Keerthilakshmi BR has done B.com (Honors) and is a Chartered Accountant and is currently doing her MBA from XLRI.
Tell us about your background
I come from a place called Shimoga, a small town in Karnataka. We are a business family engaged in movie exhibition and distribution. After completing my Class XII in commerce, I moved to Bangalore and pursued my B.Com and Chartered Accountancy simultaneously. After 2.5 years of Articleship, I joined Ernst & Young for the last year of Industrial Training and continued working there post qualification for 2 years.
How has your CA career been and what are your takeaways from the same?
It all started when I had to write CPT (CA entrance exam) within 2 months of my Class XII exam, with no exclusive time available for preparations. It was a tough call to go against the odds; however, I cleared the exam with distinction. Subsequently, when there was an option to advance my CA Final exams at a short notice, instead of getting flustered, I chose to grab the opportunity with both the hands and came out with flying colors. I even opted for industrial training in a new organization with my CA Final exams just few months away. With my experience, I can identify myself to be a person who is not afraid of failure, but of failure to make the most of every available opportunity.
I did my Articleship from M/s Manohar Chowdhry & Associates, a mid-sized firm having a strong presence in south India. Based on the suggestion of my reporting partner, I chose to do my B.Com through distance learning which enabled me to work on diverse assignments ranging from corporate finance, direct & indirect taxation, statutory/ special purpose audits, company law, regulatory, etc. and across a broad range of clients such as infrastructure, manufacturing, HNI, NPO, etc. I believe that this experience provided me with a flavor of various streams and alignment with my academics, before moving on to specialization in a big 4.
What are the highlights of your work experience?
Even though there is an ever-lasting debate in the CA fraternity whether to go for practice or services, I personally believe that it is advantageous to get a glimpse of both in the initial phase of your career to be able to make an informed choice for the long term. Keeping this in mind, I decided to continue working at Ernst & Young. I was part of tax & regulatory practice with a focus on international taxation and transfer pricing. Being an emerging area, I got an opportunity to work on planning, structuring, M&A, controversy management and compliance related engagements and had a chance to be a part of some of the hot happenings in the corporate world and develop a closer understanding of the big businesses.
So what brings you to MBA and XLRI?
Though I had an exciting and satisfying journey as a CA, I felt that there is more to managing a business than possessing technical knowledge. Also my consulting experience opened my eyes to the importance of finer aspects of business and I decided to pursue a formal management course that will provide me holistic understanding of business aspects and will equip me to make impact in a bigger way. XLRI was a preferred choice and is a place where you get to compete and learn from your peers throughout, who are the best minds chosen from diverse areas purely based on merit. So far, it’s been a roller coaster journey and this very experience is what makes it more valuable.
What is your take on unconventional career choices, as your own?
It is very significant to take that first step and you only have to be right once. So it is important to never feel constrained and remember that the dots can only be connected backwards. There is an increasing no. of CAs pursuing management education and having an inclination towards business entrepreneurship. With CA course not remaining traditional anymore, the trend is only going to go up.
So what is next?
In the short term, I intend to take up a role in industry/ consulting that would allow me to develop practical experience in larger aspects of business along with decision making capabilities. My long-term goal is to hold a leadership position in an organization of international repute and contribute to making it a great workplace along with accelerated business.
Read this inspiring story of a rankholding CA-turned IIM Ahmedabad MBA grad - Hemanshu Chokhani.
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