How this CA & corporate strategist worked in multiple industries & later built a successful career in the aviation sector

If given an opportunty to start all over what would you do differntly?

If given an opportunty to start all over what would you do differntly?

  • Hi, I am Subhajit Bose, a Chartered Accountant, Cost Accountant, Company Secretary, MBA & Ph.D.
  • Like most freshly minted CAs, I had no idea what I wanted from my career.
  • I started as a Credit Analyst and later an internal opportunity presented in Corporate Strategy...I knew I found my area of passion.
  • Fast forward to 2010, after working in several industries, I got an opportunity with Emirates Airlines in Dubai.
  • Here I developed expertise in the areas of strategy, analytics, market intelligence & Audit/Risk advisory services.
  • After almost a decade at Emirates, I returned to India and started my career at Indigo.
  • Here is my journey. 

 

What is your job as strategic head and planning at Indigo

Inspired by my father I decided to pursue CA

My father was a Chartered Accountant and as I grew up, I developed a liking for Finance.

At an early age, I realized Finance is the lifeblood of any organization. 

I knew that if I could understand Finance well, I could understand the overall health of any organization irrespective of its industry.

I made up my mind to pursue CA.

I always wanted to qualify quickly and get into the real action so like most CA aspirants in India I started my CA journey right after the 12th grade.

I simultaneously enrolled for Cost Accountancy and Company Secretary along with my B.Com and a computer course.

To add, my college (St. Xaviers, Kolkata), was very strict with attendance and did not encourage anything beyond B.Com. Needless to say, I had a grueling schedule. (Whew!)

The struggle eventually paid off when after appearing back to back for various exams in a span of 62 days, I managed to make the cut. What a relief!

I was now a Chartered Accountant, Cost Accountant, and Company Secretary. 

From a fresher to a corporate strategist 

After qualifying, I did not have any five-year plan and took things as they came.

I was offered a job at American Express as a credit analyst. AMEX as a brand always appealed to me and working in a foreign bank was a cool thing during those days. I took up the opportunity.

During my stint in AMEX, I realized that I was getting involved in 'corporate banking strategy assignments'.

I seemed to enjoy the forward-looking approach which a planning environment provides and the satisfaction of a properly executed plan!

After 3 years at AMEX, I was offered a role at Warren Group - back then it was amongst the top 5 tea companies in India.

They had aspirations to diversify their business and were looking at someone with strong financial analysis background and cross-industry exposure to head their corporate planning & strategy functions.

I found it to be quite interesting since what I was advising my corporate clients in AMEX, now I had the opportunity to execute it myself, hands-on. They also wanted me to incubate their IT company which was just about to be launched.

All in all, I thought this would give me tremendous exposure to working on all facets of a business. So, I jumped at this opportunity and took it up.

Leader or mentor that you look up to

How do you face criticism and how do you handle it

Doing an MBA while working full time

In a few years while still at Warren group, I realized that deep functional knowledge is critical but once you rise beyond a certain level of seniority, a lot more is expected.

You need to have the ability to connect the dots, understanding the big picture, and manage relationships.

Basically, I knew an MBA could give me a helicopter view of all the functions.

Since I had to continue earning, I chose the blended program with classroom and DLP study modes, which was conducted by Manchester Business School.

Yes, it was slightly difficult but eventually, the hard work paid off!

From India to Dubai: Opportunity at Emirates Airlines

By now, I had close to 8 years of experience with Warren Group. 

At this point in my career, I was keen to understand how companies operate in other parts of the world and started looking for opportunities abroad!

One day, I came across an opportunity at Emirates Airlines through their career website. It was a business analysis role!

As my parents were aging, I did not want to be very far from India and Dubai was a good choice from a geographic standpoint, so I took a chance and sent them my resume!

Much to my surprise, I received a call from HR that the Group Head of Audit & Management Consulting at Emirates wanted to interview me. (This was not the role I had applied for!)  

After multiple rounds of telephonic interviews followed by an interview in Dubai, they offered me a role which was very exciting...and that's how I ended up at Emirates Airlines. 

 

Biggest learning in this volatile and uncertain times

Continuous growth and sharpening my analytics skills

For the first 6 years at Emirates, I was heading the entity for Audit and Management Consulting functions.

Thus, my assignments could be with any key department of the organization and I was either auditing them or providing management consulting services (which I had to sell!).

Over time, I realized that to be effective and provide value to my clients, I need to back up my observations (as an auditor) or recommendations (as a management consultant) with data.

That's when I started further sharpening my analytics skills and invested time to upgrade myself in this area.

Since I had a core Finance background I was focused on revenue, cost, profitability which mattered the most, and shortly I moved into the business, helping them to set up the analytics & strategy functions, which I headed.

Since I was always academically inclined in the sense that I wanted to know the theory and rationale behind whatever I applied in practice, I decided to do a Ph.D.

What is your view on digital transformation and latest technologies

Returning to India with Indigo Airlines

While still at Emirates (by now I had completed almost a decade here), I received a call from a search executive professional who mentioned that they are hiring for a senior leadership position at IndiGo.

They explained the role and I found it to be exciting.

Moreover, IndiGo was the fastest growing Airline in Asia, I knew it would be worth exploring, and agreed to share my profile with them.

On the personal front, my daughter was starting class 8 and I always wanted her to study in the Indian education system at least till graduation.

Fast forward, after a series of telephonic and face-to-face interviews they made the offer - Director & Head of Strategic Planning, Analytics & Control function.

I knew this would give me an opportunity to apply various things which I did in Emirates, it all made perfect sense.

I took the opportunity and returned to India.

Advice to finance professionals who are looking at building their careers in the airline industry?

Wrapping Up…

Luckily all my decisions paid off however my life is not a bed of roses and I too faced a lot of challenges. 

Working in multiple industries had its own share of challenges, especially when you need to convince people as a newcomer in an industry/organization with innovative and disruptive ideas.

I faced many challenges while implementing new ideas especially those which were disruptive in nature.

But I experienced that if you are honest, have integrity as a non-negotiable trait, are open to learning, and appreciate other’s views, people will support you eventually.

It's always the power of ‘We’ and not ‘I’ that is the winning formula.

Now It's Your Turn...

Do think being industry agnostic is good? Any questions? Comment below and Subhajit will get back to you.

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