For the past 2 months, I've become much more focus on the Abu Dhabi project and haven't been able to spend as much time on the Islamic Finance side of work as well as my other "ECA" duties such as my role in the green committee and the library. In any case, the Abu Dhabi project has really been an eye-opener for me. My role as the guy doing the financial modeling gives me the legitimate right to "kepo" or get myself involved into almost every aspect of the project that would have a impact on the numbers (or in other words, pretty much everything). I now have a much better feel of the local market conditions, the typical development design process, the issues that are unique to a big integrated development, the intricacy with working with the partner in a joint venture setting, the importance of a thorough due diligence process and a strong contractual relationship, the accounting rules applicable to a real estate developer, the role of banks in mortgage services as well as project financing etc.
The fact that the business unit started out much like a start-up also allowed me more room to "hop around" the various functions and assume a wider spectrum of responsibilities than would have been the case if I were to start out in a much more established corporate setting. While I'd regret missing out the opportunity to see through the project to its first sale (which really is the true test of all the assumptions that I've used in the model), I do look forward to my next posting where I hope to gain exposure in a more corporate setting, where the focus is no longer on delivering on a specific project but the essential support functions that need to be put in place that keep the whole company going. That should be another fulfilling learning experience.
Meanwhile, my immediate concern for the next week is to do well for my CFA level I. I must thank Wenzheng for making me take the exam with him as the coursework really solidify the bits and pieces that I picked up from various finance-related books. It has been most helpful in making me more confident when working on the financial model as well as justifying the assumptions. But the exam won't be an easy one; I certainly hope that my initial investment of almost S$1k will not require any new funding after this first attempt!