Today we have Tejan Dargar a qualified Chartered Accountant from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) sharing with us his Chartered Accountancy journey and life in general.
Tejan is from Bhilwara Rajasthan (India).
Note: CA from ICAI consists of 3 levels. CPT, IPCC and CA Final. One has to do a mandatory internship of 3 years after clearing IPCC exams.
MY JOURNEY AS A CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT
No, the choice wasn’t obvious. I had to choose which stream to pursue – Science, Commerce or Arts.
Science was a straight NO for me (I hated physics), Arts – No (who takes Arts with 94% in 10th boards, “log kya kahenge”), and hence the answer boils down to Commerce.
The dilemma doesn’t end here, I wanted to do a course which gave me access to college life so Chartered Accountancy wasn’t even on my mind!
I studied hard to ensure that I get an admit to the prestigious Sri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi but God had his own plans. Missed getting admission at SRCC by a meager 0.75% and hence took up Chartered Accountancy.
My Chartered Accountancy journey began with dreading classes for CPT (stood 2nd in the district full of CA students) and then IPCC (2nd level CA Exam from ICAI). I also cleared IPCC in the 1st attempt scoring pretty well.
Now it was time for a 3-year internship at a Chartered Accounting Firm.
MY ARTICLESHIP AT GRANT THORNTON AND BMR
I always aspired to be a multi-talented person, not just another bookworm who would clear Chartered Accountancy Exams in the first attempt.
Post clearing IPCC, I decided that moving to Mumbai from Bhilwara in Rajasthan would be the best decision as it would expose me to the glittering corporate world, frame my personality and would shower the best networking possibilities.
I also wanted to start my internship with a global brand to ensure that my above-mentioned objectives are met.
I applied to the Big 4 Accounting Firms in India – didn’t even get an interview call for the want of reference! So if this is happening to you it is okay, there is HOPE.
I believed that they would look at my academics and would invite me for interviews but this wasn’t the case.
Being a hustler, I understood the meaning of – When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
I finally managed to get an interview call through some reference to an employee there.
And that’s how I started my internship in the Audit and Assurance wing of Grant Thornton (GT).
I worked with the best talent and clients in the Audit and Control Testing domain of GT but I still wanted to explore all the opportunities available to a Chartered Accountant student.
One day while talking to a senior, I was told that it is almost impossible to get into this International and Corporate tax firm called BMR. He mentioned that the interview process was super tough, much more difficult than the Big 4 Accounting Firms.
My curiosity increased and the desire to at least get interviewed by BMR became my goal. I managed to get the email Id of the HR through a friend’s contact who was working with BMR. I wrote an email highlighting academics and a special mention of my experience at GT.
After multiple rounds of telephonic and face to face interviews we were hired (my twin brother – Viren Dargar also joined BMR).
- The learning from this incident was NETWORKING COULD TAKE YOU PLACES.
- Be it through LinkedIn or any other social channel, don’t be reluctant to write cold messages or emails to the employees who are working in your dream organization and say how you can add value to that organization.
- Also NEVER GIVE UP.
WHY I TOOK A TRANSFER FROM GT TO BMR
- The objectives of me joining BMR and leaving GT was to get a diverse set of experience so I could explore different avenues and get to know what field is right for me.
- I believe this is the most important advantage of the transfer mechanism at the Institute.
- I also want to break this notion that – TRANSFERS ARE NOT POSSIBLE.
- This works best when done at the start of the career as it is always better to fail early. You get up, clean yourself and get back to work.
- I also firmly believe that there are two modes of learning: Through observing others’ experiences or by experiencing it yourself. The latter one is a costlier one in terms of time (we have limited time on earth). Hence, the former is most advisable.
MY EXPERIENCE AT BMR
- First Day at BMR: As I enter the workplace, I find people having endless rounds of discussion on the interpretation of tax laws, concalls with clients happening in the conference rooms, a huge library and people finding the relevant case laws to strengthen their case, printers working in full force and outputting 100 pagers submissions and suited people rushing out of the office to meet the tax officers or reach the tribunal.
- First Assignment: My first assignment was analyzing the taxation laws of various countries like Netherlands, Ireland, UAE, Mauritius inter alia to help find the client the most favourable jurisdiction to establish a holding company for their business. It seems pretty complex, right. Hell yes, it was.
- After reading dozens of tax treaties and articles, speaking to lawyers in different jurisdictions and discussing with my senior, the so-called interesting task of making a PowerPoint presentation started.
- And alas, after I finished the task, I was informed that the font size, alignment, colour to be used in the smart charts and dozen other things need to according to BMR standards. Not to mention that my designated buddy who was supposed to tell me all OF this hadn’t come to the office.
- Later assignments that I worked on taught me drafting skills, presentation skills, and excel modeling skills.
- As interns, we attended meetings with lawyers who represented our clients’s thus giving me an opportunity to meet some of the best corporate tax layers of the country.
- Call with clients and explaining to them BMR’s opinion on a particular case was so fulfilling. Reading two case laws every day (as suggested by my director in charge) was a toll but made my understanding so strong.
- Life was tough with CA classes from 7-10 in the morning and late-night sittings in the office but the excitement of learning something new every day and working on the toughest tax cases outweighed all the tiredness.
- And after all, winning the INTERN OF THE YEAR AWARD boosted my confidence.
- Oh, and how can I forget the most loved culture of BMR – parties!!
- Participating in corporate sports tournaments, marathons etc, all instilled in us the feeling of team spirit.
- And in my stint with BMR, I grew from – A timid guy to a confident one, from a student to a true professional.
- I also made some great friends here and build amazing industry contacts!
- All I can say is I truly lived the spirit of BMR and stood by the BMR tagline – CHALLENGE US.
ENTERING THE GLORIOUS WORLD: OF INVESTMENTS AND CAPITAL MARKETS
- After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant the ‘capital markets’ bug bit me and I wanted to venture into a work area where I can closely observe and learn about the stock markets.
- After applying for many opportunities, I finally got selected by EDELWEISS in their multi-strategy department.
- At EDELWEISS I got to work in the new and evolving Alternative Investment Funds, Portfolio Management Schemes, Mutual Funds and experience of establishing an Ireland based Fund.
- I worked with some of the best talents in the industry.
- Initially, it was tough to work on something which wasn’t my forte but the skills set that I had gained while working with BMR and Grant Thornton helped greatly. Also, the knowledge acquired during the Chartered Accountancy course proved to be of great help.
- The most interesting assignment here at Edelweiss was to establish an Ireland based fund which led me to be in constant touch with various service providers (lawyers, custodians, administrators) in Ireland and exposed me to the way Europe functions.
MY JOURNEY WITH FAILURE
I have had some tough moments in life but I chose to overcome them.
Be open and at the same time BE AFRAID OF FAILURE because this fear of failure makes us work harder to achieve success.
Here are a few instances where I faced failure:
- Not getting admission in one of my dream colleges SRCC.
- A startup which after months of planning couldn’t last 2 months of execution.
- Memorizing was not my thing! Whatever be said, Chartered Accountancy course is to some extent a memory game also. I remember 4 months before CA Final the exams, I was still attending classes, I hadn’t started studying anything on my own. And then one of the professors in the class told us that those who haven’t started studying and who do not have a great memory shouldn’t think about clearing the exam the coming attempt. I was depressed but I couldn’t afford to give up. I pushed myself and it paid off – I CLEARED THE EXAM.
- I didn’t get an internship in a Big 10 Accounting Firm after trying for 3 months. With a great score in CA IPCC exams and relatively good communication skills, it was a great disappointment for me. But I had made my decision to get into a Big Firm – I gave hundreds of interviews, walked into multiple firms personally handing over the copy of my resume (sometimes to the security guard) and it paid off. I got an internship opportunity with Grant Thornton. Here networking on LinkedIn helped me really.
- The initial few months in BMR were the most difficult days of my professional career. The work pressure was too difficult to handle and the culture was alien to me. One year later – I was awarded for Superior Professional Contribution at BMR.
- Most of the time, we focus so much on our weakness that we fail to focus on our strengths. This happened to me as well. I was not great at interpreting laws but was good and inclined on assignments that involved complicated MS Excel and PowerPoint skills. I for a long period of the time struggled on my weak areas (not denying the fact that I worked on it and improved) and completely ignored my strengths. Ultimately, I worked on one such assignment utilizing my strengths and that assignment received so much appreciation from my seniors and peers. So all I can say is – Play to your strengths.
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I will end this with a quote by Epictetus – We don’t control what happens to us, all we control are our thoughts and reactions to what happens to us.
Remember that: You’re defined in this life, not by your good luck or your bad luck, but your reaction to those strokes of fortune. Don’t let anyone tell you differently – he concluded.