Dubai

Travel

I finally made my trip to Dubai.

Dubai is built for rich people. The biggest shopping centre Dubai Mall – its gates are all in the car park, so the assumption is you have to have a car to go to the shopping centre. I can probably understand it because walking on the street in Dubai is horrible. There are no shades or grass anywhere. It is so hot to walk around and quite often on the sand directly.

I was lucky to stay at JW during my stay. There was a nice sports bar with big screens at the ground floor. I passed it the other day and saw live different football games on the wall and local people were drinking and chatting. The rich people’s life is nice no matter where they live.

It is a different experience to run in Dubai. They’ve built nice running track along the beach, but no one can run after 8 am during the day because of the heat. I tried to run a few times before the sunrise. It was actually pretty good.

The jetlag was always with me, so I followed Australian time. When the hotel provided the free breakfast, it was my dinner time, so I enjoyed the food a lot – especially after the run.

At one stage I think they should instal a huge aircon to cover the whole city to cool it down and stay away from the sand, but they didn’t, so Dubai is still dusty and hot. Anyway, Dubai is safe and modern, so I don’t mind coming back to visit again, but I don’t think I can live here for sure.

 

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Rating

Work

After the end of the financial year, the fun thing is the annual assessment from the firm. My last firm was really bad in it – the assessment done the year before was endless and finished almost in November. KPMG seems like quite deadline-oriented, so they did the assessment in July and the rating was released in August.

My rating in the last year was “effective” which is quite average. There were two higher ratings above me. The funniest moment was when I asked my colleague about his rating and he told me he got “inconsistent”, which was pretty much a fail, then both of us laughed hard.

Having a rating is cruel as it will differentiate employees with the same job title in salary, but it also provides a mean to self-assess the career goal. I definitely have no chance to be promoted in this year, then there is a choice for me between staying to be effective and starting to look for a job. I admire those people who stay in the same position for ages without promotion and pay rise, but working for a business and being recognised in the meantime should be a better career path.

I am in a good team with a variety of clients. Although my manager recently resigned, I can still learn quite a lot from another manager in quite a long time. Personally, I wish to give me another year to see if I could fit in the team a bit more. If I still get an effective next year, staying will not be an option for me.

Sydney Marathon

Sentiment

Yes, I registered Sydney marathon in the last minute at the early bird rate. I am sure I will not be ready for it on the day, but I will try my best.

3 years ago, a colleague went for the Sydney marathon and told me the experience was great, but I had already registered Melbourne marathon so I didn’t go to Sydney in that year. I totally said goodbye to the city of Melbourne after 4 marathons. Although I have changed my focus to triathlon this year, I just can’t resist doing another marathon.

The Sydney route looks complicated and there are no straight roads as in Melbourne route, but the view would be great, especially in the beginning when people cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge and in the end when people run to the Opera House.

I have 5 more weeks to prepare for it. My daily training should be enough for me to finish the run, but I just need to have a 3+ hours run at the weekend to make it easier. The third hour is going to be really painful and I might not have enough time to taper.

5 weeks is also a nice waiting time. I hope the sea water would be warm enough to swim after the marathon so that I can recover my swimming training by then.

CFA exam fail

Sentiment

Yes, I failed the level two exam. I think the CFA exam is really fair. Although the pass rate is low, the candidate will pass if you study. The past few months were crazy. I had to work longer hours to do many year end jobs, then no time is left for me to get assigned reading done. I skipped my morning exercise for almost two months for the exam, but that was not long enough for the preparation. I knew I would fail the exam on the exam day, but I still feel bad when I receive the email from the Institute.

Well, I had planned to stop my finance study in a year so I can move my focus to some area. This is based on an article about horizontal career development, so it is good for people to change the position then seek for development. However, I also think it is necessary to reach a level before changing horizontally. If I stay at the current advisor level and change now, my whole career will never rise. Nevertheless, life is not as perfect as the plan, so I need to be ready for my plan B. I will still look for an MBA programme starting from next year but will delay my 2018 CFA exam registration until September just in case I won’t have time to prepare it next year again.

I saw some posts from those who passed the exam in the forum: Finally nailed this bitch. I actually think the level 2 exam is indeed a bitch now and I want to nail it one day.

CA

Education

The Institute of Chartered Accountant Australia and New Zealand sent me an email last week and told me they had approved my membership application, so I am a CA now.

Three years ago when I started the programme, I was full of passion as it was a big thing. However when this designation was finished, everything looked quiet. The partner who signed off my reference did not say much and I was busy preparing my level two exam of the CFA. I guess I should just let it go.

Yesterday I have a coffee catch up with a partner. I’ve got all the qualification I need, also a good firm as a platform, so I guess it was a good timing to know what the next step is. My question was how to build a career. One of her points of the career building is it should not be restricted from 9 to 5 time wise, but assessed on deliveries to the clients. I can definitely see different meanings of it. No matter I like it or not I will follow her words and try to be promoted in KPMG.

So this is the last article about the CA thing. Good luck to myself Isaac Wang CA.

Barcelona

Travel

I went to Barcelona over Easter. It was a short visit with four nights, but I enjoyed it.

I stayed in a hotel in the city right next to Casa Batlló and it was close to everything. My first impression to the city was it was so organised. The city was old but the original design was so good. There was a small square in each junction; the buildings around were pushed back so the square was big enough to be used as a small car park. Pedestrian crossings were at the sides of the square and there were bins along with them. I was also surprised by how people behaved in the city; almost all residents followed the traffic rules. I took the bus only twice and the bus driver used indicators properly. Compared the UK, the US, Australia, Asian, this place was much more civilised. People were also friendly as well. Most residents were white, occasionally I could see some Latinos. The language of Catalan was softer than Spanish and didn’t sound that rude in my opinion, but I still want to learn Spanish one day  as I want to be tough.

I was in Madrid three years ago and I also have friends from Barcelona who claim Catalonia is an independent country. Now I know why.

Uber Driver

Lifestyle

Uber finally hit Illawarra.

I registered as a Uber driver on the day Uber was launched and they approved me this morning. I had three trips today. The fist one was from innovation campus to Wollongong station. It was an Indian student and it was not a pleasant one. He sat at the back seat and talked to someone on the phone all his trip. The second one was good and I went to a town I have never been before. The last one was at night after study and it was from North Wollongong station to innovation campus.

I’ve earned 23 dollars so far. I don’t really expect to earn a lot of money from Uber, but I think it is a good way to meet new people and to pass some positive attitude. Sharing economy is something no one can miss. I participated Couchsurfing for long, now it’s time to give Uber a go.

 

 

It’s good to pass.

Education

Last Friday, I passed the capstone module of the CA Programme, so I will apply for the membership soon. Yay.

This Wednesday, the CFA institute published the level 1 exam result. Surprisingly, I passed the exam too. Two exams were passed this week, no time is better than this.

The last few months were not easy. Both exams were in June and I had to start preparing in April. Every weekday till 2 am and every weekend – it was horrible. The capstone of the CA was relatively easy, but level 1 of the CFA exam was so hard. I studied those materials last year, but when I tried to put them all together for the preparation, I almost forgot everything. On the level 1 exam day, the morning session was okay but the afternoon session was much harder and felt like shit after the exam – I was almost sure I would fail the exam. When I clicked the email sent by the institute, I noticed it began with congratulations, it was such a relief.

The next is the level 2 of the CFA exam, I’ve started learning the materials. Everyone says level 2 is much more challenging, so I will have to just work harder. Yes.

Meditation

Lifestyle

 

As you know I started my swimming lessons – it went well. Last week my instructor give me a pair of flippers and told me to wear them in order to concentrate on my stoke practice. She even told me I could get them any time I want. I put them on and could swim like a torpedo but I thought these things were a bit like drugs and quite addictive, you know like having viagra for sex, so I decide not to use it when I practise until I take lessons again with her next week, just like following doctor’s instructions.

Another change for me is I started practising meditation, to be specific via headspace. I heard many people including Tim Ferriss had mentioned this type of thing in many occasions. Last month in the city a friends even told me he went to a class every weekend to do this type of meditation. I think it’s time for me to have a go. I downloaded this app a couple of weeks ago and tried it for 10 days, just 10 minutes after getting up – not bad. I did not feel any immediate impacts on me but I particularly liked the feeling when I was told not to control my mind and let it go. It was weird but very joyful and I also hope I will get more benefits in long term. I subscribed the service for a year last week and since then started practising it every day.

Wow, two new things in a month – swimming and medication. I hope I am not overwhelmed by the changes. I have adjusted my nap time a bit to accommodate my changes, which means I will have to sleep less but I will be fine. Oh boy, life is full of adventures.

Swimming Lessons

Sports

I don’t like work functions. I work in a small firm, so over working time, I have had enough social talks with colleagues. When it comes to work functions, I have nothing to talk to them any more.

I missed out dinners for the last two end of financial years, so when the HR manager walked to me and asked me if I could make it this year, I slowly said yes although I really really didn’t want to go – it was a Thursday and I had to go to the gym that day.

Anyway I went there. It was in a Thai restaurant; the only thing I could eat was spring rolls – they ordered too much meat.  I met this guy who was the partner of my colleague and he was the fitness instructor in the gym. We had a good conversation about how to make friends in a new town, how does bee work, and the upcoming election ect. Then it came to his specialty – fitness, I told him I had done marathon four times. He was not surprised but asked me why not do a triathlon.

This is an interesting question. I have been thinking about triathlon for ages but I have never made any efforts to get it started. I am relatively okay with running and cycling but very bad at swimming. In an ideal situation, it can take me three hours to finish 800 m of swimming, so my imagination of triathlon aways stops here.

On that evening, I thought I might be quite motivated. That guy’s encouragement reminded my early days in preparing my first marathon. It was hard and boring but not mission impossible. I might be a bit older now, but I could still try something new. So I told him I would start training for my first triathlon.

Following his suggestion, the next day I went to the pool and enrolled in an 16 weeks’ swimming lesson starting from this Saturday. It is never too late to do something crazy I guess.

This is the next question, I have a pair of budgie smugglers but I might need new swim trunks to cover myself a bit more. Not sure!