29 Dec 2020 14:15 IST

‘Learning Accountancy trains you to take calculated risks’

My advice to young CAs is to be up-to-date with current affairs and stay eager to learn

On your educational background

I completed my articleship at V Ramarathnam & Co, and secured All India 1st Rank in my CA finals in 2000. I gained practical knowledge of application of taxation and auditing while working with a series of small partnerships and to large companies, and performing bank audits.

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

My CA course taught me punctuality, the ability to multi-task and smart working. The strenuous routine of a CA student — our day started at 5 am, first class would start at 6 am and last class would end at 8:30 pm. There were thousands of students outside the lobbies of coaching centres at 6 am punctually waiting for the classes to start, articleships during the day, and thereafter an evening coaching class as well. Our ability to navigate multiple subject streams on a given day, besides the demands of the articleship forced us to work smart. A chartered accountant is regarded highly in the corporate world, as they are versatile in several areas of finance.

What have been the key learnings from your CA? 

The curriculum trains you to take calculated risks. There is flood of content that you can read online/offline to supplement the study materials provided by the institute. The C-suite priorities have transformed from broad segmentation and one-time pricing to micro targeting and dynamic, real-time pricing and evaluation. Even though my role was never directly in accounting, auditing, I have used that knowledge in financial market-related decision making.

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

Communication skills; presentation in board room/investor meets, and data analytics in the world of AI.  

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

My ability to multi-task and seek out additional projects in versatile streams. Beginning with a career at an Indian private sector bank, and thereafter moving to an international bank, has enabled me to gain a multinational perspective and allowed me the opportunity to hone my networking skills. Every important decision is put through a cost-benefit lens for global replicability.

During a meeting, the attendees time is as important as yours, if not more. I have learnt to keep the meetings structured, concise and meaningful for the participants.

Embracing digital into the business strategy has been key to increasing staff productivity and gaining positive client experience.

I encourage reverse mentoring from the junior members of the team, who present challenging ideas without worry or fear of implementation. Reverse mentoring broadens your strategy lens and aids decision making.

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

Best moments: Receiving the CEO award for best team providing customer service.

Worst moments: My first year, when I switched jobs, where I had to restart learning banking in the new organisation from basics. This was simply because I was not prepared to re-learn. The first year gave me a perspective, that we must set aside our egos, and be willing to unlearn.

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

Learn, learn and forever learn. You can learn on the job, from your peers, through mentoring, and buddy relationships. Develop extensive networking connections as they come in handy. Stay true to yourself, and be honest always. Do certification courses on block chain, AI to continuously stay ahead of the game.

What would you advise young CAs to read? 

Be absolutely prepared on the daily international news and national news, even if unrelated to finance. Some focus areas that you can read up on include business model innovation, change agents, operational performance drivers, and use of artificial intelligence in decision making. Books on best examples of corporate risk management, Harvard Business Reviews, will also expand your mind. One must-watch documentary on Netflix is “The Social Dilemma” which shows the power of data, that can be exploited in pursuit of capitalism. It speaks of the responsibility towards the overall well-being of a society and to use data only for positive outcomes.

(The writer, a chartered accountant, is in a leadership role at an international bank.)