- Do you want to quit your job and travel the world? Or do you want to travel to different countries but wondering how can you do while working?
- In this article, Rahul Bhan is sharing his experience with us – How he has traveled and worked in over 45 different countries. So if you want to work and travel different parts of the world without regretting to quit your job then pursuing CA/ CPA would be a good idea.
- Rahul Bhan is a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). He is also a CIA and MBA from Nyenrode University. He is presently the Audit Head for Asian CGIAR Centers, Sri Lanka.
- Ready to learn from his experience? Let’s dive in…
How I Decided to Become a Chartered Accountant
In 1985 when I was in grade 9, I decided to become a Chartered Accountant. Crazy, right! The decision was based on the praise which my uncle got from my relatives after passing the CA Exams.
I was an average student who had lots of interest in sports but managed to do well in studies too. I had been a state-level player of Table Tennis as well.
At that time, I had no clue of the various subjects in CA but I still decided to go for it.
After school, I did my Bachelors in Commerce (B.Com) at Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Agra (India). I scored 78% in B.Com and ranked 2nd in University (yes those days 78 % could get you a rank).
My Articleship Journey in a Reputed CA Firm
In the early ’90s, if you want to start studying to be a CA you had to be a graduate. So only after my graduation, I enrolled for the CA Course.
Back then, we had 2 exams to qualify as a Chartered Accountant from ICAI – CA Intermediate and CA Final Exams along with 3 years of articles. I could appear for CA Intermediate exams only after completing 9 months of articles.
My University rank helped me to get an articles with the best Indian CA firm of that time i.e. A.F. Ferguson and Co. (AFF), New Delhi.
Working at AFF between 1990-93 was the best period of my life. This was the time when I was exposed to some of the best corporates in India and abroad.
I got the opportunity to lead many statutory audits of various clients like – Nestle, Goodyear, Glaxo, ABB, Eicher, Escorts, Eternit Everest, KEC International, ANZ Grindlays Bank, Unilever, Partap Steels, Eicher Group, Action Aid (Nepal), Timex watches, etc.
Intermediate Exams and CA Final Exams
This was the time when I had seen the real struggle in my studies. I had passed my Intermediate Exams (now known as IPCC) in the 1st attempt; however, CA Final Exams tested my intelligence and patience.
In those days, the CA course also had subjects like SADP (System Analysis and Data Processing). And without the internet and very limited information, things were tough for me.
The only reference books were study material from ICAI, past papers, some private teachers like Vinod Gupta, classes at the Institute and some audiotapes for preparation of our exams.
I had failed my CA Final Exams twice before clearing the CA Final exam in 1995 at the age of 24.
It was quite a milestone back then.
Struggling to Find an Opportuntity as a Qualified CA
Now I was a Qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI. However, the troubles were not over yet as the next big task was ‘getting a good job!’
In 1995, I spent 3 months (from July to September) searching for job opportunities and appearing for interviews. Eventually, my persistence paid off and I got an opportunity in the Audit team of KPMG, Abu Dhabi.
Moving further to Jan’99, I got a job opportunity with PKF, Johannesburg (South Africa) as an Audit Manager. South Africa had been famous for apartheid and as an Indian working there in a white Jewish company I did have some challenges.
This was my first real exposure outside India; as in Abu Dhabi, my interaction was confined mainly to Indians and Arabs.
I Decided to Do an MBA (not a CPA) After my CA. Here’s Why.
My CA degree was questioned; comparisons were made between CA, ICAI and other international qualifications like CPA (AIPCA), etc. Then I realized the importance of a ‘Foreign Degree’ in another country and I decided to pursue the same.
Now again doing CPA from AICPA would have undermined my Indian CA qualification and hence I decided to go for an MBA. Also in various interviews during 95-99, I faced a typical question – Why should a company hire a Chartered Accountant instead of an MBA?
I believe back then MBA vs CA war was a pet subject of many.
After a good GMAT score, I was selected for an MBA at Nyenrode University, Netherlands. This was in 2000-01. We were 40 students belonging to 19 different countries. It was a lot of learning and great exposure. In fact, my international exposure and understanding of cultures started picking up from Europe after pursuing an MBA.
During my MBA, I did my internship with Canon (Netherlands) where I had an opportunity to be trained in Prince 2 Methodology of Project Management in London, United Kingdom.
Post my MBA I joined Deloitte, Amsterdam (Netherlands) as a Junior Manager in Audit.
Later, I had taken jobs with a Turkish Bank in Amsterdam, Moore Stephens and Ernst & Young in Kuwait. All these were external audit positions except for the bank where they hired me as an internal auditor.
In 2006, my colleague in Kuwait borrowed my credit card to buy books for CIA exam. Just out of curiosity, I had a look at the CIA website and tried a sample question paper scoring 55% marks, the passing marks being 75%. Then I realized that by studying a little more I could be a qualified CIA.
Without much effort and unlike CA Final struggle, I cleared my CIA exams in the 1st attempt. I encourage professionals in the Auditing field to pursue CIA especially if you are looking at working in different countries.
From Quitting my Job to Start My Own Business
In 2010, I returned to India to start my own Company. I was a co-founder along with another experienced Chartered Accountant Manoj Jain at Riskpro India.
Working with Riskpro helped me to create a big network. In 2012, LinkedIn declared my profile as one of the highest viewed profiles (Linkedin Power profile).
Facing financial challenges, I switched once again to a full-time job and joined Jindal Steel and Power Limited, New Delhi in Oct’13. As the steel industry was facing a lot of challenges, I decided to look for another job opportunity.
Finally, in Jan’16 I joined the shared audit service of Asian CGIAR centers based in Sri Lanka. My current profile involves conducting internal audits in various countries for different organizations.
- Work hard and there is no substitute for hard work.
- Take risks as the returns can be much higher and follow your heart. I had taken big risks in my career by moving out of India and working in different countries.
- Most professional CA’s advised me that you will forget Indian laws while working abroad etc. However, the outcome was the opposite.
- Due to my international exposure, I can understand the logic of laws and also compare the same in different countries. Today, I can perform my audit in so many countries because of this.
Now, It’s Your Turn…
Have you traveled as an Auditor to different countries or cities? If yes, which places?
Has traveling helped you grow as a person?
Would you advise others to pursue CPA / CA degree if traveling is one of their goals?
I’d love to hear you’re your wonderful thoughts. Drop your views in the comment section below.
You can connect with me on LinkedIn at Rahul Bhan.
(Image edited by Ankit Lodhi)