I took six years to clear my CA exams, got rejected in nos of interviews; inspite of all this my career took off
Amit, took 6 years to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. He managed his CA Final exams with a full-time job. Today he is the Vice President of Finance & Administration for an Oman based school.
- Hi I am Amit Khare, a Chartered Accountant (CA), and the Vice President of Finance & Administration at Indian School Al Wadi Al Kabir located in Oman.
- My story will resonate with many as I took multiple attempts, and almost six years to clear my CA exams... I was in my late twenties!
- During that period instead of sitting idle at home, I joined Aptech and managed my CA Final studies with a full-time job.
- Here is how my persistence and positive attitude helped me succeed.
Switching from Company Secretary to Chartered Accountancy
As a philosopher by nature and a poet at heart I would say Commerce was not a choice, it was destiny.
B.Com. honours was the best possible choice for high school commerce graduates.
Theoretical subjects like law and audit were my forte.
When it was time to choose a professional course, my first pick was the Company Secretary (CS) course, and surprisingly not CA.
Everything was going according to plan. However, when I was pursuing my CS articleship I came across Mr. Purushottam Das Sharma.
It was complete happenstance.
He sort of became my mentor and showed me the values of the CA course.
He further explained to me how the job market for company secretaries was not that great (at the time).
In life, our choices are very few, especially when someone comes from a middle-class family. Hence CA seemed like the best option for me.
I went ahead and enrolled at The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).
My CA journey then began at the age of 22 in 1999.
From failure to failure
My CA journey was certainly not a cakewalk.
It was the first time that I faced failure.
Because of my overconfidence, I tried to clear both groups of the CA Intermediate exam at once and failed. Although I got exemptions in two papers.
Nevertheless, it was a really dark moment in my life.
During those tough times, my mentor Mr. Sharma lifted my spirits.
He said to me “Amit, this is life. And in life this kind of thing happens” and shared how he had to face challenges in his life too. That somehow motivated me.
With hard work, I cleared my CA Inter on the second attempt.
During this time I was also completing my CA articleship.
Once I finished my practical training, I was eligible to appear for my CA Final exam (Earlier it was mandatory to complete your articleship before writing the final exam).
This time again I failed to clear the CA Final exam on the first attempt.
Deciding to self-study for CA Final exams
I could not understand what I was doing wrong.
This made me reanalyse my situation.
You should know that I qualified for my CA Inter exam without the help of any additional coaching.
Then it occurred to me, “Maybe I should join a coaching center”. People around me were also suggesting the same.
But can that guarantee, a successful outcome? I did not think so, besides I did not want to waste any of my parents’ money. I resorted to self-study.
Just because I was stuck in an undesirable situation did not mean that everyone was.
I was somewhere around 20 or 25 at that time.
While I was still trying to clear my exams, some of my friends were working in their dream companies.
It was not easy, age was catching up and I did not have the luxury of just studying. I had to provide for my family as well.
What should I be doing?
Not easy to be employed when pursuing CA Final studies
Instead of sitting at home and doing nothing, I decided to apply for a job. I landed a job at The Amritsar Transport Company.
My plan was to gain some experience but the work environment did not appeal to my personality.
I left and started concentrating on my studies.
Again no luck!
Following that, I again tried searching for a job. I attended plenty of interviews across different BPO companies. Alas! I could not crack even one of them.
It was not because my English was bad or anything.
In the HR round, every time they asked me, “Are you pursuing CA?” I answered with a yes.
That was my biggest mistake.
The moment somebody qualifies as a CA, more often than not they are going to leave the company. That is why very few companies are interested in hiring someone who is pursuing CA.
I was in my late twenties with the responsibility to provide for my family but no organisations was ready to empathize with me
Soon a job opportunity from Aptech showed up, which is a leading IT Training Institute. But this time I told my would-be boss that I had quit CA for personal reasons.
That is how I got selected at Aptech. But you should know that just because it worked for me, does not mean it is going to work for you as well. Answer truthfully as much as you can.
Working full time 10 hours a day while preparing for CA Final exams
Juggling my office and studies was not a piece of cake as one can imagine.
I had a pretty long commute to work.
To leverage that time I started studying on my way to work and back home.
CA final exam was nearing.
The dreadful day came and I had to ask my boss for study leave.
The questions started pouring in, “Why did you lie to me that you quit CA?”
I calmly explained everything to him. He understood my situation. I was also a top performer and never let my studies impact my work.
It was impossible for me to abandon my responsibilities like that since I was a full-time employee. He gave me a 10 to 15 days' leave, thankfully.
I revised all I could in those 10 to 15 days and went to write my CA final exam in November of 2004.
The result came out in May 2005.
I did not have the courage to check my own results.
When I was having lunch in the office one of my close friends called me saying “Amit, you have finally become a chartered accountant”.
I had finally done it.
Foraying into the education sector
In the three years I was at Aptech they increased my salary from INR 8000 per month to INR 11000 only (from say $100 to $170)
Naturally, I started job-hunting and landed one in the education sector.
After qualifying as a CA, I joined The British School as an Accounts & Finance Executive.
The scenario of the education sector may be different now but back in 2005, we did not have to apply our core chartered accountancy knowledge as such.
The working hours were usually 8 or 9 but some days there were exceptions.
I used those hours to work on myself, my teamwork skills, and other areas of work.
All in all the challenges were completely different from my previous job but I enjoyed it.
Over the years, I moved roles, worked in different countries and today I am the Vice President of Finance & Administration at Indian School Al Wadi Al Kabir located in Oman.
All I can say is – I had my own share of ups and downs, it was not easy but I am doing very well in my career. Only because I chose to persist.
Steer clear of these popular myths about CA
Anyone who is pursuing CA, or wants to pursue it, steer clear of these popular myths about Chartered Accountancy.
Myth number one: you cannot clear CA exams without the help of tuition.
I am not against it per se, but I am not in favor of it either.
CA is one of the cheapest albeit valuable professional courses available in India. But when you count in those sky-high tuition fees, it becomes costly. Many lower and middle-class students might not bear the cost.
CA is all about understanding concepts and if you are determined enough you can easily do that all by yourself.
Many of the coaching class professors have a cult-like following. Understand that, this is their business model!
Myth number two: If you are a CA student you should lock yourself in a room and study for 24 hours straight. You know what? I tried that also. It made me drowsy.
I suggest you study responsibly throughout the year, but not at the expense of your physical and mental wellbeing.
On the day of the exam wake up in the morning, maybe take a nice bath to clear your head, then revise your notes for an hour or so.
Keep calm, and write the exam papers with a clear mind. Believe me, you would succeed.
Myth number three: You have to sacrifice your personal goals for CA.
For instance, I cleared my CA exams after getting married.
Your life does not have to come to a standstill because of CA or any professional goals for that matter.
In the end, life is a journey and Chartered Accountancy is just a part of life.
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