After 3 decades of slogging in his corporate jobs this CA reinvented himself to a certified soft-skills trainer
- CA Shanker Viswanath was undoubtedly successful in the corporate field but it came at the cost of having no work-life balance at the slightest.
- After working tirelessly for almost three decades in the corporate world Shanker ultimately dived into his new venture at the age of 48 as a certified freelance soft skills trainer.
- He has also grown to become an Emotional Intelligence cum Business Coach, training over 15000 people in his individual capacity.
- Here is his journey.
It all started with taking up Chartered Accountancy
After completing 12th standard in1984, chartered accountancy seemed like the crème de la crème of professions to pursue as a commerce student.
While still in college I started my CA journey and eventually qualified as a Chartered Accountant (CA) in1990…although it took me 10 attempts to do so!
Back in the time, the career scope for chartered accountants was limited to either the corporate world, joining a CA firm, or starting your own practice.
Due to the insufficient knowledge and support at that moment starting my own practice was a big no.
The ultimate strategy was to gain experience by working in a CA firm and then make the transition into the corporate world.
The opportunity soon presented itself as I came across a recruitment advertisement from the finest CA firm at that time Ms. A. F. Ferguson & Co (an affiliate of KPMG Peat Marwick in those days). And there started my professional journey as a qualified chartered accountant.
Thriving and surviving in the corporate world
I joined A. F. Ferguson & Co as an “Audit Senior” and climbed the ranks up very quickly.
Those days they had the policy to promote CAs qualified from England and Wales over the local ones to partnership positions. This forced me to rethink my priorities.
As they say, when one door closes another one opens. An opportunity from Ogilvy & Mather, a renowned Advertising Company, soon came knocking at my door.
Not only did they offer me a role as a Commercial Controller of their Mumbai Branch Office, their largest office in India, they also gave me a stupendous jump in salary as compared to A. F. Ferguson.
I was only 28 years old.
With them started my long-awaited corporate journey with a vision to become a CFO before I turn 40.
Having worked in the Advertising industry space for the next 10 years and moving a couple of jobs, I shifted base to the Middle East.
In 2005 at the age of 38, I finally reached my destination - Head of Finance at Honeywell Kuwait KSC. What a great feeling to have achieved this milestone.
Meanwhile, in 2009-10 the Global recession started and the Middle Eastern market had taken a hit. There was also a need to return to India to take care of my aging Father.
I took a call to say a final goodbye to the Gulf and returned to India in May 2010.
As expected, back in India, I faced the harsh truth of the huge pay gap between the Indian and Middle Eastern markets.
I had a tough time getting back on my feet all over again and sat at home, unemployed for almost 5 months.
Finally, I joined the professional team at RSM Astute Consulting.
Within a matter of about a year, I got promoted to the position of Associate Director and was heading a Strategic Work Unit delivering services in the areas of Internal Audit, Risk Management, Due Diligence and Financial Process Outsourcing.
Spotting the burnout and making my way through
From grinding away throughout my career to having a nonexistent social and personal life at my corporate jobs; I had reached the saturation point in my career.
It wasn’t long before I realized that I was just dragging myself out of the bed every single morning.
In terms of monetary privileges, job position and perks, it was a reality anyone could ever dream of. But nothing really matters unless you have the inner satisfaction and in my case that was absent.
Around the same time, I stumbled upon a premier training institute offering Image, Soft Skills and Train the Trainer Courses.
I went there to restore my social and personal life but little did I know that this would change the course of my life forever.
After taking a look at my accomplished corporate background the promoters of the institute were pretty impressed. They mentioned that I am a perfect fit for the field of soft skills training.
I went through the Professional Program in Soft Skills Training and saw my experiences in the corporate world getting translated into knowledge. This gave me a huge confidence boost and showed me that I have the potential to start something on my own.
When I was contemplating quitting, my wife and I tactically prepared a cash flow for the period between 2014 and 2024.
We worked out whether we could survive for the next three years without me earning any revenue while also keeping aside an emergency fund for a rainy day. It all seemed workable.
With my family beside me - after almost three decades, I walked out of the corporate world in 2014 and took off for a new start.
Got out of the rat race to lead a decent living
The most difficult part of the transition was coping with the change in my personal and professional life.
From slogging away for nearly 14 to 15 hours a day to abruptly having no deadlines at all sort of threw everything off balance. A huge drop in the stress level could drastically impact our bodies!
To keep myself occupied I thought what’s better than upgrading myself. I got a Professional Certification in Soft Skills and began my freelance ride. I also got certified as a “Train the Trainer”
There was an urge to give back to society, so I got associated with an NGO and volunteered to assist them in their education and skill development programs.
In the process, I got the “Recognition of CAs in Social Service” award in 2015 from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
Weirdly enough this caught the attention of the S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research and I was offered a scholarship to pursue an MBA in Development Management from the institute. I went for it.
Of course, this did put a break in my journey as a soft skills trainer, as I wasn’t able to take up many training programs because of my studies.
I knew to be recognized as a trainer market presence is needed and I wasn’t doing that. But I was enjoying the learning space.
In 2017 after my MBA reenergized I started my journey as a full-time soft skills trainer.
Over the years I found my niche in Emotional intelligence training and later got into Business Coaching as well.
Today I can proudly say that during the last 7 years in this space I have been able to train about 15000 people in my individual capacity ranging from students, corporate professionals, chartered accountants, to homemakers starting their second careers, entrepreneurs, NLP coaches, senior trainers, doctors.
What joy it brings creating an impact every day of my life.
Do you want to start your entrepreneurial journey?
Having a mindset of steady growth was one of the reasons I chose this space rather than wanting to grow 500% a year.
Before jumping into the decision to be on your own, do a thorough analysis of your monthly expenses/liabilities, etc.
Entrepreneurship has seven key areas namely marketing, selling, operations, R&D, finance, HR, and management and it becomes indeed difficult to handle these things all by yourself. Thus collaborating with others is critical.
There are no shortcuts to success. Be ready to slog it out there.
You are your biggest hurdle or your biggest catalyst; choose what you wish to be right from the very beginning and do not be susceptible to the negative influences of other people.
At the end of the day, we are all like cracked pots, we all have imperfections. As an entrepreneur, trainer, or individual try to identify those cracks in people if possible and help them convert those cracks into their strengths.