Career Guidance for Chartered Accountants and CA Students
At this age and with the little experience of 8.5 years in dealing with business world, I don’t think I may be the right person with required knowledge and standing to give guidance to Chartered Accountants about career, however I felt the dire need to share what I have learnt in these few years of being exposed to the world around me and I should put forward the points which I thought necessary to share.
- Completing CA is just the beginning: To be very frank and very open, I want you to know that completing CA is just the beginning of a long career journey. The world is opening up in front of you by getting the two prestigious letters in front of your name i.e. ‘CA’, it’s my humble request to make best out of it.
- Don’t choose whatever is available, make your own choice: Sometimes, people choose some profile just because nothing else was available at the time when he cleared his CA. It should not be so. First of all, you need to be clear about your own aspirations and your own passion. After becoming CA, there are no limits to the possibilities of career options. There are so many of them. The world is open for you but what you make out of your degree and career is totally dependent on your own thinking and your own decisions.
- Focus on Continuous Career Progress: Whether you are in practice or you accept a job in a Chartered Accountant firm or multinational accounting firm or a multinational corporation or bank or anywhere, your focus attention should be on your continuous career progress. Only you can do that and nobody else.
- Only you have to think about your progress: If you don’t think about your own progress, nobody else will. People will occasionally ask you about your future plans (you need to be blessed to get such people in life), but ultimately you are the master of your life and creator of your destiny. Your thinking pattern and actions will define your destiny.
- Don’t waste time and Make a Switch as quick as you can: You need to continuously think about your own career decisions, whether they are correct or not. If you feel you are in wrong field or wrong career, take actions fast before it’s too late. The chances of making errors are huge because Chartered Accountants are suitable for so many positions in the industry and since their knowledge base is vast, they are useful for so many positions.
- Your Choices will decide your quality of life: At any point of time, you will be having choices and the quality of your life and your career will depend majorly on the choices you make.
- Passion: Don’t choose a career just because you are offered a good salary package. You should choose a career based on your passion (if you really want a great career).
- Freedom: Choose a path where you get time to think freely, choose an employer that respects employees’ views and creative ideas. Choose a place that lets you grow in your ability to think. Choose a place where you are given more or less freedom to choose your methods for executing work. Freedom is most important part of your career. If a workplace does not provide you the freedom to think on your own, if the environment is not challenging, please find your way like water and flow to the best place. Never give a second though to change employers if it does not fit your criteria and your definition of success.
- Fulfilment: Passion and freedom will bring fulfilment in your life and career. Always ask yourself am I happy and fulfilled at this place? As far as the answer is yes, no worries. But when your inner calling tells you to switch over a better place, please listen to the voice that is coming from within.
- Monetary rewards: If you want to live an ordinary life of an ordinary Chartered Accountant, you will choose your job or make career decisions based on monetary rewards and remuneration. The life will start to bore you very soon and you will feel stuck in those moments. At that time it may be late for you to change gears and work on your passion. However, it will be better late than never to take control of your life and do as your heart says.
- Passion vs. Interest: Please remember that you can’t choose a career based on just interests. A person may have interest in five games (and maybe he is good at playing all five of them) but ultimately if the question is of career choice, he will choose only one out of the five because that will be the thing for which he is passionate about. You just need to do the same. You need to choose your passion, more importantly you need to find one.
- Life on default mode: Don’t spend your life on default mode, once you take a job or some other activity in your career, it’s your own duty to think of your progress and think about what career options you have? How you will move forward in your career? The moment you will start living on default mode, life will pass by and you will never realize how many years went by and you made little progress towards a big career or bigger game of life.
- Your career is your Business: Think like a business man, he will always think about progress in his business and how can he add different products in his portfolio of offerings. As a Chartered Accountant, you are valued in the market because of knowledge and the expertise you have in your field of knowledge. Think like a business man and always try to find something to add to your portfolio of knowledge.
- Your knowledge is your asset: You will add value to your career by having diverse knowledge. Try to learn new things and new skills in your career. As far as possible, keep yourself updated about the national and international developments. Especially updates and articles in the field of management, leadership and entrepreneurship.
- Learn Management and Leadership: Most important for a Chartered Accountant is to learn management and leadership skills. We are used to focus more and more on technical part of everything we have studied so far; however as per management and career experts, what is most important for success in career is your hold over non-technical skills, managerial abilities, your leadership qualities and your emotional intelligence. If you focus just on technical skills, you will reach to a certain level, but if you want to make it to the top of any organization, you will need non-technical skills, skills to deal with people, to manage people.
- The next Machine Age is coming: There was a time in past when industrialization took place, people lost jobs and machines replaced them. I would like to make everyone aware about the recent developments and concerns being discussed internationally about replacement of skilled workforce by computers and machines (software and apps) and latest technologies. The wave of technology may soon come to Asia and India too. The Multinational Companies that are paying you in abundance will not think for a moment to replace you with a machine if they are given a chance (Ultimately they are for profits, you see). Ultimately these foreign companies are interested in Capitalism and not socialism.
- Are you replaceable with machines?: You need to think very frequently about your job profile and ask a simple but powerful question, i.e. Am I replaceable with machines? Does my profile includes mechanical jobs or analytical jobs? If both, in what proportion? Talking about chances of your job being replaced by machines, if you just make a wild guess, it will take 15-20 more years for computers, technology and softwares to take over and replace analytical and non-standardized jobs as against possibility of replacing mechanical and standard jobs which is likely in five year future. You need to be very careful while planning your career.
- Aspire to become a Management Consultant: Most important aspect I wanted to bring to the notice of Chartered Accountants, Practicing fellows and the current students is about the field of management consulting. The field is very vast so I am not discussing nitty-gritties of management consulting field; however, I would like to bring the following things to your notice
- There is tremendous possibility of rendering advices to business community for running business efficiently, profitably and in smooth manner. Nearly all business units need advice (it’s different thing that they don’t ask it from you but it’s our task to make them aware about the requirement to work with the help of professionals)
- Businesses want advice for its progress and as a Chartered Accountant we are the best people to advise them about what can be done to grow business. (Provided we have that managerial aptitude and that eyes to see opportunities and ways to grow business)
- Management consulting field has nearly no limits and it will always be in demand. Always think of including Management Consulting as a practice area in your practicing firm. Nearly each and every client will require consultants for their business decisions too, it will be much more beneficial for Chartered Accountants to explore this area and help businesses grow rather than just utilizing talent and skills in ordinary practice which all Chartered Accountants are thinking first.
- Ordinary practice is dying and business community will neither value your service nor will they remunerate you as per your abilities and time spent. Better search for new areas of practice and utilize your skills, knowledge and competence for something better day by day. Explore new fields where you can provide services. There will be plenty of practice areas coming up each year, explore those areas and think of growing your own business/practice.
- For fresh practicing Chartered Accountants and those students aspiring to go into practice: The field of practice is full of competition (just like any other business) but there is dire need of Chartered Accountants with entrepreneurial skills and attitude. While majority of the Chartered Accountants are opting for secure life and decent salary packages (generally in one of the Big 4 accounting firms), there are good opportunities in practice if explored properly. More importantly, there is fulfilment of working independently and with freedom. One more important aspect I would like to mention here is about specialization. You need to take mastery over one subject or a specific area in one particular subject line.
- There are pretty good websites to improvise your entrepreneurial skills and leadership abilities. Some of them are as follows
- For Global news tracking – Forbes.com, Fastcompany.com, Businessinsider.com
- For Learning Leadership and Entrepreneurial skills – Enterpreneur.com, Inc.com, HBR.org, Mckinsey.com, Forbes.com, Yourstory.in
- Books worth reading – ‘Employees first, Customers Second’ by Vineet Nayar, ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, ‘Delivering Happiness – By Tony Hsieh (CEO, Zappos.com), ‘HBR’s 10 Best Articles on Leadership’ by Harvard Business Review
To Conclude: Don’t take your career lightly and never put your life on default settings mode, please “Become captain of your own ship and start working on your own dreams, or else somebody will put you to fulfil their dreams.”
These were few advices I expressed though this article. Please make an informed and sensible decision for your career keeping those advises in mind. I am not saying that I am an expert in the subject but as far as I have experienced in my career, I want that people should not make the same mistakes as I did. You should not repent few years later about your own choices as I did.
The advices are purely based on my post qualification experience of my five year as a Chartered Accountant working with a CA firm in Mumbai. Working on the things I was never passionate about was almost killing my soul and so I decided to quit those things and work on things for which I was passionate about. (One of the things I have pursued is to work towards transformation of Education System in India, unless that is done there are bleak chances of India becoming super power).
The monetary rewards in both choices are uncomparable but I can bet that the passionate career and choices driven by your passion will make your life worth living and much happier than it would be otherwise. (I have never been so happy in my life before making my choice). The following are some lessons learnt and advices I would like to share with the readers.
Presented by www.dreamoptimus.wordpress.com Team Page