By - CA Aneri Shah
The initial steps
Still remember, that back in the day, when I was about to start with 10th standard, I had an exclusion list ready of all that I did not want to do (biology, physics, chemistry, geometry, etc.). I had a penchant for numbers, and that made me choose Commerce. I had heard that Chartered Accountancy (CA) is said to be a good profession (but tough to crack the examinations, and they surely did not disappoint :p). My life absolutely changed for the better in 11th standard, I loved accounts and all the other commerce subjects, and I found my rhythm. Post 12th standard I took up CA. I cleared all levels in my first attempt (wait let’s not clap already), but I missed the merit list, i.e. 50th All India Rank by a mark in IPCC and by eight marks in Finals (time for drum roll). Of course, I was devastated, but it was only later that I realised what a solid foundation this course had given me.
CA is not just any exam; it is a war
Most importantly, I was blessed with a fantastic set of friends and peers (of whom I am incredibly proud today because they are making great strides in all that they are doing). I still get goosebumps when I remember the preparation days and the CA examination days. It was nothing less than a war. I remember the walk to the exam hall as an absolute test of determination (butterflies in my stomach, extremely tensed) knowing fully well that I really didn’t know what was waiting for me on the other side. I think this is where its beauty lies. People keep on saying that CA is fierce and you better slog, put in xx hours everyday. I differ from this a bit. CA teaches you resilience and instils a belief in you that you can do anything you want to. My most important lesson has been to imbibe discipline in myself of seeing things through, always being open to learning new things, meeting deadlines, giving my‘A’ game always.
Articleship: A glimpse into the real world
I think the most fun part was the articleship. It sure made the plate full, but there was just so much learning. I am sure the learning curve becomes immense in early 20s thanks to this stint.
Post CA, I joined KPMG tax and regulatory team (which oversaw company incorporation, international tax advisory, domestic tax advisory and compliance and foreign exchange controls). In my 21 months stint, I found myself playing with fire quite often – workload was insane, I got the opportunity of working for clients from Japan, China, Singapore, Germany, etc. It was a splendid run which helped me develop a work ethic, find a way to structure my thought process, handle multiple assignments at the same time (I think this one is going to take a lifetime to master), network, etc.
MBA and beyond
With passing time, I found myself longing to break the mould and get into the business side of things. I decided to put in my papers and give MBA a shot. With under five months of preparation, I wrote CAT (yes, it is as dreadful as you think) and (thankfully) got interview calls from IIM-Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode& IIFT. The interviews were precisely how they are narrated on Quora (not a single dull moment), but a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with Professors of these respective Institutes who are extraordinarily brilliant, yet humble.