Sharing an Inspirational CA story of CA Rahul Bhan who has traveled and lived in ‘over 40 different countries on work‘ and still does. He is a very kind and helpful human and if working in different parts of the world is on your mind – He is the RIGHT person to guide you.
“Chartered Accountancy (CA) has been a most respectable course for Indians. In the year 1985 while still in grade 9, I decided to go for CA as one of my uncles just passed his CA exam. The decision was based on the praise, which my uncle got from the relatives,” says CA Rahul Bhan who is an Audit Head for Asian CGIAR centers, Sri Lanka who has traveled to ‘over 40 countries’ since the start of his career.
“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 B.com at Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Agra. I was an ordinary 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 where I played UP state finals in team events.
The real CA journey started after my B.com, i.e. hunt for article ship. During that time, we could get into CA only after B.Com and could appear for CA -Intermediate Exams only after 9 months of articleship.
I was lucky to have scored 78% in B.Com thus getting the 2nd rank in the University, yes those days 78 % could get you a rank !!! This rank helped me to get an articleship 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 was an audit senior on statutory audits of various clients including 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 & CA Final Exam:
Fast forwarding, it was now exam time. This was the period where I had seen the real struggle in my studies. I had passed my Intermediate Exam (now known as IPCC) in the 1st attempt, however, the CA final Exam really tested my intelligence and patience. In those says the CA course also had subjects like SADP (System Analysis and Data Processing), with no internet and very limited information things were tough.
The only reference books we had were study material from ICAI, past papers, some private teachers like Vinod Gupta, classes at the Institute and some audio tapes for preparation of our exams. I had failed twice before clearing the CA Final exam in 1995 at the age of 24. It was quite a milestone back then.
Life Post CA:
Now I was a Qualified CA, however, the troubles were not over yet as the next big task was – Getting a good job! In the year 1995 the time from July – Sept was spent searching for jobs and appearing for interviews. Eventually, my persistence paid off and I got an opportunity in the audit team of KPMG,Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, UAE.
Moving further to Jan’99, I got a job with PKF in Johannesburg, South Africa as an Audit Manager. This was my first real exposure outside India as in Abu Dhabi my interaction was confined mainly to Indians and Arabs. South Africa had been famous for apartheid and as an Indian working there in a white Jewish company I did have some challenges.
Pursued MBA and not CPA:
Also, my CA degree was questioned, comparisons were made between CA, ICAI and other international qualifications like CPA of the US etc. It was then that I realized the importance of a ‘Foreign Degree’ in an international country and decided to pursue the same. Now again doing CPA from the US or any other country would have undermined our Indian CA and hence I decided to go for an MBA. Also in various interviews during 1995, I faced a typical question as to why should a company hire a CA instead of an MBA! I believe that 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.
My international exposure and understanding of cultures started picking up from Europe after pursuing an MBA. We were 40 students belonging to 19 different countries. It was a lot of learning and a great exposure. 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 got a job with Deloitte, Amsterdam, Netherlands as a junior manager 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 I was hired as an Internal auditor.
In fact, in the year 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%. It was then that I realized that by studying a little more I could be a qualified CIA. Without much efforts and unlike CA Final struggle, I cleared my CIA exams in the 1st attempt.
Moving ahead, in 2010 I returned to India to start my own Company i.e. Riskpro India (www.riskpro.in). I was a co-founder along with another experienced rank holder CA Manoj Jain. Working with Riskpro helped me to create a big network. During 2012, my profile in LinkedIn was declared as one of the highest viewed profile (Linkedin Power profile). https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/…/itslide…/17492680.cms…
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 a job and finally in Jan’16 I joined the shared audit service of Asian CGIAR centers (www.cgiar.org). This profile involves conducting internal audits in various countries for different organizations.
Major Takeaways from my Journey:
- 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.
- My professional CA’s did advise me that you will forget Indian laws while working abroad etc. However, the outcome was the opposite.
- Due to my international exposure, I am able to understand the logic of laws and also compare the same in different countries. In fact today I can perform my audit in so many countries because of this,” he concluded.
P:S: You can contact Rahul Bhan on firstname.lastname@example.org. He is the best person to connect to if working outside India is on your Mind!!!