to myself, why settle for just passing the exams? It was then that I promised myself that I would study as hard as possible to get a decent enough score in the board exams,” said Mutya.

“Decent” turned out to be a huge understatement. In November 2003, she obtained the highest overall rating among thousands of examinees nationwide and became the first UPV graduate to top the CPA board exams.

What followed was a whirlwind of offers from the major local accounting firms, as Mutya became a top pick among the latest batch of new CPAs. “I had the opportunity to visit the different auditing firms,” she recalls, “but when I visited Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A), I noticed that the environment was very welcoming. The people were very warm and I liked that.”

That sealed the deal for Mutya, who was soon working at P&A as an audit junior. Because she passed the board exams in November, which is the calm before the storm for auditing firms, Mutya’s introduction to her professional career was by way of her first busy season -- a five-month stretch of long work hours, tight deadlines, and several clients all anxious to make the schedule for the filing of tax returns. But Mutya wasn’t fazed. “I’d like to think of myself as someone who’s ready for anything and who’s eager to face responsibilities head-on.”

She survived her rite of passage and went on to weather two more busy seasons. In 2005, when she was promoted to audit in-charge, she found herself facing heavier responsibilities: supervising fieldwork and reviewing the output of audit juniors; meeting with midlevel client executives; and presenting reports to audit managers.

As engagement in-charge, she was given her own team of CPAs that she had to guide and train. “I had to make sure we all met our deadlines, and I was on the frontline when dealing with demanding clients. It wasn’t easy, especially during the busy season when emotions were running high because of sleepless nights and heavy workloads,” she admits.

Mutya recounts, “My role as engagement in-charge was vastly different from my previous role as audit junior. And to think this change happened in less than two years. It confirmed what I had hoped for when I chose the field of public accounting: that growth like this can only happen this quickly in public accounting, especially in a young firm like P&A.”

For Mutya, what she has learned from being a first-year audit in-charge has definitely been worth all the stress. Balancing technical requirements—made more difficult by newly-adopted international accounting standards—and supervising people for the first time gave her an exciting educational experience that she said she could have gotten only from external audit work.

“In the three years I’ve been with P&A, I’ve dealt with people from all walks of life, and that has helped make me a better professional,” says Mutya. In her present assignment, she also gets to “teach” junior auditors a thing or two. “I emphasize to them the importance of discipline and respect and passion for the work. If you’re passionate about your job, you can excel in it.”

Judging by her excellent performance at P&A, she certainly seems to have a genuine passion for what she does.

(As published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 23 July 2006)