The journey from a CA to an MBA

Venue: Hotel Monarch Luxur, Bangalore

Date and Time: 12th February, 2.00 pm

Profile: General, Non Engineer, Female

CAT: OA 97.99, QA 95.56, VA 97.71

10th: 95.00% (CBSE)

12th: 97.20% (CBSE)

Grad: 71.85% (B.Com)

Qualified CA all levels in First Attempt, All India Rank 22 in IPCC, with a 100% in Accounting

Article-ship Experience of 3 years in Deloitte (does not count as work-ex)

Workex of 1 month in a Financial Services startup as a Lead Consultant

GD topic: Nothing is right, nothing is wrong, everybody has a different opinion.

WAT: 15 minutes. Decent attempt. Started with a lot of ideas and gave 2 or 3 examples. I could not conclude that well, but overall it was fine. (Maybe I took a slightly moralistic stance.)

GD: 10 minutes. Again a fairly decent attempt. I was the 4th or 5th to speak, did not have a first mover advantage, but I was very clear and loud, pitched in around 4 times, and had a decent air time (maybe around 2 minutes overall). Managed to give examples and modify flow of the GD when everyone was just giving in random ideas in the first 2 minutes. Only negatives were that I cut in once when someone was talking, and that nobody in our panel kept track of time and concluded.

I had to wait for around 1 hour before I could to be called for interview. I was of the assumption that the engineering crowd would be hostile and the wait would be awkward but it turned out totally different. I even met 1 person whom i had known from PG. I also seemed to be the ONLY non engineer in the crowd of engineers. 

Finally I was called in.

Panellists were the same people who moderated WAT and GD. Panellist 1: Middle-aged Prof, Panellist 2: Very young prof. who was a lady.

P1: Please come in. (immediately afterwards got busy on his cell phone for the next 2 or 3 minutes)

Me: (I smile, I approach the desk, hand over my documents, start telling P2 which is what and she tells me, they’ll check it out, no problem)

P2: So, good afternoon. Let me just go through your profile sheet. (goes through) Oh so doing CA, no you’ve finished CA. Nice. Madras, Madras, Madras. Oh so you have lived in Madras your whole life? Not much moving out eh?

Me: Yes mam, born and brought up in Madras. However, I am looking forward to moving out now.

P2: Oh why so?

Me: Well, looking for independence, new experiences, new friends, new learning  What better way than a B-School?

P2: (smiles) So what are you doing now?

Me: I am working with a Financial Services start up which provides non structured CFO services to various other start ups. We cater to all their accounting, financial, compliance, valuation, projection and various other needs.

P2: (worried, checks my form) Why have you not claimed this as work experience?

Me: I joined around a month back, mam, and at that time, when I filled my form, I was actually not a part of the firm.

P2: A month back (thinks a bit, seems ok). So University of Madras, you had to go and come to college everyday?

Me: Mam, I pursued CA right after completing school, and my degree is a distance education degree.

P2: (checks the documents again) Oh, that’s right. So your institute (of CA’s) has been nominated for Swacch Bharath Abhiyaan

Me: Yes mam, recently we have.

P2: What is your institute going to do about it?

Me: I am not aware what decision our executive body would take, but there should be a communication from our central office to regional offices soon.

P2: ICAI seems to be a very closed decision making body. So many rules, principles, regulations.

Me: Yes mam, we have a code of conduct.

P2: Is it? Ok, tell me 3 points from your Code of Conduct.

Me: (I start telling her, she cuts me when I am onto the 2nd point)

P2: So this truth and fairness of Financial Statements, how do you ensure that?

Me: (My experience of working with Delloite had prepared me for this answer)      I start telling her right from planning to individual FS line item verification and gave her an example from the Revenue of a Manufacturing sector. She cuts in and asked me about how I can you ensure correctness of revenue with a messed up service sector? I spoke to her about Service Agreements, Milestone Billing, Time Booking, Rate Contracts etc. all of which help us calculate and cross check Revenue. So I did not get to finish my answer, but I did justice to all those diverting questions she asked).

P2: Tell me about Window Dressing, is it a reality?

Me: ( My profession had been insulted in my previous interviews. So I was ready with a defensive answer.) Mam, it is a reality, a very sad reality. It is unfortunate how such instances can give my profession a bad name. But I have grown up in an atmosphere of very ethical CA (my dad, my uncle, younger brother who is currently pursuing) and I believe morally sound CA’s far outnumber the dishonest ones. The future of the profession is very bright.

P2: So why don’t you stick to CA, you have already worked so hard for CA qualification. And let me tell you, in all IIM’s, especially in IIM-Lucknow, the course structure is very rigorous. It is going to be a another 2 years of slog. Why MBA?

Me: My strengths are such that they would be brought out the best in a managerial role…

P2: (cuts in) Hey, give me an honest answer

Me: I see myself in the top management of a company. I see myself making strategic decisions. During my article-ship in Deloitte, I had a good chance to study and understand the implications of so many business decisions.

P2: Ahhhhh, so that attracted you to MBA?

Me: Yes mam.

P2: But your father must be having a firm. He does not want you to take care of his firm, is it?

Me: Yes he has a firm, but in the recent year, he has scaled down greatly and is now focusing a lot on teaching.

P2: (seemed pleased) It is nice to see so many CA’s taking up teaching. Even my neighbor is a CA, and I see so many students come and go.

Me: Yes mam, there is high demand for quality CA classes.

P2: Good, good, I guess that would be all, unless sir has anything to ask?

(Till now P1 was going through all my documents)

P1: So, when did you finish CA?

Me: Finished my Final in May 2014, and finished my articleship in August 2014.

P1: Ok, so what are your hobbies?

Me: In school I was involved in a lot of Debating, Public Speaking, Creative Writing, Social Service. But my habit of reading has stuck with me through till the very end. The last book I read was a biography of Jacqueline Kennedy.

P1: Oh very nice. What did you learn from it?

Me: Well it was a very inspiring read. She broke all norms of her times, of US high society. She had a full time job. Initially as the busy wife of 2 very busy men John F Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis, both of whom she lost tragically, and afterwards, she took on a full time job.

P1 and P2 look at each other: Ok, then, that will be all.

P1: (smiles) It was a pleasure meeting you.

P2: (smiles) Wish you all the best. (I move forward and offer my hand to both of them. I shake hands and smile.)

P2: Collect your documents now.

(As I collect my documents, my hands brushed the toffee bowl)

P1: (grins at me) Please take a toffee.

Me: (I grin back) Thank you. Should I call in the next person?

P1: Oh no, I’ll take care of that.

Me: Bye, nice meeting you.