This CA who switched 7 jobs in 8 years and went from finance to sales, assures that changing jobs does not ruin your resume
CA Harshvardhan Jain, Head of Growth at CARS24 has worked in several industries ranging from e-commerce, fintech, and automotive, among others. He also made an interesting switch from finance to sales.
- Hi, I am Harshvardhan Jain, a CA (Chartered Accountant), CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), and Head of Growth at CARS24.
- As a person who does not like restricting himself to one single job role or industry, I needed to find my niche before settling down in my career.
- Whether it was moving from Wipro to a startup or shifting from my role in finance to sales, my career has become a playground in itself.
- There may be a stigma attached to job-hopping – and I have changed seven companies so far – but I wear these experiences like a badge of honour.
Building a strong base
I was born in Guwahati, Assam, but spent most of my childhood moving cities and experiencing different Indian cultures.
My father had a petrol pump business, and it was natural for me to think about joining him. But I realized it was not the space I wanted to be in.
To be honest, CA was not something I had planned to pursue. But I noticed that pretty much everyone in my batch was going for the CA course.
I would say this was one of the reasons (my fascination with numbers being another) why I too followed this path.
At that time, pursuing CA and college studies simultaneously was the norm, and so I enrolled at The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). The journey finally started.
It took me three attempts to clear my CA final exam. I was disheartened and wondered whether I would face difficulties in finding a job in my company of choice.
The doubt was short-lived, and I was determined to face the world.
From Wipro to Flipkart, while it was still a startup
After qualifying as a CA, I attended the ICAI Campus Placement Programme. I remember Jet Airways had also come to recruit newly qualified CAs. They offered fifteen round trip tickets as part of the package – a major attraction, indeed.
I kept telling myself, “You have to crack the campus placement, no matter what.”
Around 300 people were there that day, mostly taken up by the offer.
Unfortunately, I could not make it. It turned out that they were sceptical of students who took multiple attempts to clear CA exams.
Thankfully, I was able to crack the interview at Wipro and joined the company. My professional journey had begun.
I mostly handled FP&A (Financial Planning and Analysis) at Wipro.
It was a well-paying one, but a few months into the job I realised something. There were around 2,20,000 employees at Wipro, and I was one of them.
No matter how well I performed at my job they would still recognise me by the employee number. That was not what I wanted.
I started looking for different opportunities, and by a stroke of luck, a job offer arrived from Flipkart. It was still a startup in 2015. The role was exactly what I was looking for, and Flipkart seemed like a place for me to learn different aspects of business and make a significant contribution to the company’s growth.
After 11 months at Wipro, I joined Flipkart.
Trust me, when I say that it was one of the wisest decisions I had ever taken in my life. It seemed unusual for a newly qualified CA to leave an MNC for a startup but my life changed for the better the day I joined Flipkart.
At Flipkart, I was the finance partner for the whole fulfillment centre unit.
Nobody was willing to hire a CA for their sales department
Very quickly in my career, I realised that finance was like a “hardcore postmortem job” and all the action is being taken by the sales and marketing department.
You are the one reconciling numbers, formulating budgets, and being like a police inspector who is questioning the others, which is important but you cannot be a solid finance guy till you understand how business is done.
Until you understand the problems faced by those departments - such as why they overshot the budget, or why they were spending on X instead of Y, you are not following the right track.
To understand what happens at the front end of a company, I decided to shift from finance to the sales department.
I tried my luck at every possible company such as P&G, Hindustan Unilever Limited, but nobody wanted to hire a guy without a degree in the field. I understood India is a very education degree-driven society.
Just when I was about to give up, CARS24 offered me a job. It is an e-commerce platform for pre-owned cars founded in 2015.
On LinkedIn, I tried to connect with Mehul Agarwal, the Co-founder of CARS24 and somehow he acknowledged my enthusiasm.
He gave me the opportunity to lead the company's sales operations for Delhi and consequently I joined them in 2016. I owe Mehul a lot for what I am today. It was a pivotal moment in my career.
You cannot be great at running businesses if you are not proactive, enthusiastic, or full of energy.
Finance works on deadlines but here the role was more about having the right people skills to lead a team. But the knowledge of finance while you are in sales is an added advantage.
7 years and 7 companies: Experimenting with job roles
People spend almost 30 to 35 years of their life building a perfect career. Then is it not better to do something that you enjoy?
For the first seven to eight years of my career, I decided that I was going to try out different job roles, different industries, and then after figuring my niche, I would spend the rest of my career doing only that.
It has been only seven years and I am already in my seventh company.
After 11 months I moved from CARS24 to ClearTax, a Tax & Investing platform. I was their zonal business head for North and East India. After a year I moved to a Bira 91, an alco-beverage company where I lead the central growth function.
I even joined the startup wave for a change in 2020 with Bizcoveri but unfortunately that lost steam in 2021, and then I joined Bikes24 a subsidiary vertical of CARS24 as head of Sales and then further moved to lead Growth for Cars24 Australia.
A lot of people have cautioned me, “Harsh, you are spoiling your career,” but I did not really pay attention to the naysayers.
Every role came with new learnings.
It has been a fulfilling experience so far and I wear that as a badge of honor.
Why CAs should look for job roles outside of finance
To all qualified CAs out there, building a career in finance and staying there for the rest of your life is not wrong. But I would still recommend you try something else every couple of years.
Explore new jobs and roles – in sales, operations, supply chain, manufacturing, or whatever you prefer. Everything else will fall in place eventually.
There is no doubt that the startup ecosystem in India is booming right now. Join a startup of your choice and see what it feels like to work in a completely new environment.
There will be a myriad of responsibilities that you have to take care of all by yourself, and endless learning opportunities for you to take home.
For that, you must move out of your comfort zone first.