17 Mar 2021 20:49 IST

‘Need to reinvent CA curriculum to suit changing dynamics’

Be confident to take on leadership roles at every level, says Mani Capital Founder

Sudha Suresh is the Founder of Mani Capital, a financial services consulting firm. As a professional with three decades of experience in private and public companies, her areas of expertise include strategic planning, fiscal management, capital and debt syndication, IPO, corporate governance and compliance, MIS, internal controls, and assurance. The firm’s objective is to leverage the knowledge, experience, skills, and network developed over three decades to provide clients with strategic insights and solutions that accelerate growth.

 

 

 

 

 

Sudha Suresh was the Managing Director and CEO of Ujjivan Financial Services Ltd, till June 2018. Prior to this, she has served as CFO for many companies.

On your educational background?  

With a firm foundation of schooling from CBSE in schools Kendriya Vidyalaya Dehu Road and Fort Williams Calcutta, I went on to do BCom Hons (1980-83), CA, ICWA, and CS with a passion to learn and be on the learning curve. I did two years of my articleship from A M Roychowdhury & Co and A Kar & Associates in Kolkata and the balance with RGN Price & Co in Bengaluru.

The in-depth learning of various audit processes and controls, client handling, meticulous recording and representation at meetings, industry-specific knowledge of operational and internal audit, budgetary and operational controls were key learnings during my internship. I qualified CA and ICWA in 1987 and CS in 1995.

How has your CA helped you in your corporate life, if at all? 

Studying CA not only inculcated in-depth subject matter knowledge but qualities of patience, accountability, diligence, and a never-give-up attitude. An openness to learn about the operations and systems in corporates across different industries gave me excellent exposure to manufacturing and service industries. Further, as we met different client companies, there were important lessons in handling the human relations aspect with teams and clients during audits. All these have helped immensely in my corporate career across diverse sectors and enabled me in taking leadership positions over the past three decades.

What have been the key learnings from your CA? 

The first set of key learnings is the valuable knowledge gained on various subjects and practical applications during the internship. Hands-on experience in soft skills such as communication helped immensely in acquiring people management skill sets. This served well later in my corporate career. Persistent efforts and patience to achieve goals strengthened as we pursued the course.

If you had to re-visit your CA, what would you have liked to have been part of your course? 

I would look at an all-round exposure during internship including the curriculum of GMCS and mandatory training with corporates during the articleship period, as well as exposure to different industries (industrial training).

What have been the chief ingredients in your success/road to the top? 

Passionate commitment to succeed in my responsibilities as Head of Finance across many companies. Integrity and focus on good governance and best practices. Confidence and willingness to take on challenges, handle crisis efficiently, innovative and out-of-the-box solutions. Last but most importantly, motivating teams and colleagues to do their best and become willing to go the extra mile in building excellent relations across all stakeholders  

What have been your best and worst moments in corporate life? 

Best moments: New/innovative financial/structured deals, raising PE during the crisis, spearheading the IPO and ringing the bell, representing the Company QOQ with media and business channels.

Challenging moments: Downsising business during the crisis due to funding scarcity, managing payments to vendors and staff on priority with scarce resources, racing against time for closures and commitments during both IPO and launching of the small finance bank.

What would be your advice to young CAs who join the corporate sector? 

Build your industry and company-specific knowledge. Aim for specialising and plan your short-term and long-term career goals. Be confident to take on leadership roles at every level and excel in communication and soft skills

Are you happy with the way the CA is structured/taught today? 

In the current context of changing dynamics, there is definitely a need to reinvent the CA curriculum. It is essential to consciously include specific timelines for hands-on experience in the industry, practical training in various areas including international taxation, private equity, investment banking, and systems audit. The articleship period could be modified suitably to ensure that post-qualification CAs can take on the corporate careers with greater capabilities.

What would you advise young CAs to read? 

For holistic development, I would definitely advise young CAs to read plenty of motivational books essentially on life skills and leadership skills, lectures, and podcasts from life coaches, CEOs, and entrepreneurs. This is an addendum to the continuous learning curve in their core subjects.