Why CA Abhijit Sanzgiri joined the corporate world after 21 years of running a well established CA practice

  • I am Abhijit Sanzgiri; an all-round Chartered Accountant who serves as Senior Partner at A. P. Sanzgiri & Co. Chartered Accountants.
  • I qualified in 1989 and I never thought I would do anything other than managing my own practice.
  • However in 2010, after 20 years in CA practice, I was offered a role in the corporate world! I love going with the flow so I took it up as a challenge.
  • Fast forward, in 2015, I rejoined my practice. 
  • Here is my story of how my unconventional decision shaped me!  

Qualifying in the late 80s

Chartered Accountancy (CA) was already one of the ideal professions for a student in Commerce in the late 80s, so I went with the flow to reap its fruits.

After taking an aptitude test that stated my proficiency in Finance, I convinced myself that being a CA is my destiny.

Like most CA aspirants in India, I took my CA entrance exam after Grade 12 and did articles alongside my graduation.

I cleared all my CA exams, including CA Finals on the first attempt. This does not mean it was easy. Instead, it serves as a symbol of hard work, perseverance, patience and dedication to education.

And there I was, all excited and happy to start my journey as a CA with no idea what the future held for me.

CA Practice right from the start!

After qualifying as a CA in 1989, I was fortunate to get an opportunity as a Partner in the firm where I served my articled training. On the side, I also helped my father manage the family business.

This continued for 5 years however due to internal differences I moved out from the business and soon started my own proprietary practice, which I managed individually and as a partner.

In 1997, after 8 years of post-qualification experience, I resigned from the partnership firm, closed my individual practice and started a new partnership with 2 CAs. 

Our quality work especially in the domain area of banking led to tremendous growth. The word went around and one client referred us to another, and that way we grew slowly but steadily.

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After over 2 decades in practice, I decided to join the corporate world

In 2010, after almost 13 years in the new firm and 21 years in practice, I got an accidental call for a role to head the internal audit department of a reputable business group in India.

Needless to say, this came as a big surprise! 

On enquiring, I got to know that since the company was setting up a new function, they wanted someone with the experience of handling a diverse team and who could start from scratch, making me the perfect candidate!

I love going with the flow and as I always wanted to move out of my comfort zone this seemed to be the perfect opportunity but I knew I could not take this decision all by myself.

I consulted with my wife who is an advocate in practice, and my partners in the firm, they all felt the same...and that is when I ventured out into the idea! 

Fresher in the corporate world

One would think that fitting into the corporate world was easy with my wealth of experience and numerous years in practice... unfortunately, it was not! 

The first few months were tough adjusting to a routine of a fixed time. Also, not being my boss was a bit daunting initially.

Being in a new environment meant knowing the finer nuances of the business which in this case were more than one.

Post the initial 100 days, when I settled down, it was smooth sailing all the way as I was doing what I knew all along - Internal Audit.

In fact the very same year, we won the Institute of Internal Auditor (IIA)’s award for Best Innovative Manner of Conducting Internal Audits.

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Back to CA practice and nurturing other personal interests

By now I was very well settled and in 2014, after 5 years of heading the internal audit, I was made the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a listed company!

All was going well but at heart, I was always a practitioner and an entrepreneur – I felt that if I spend more time, I would lose my practice touch.

After a year of the CFO role and having understood the nuances of the function, in 2015, I resigned from the corporate world to rejoin my firm.

The corporate world stint shaped me so much and gave me a view from a different seat - a different perspective.

After rejoining CA practice, I made the time to nurture my communication skills, mental strength, digital marketing, executive presence, and human behavior.

As a human being, I continue to learn, unlearn and relearn and in everything I do, I apply the HURT MAD philosophy; a self-developed principle that promotes being Helpful, Useful, and Relevant with Trust (HURT) to Make A Difference (MAD).

Learnings from my 5- year stint in the corporate world

Be prepared for the worst. Be ready to face any challenges.

If you do your work with the intent of helping others and not taking undue credit away from someone, people will trust you.

Empathy is a great skill to have. 

Trust backed by competency enhances your credibility. You then become a trusted advisor to whom people will reach out for guidance and support.

The bad is that your intentions could be misunderstood and people will put obstacles on your path. You need to overcome them with a positive attitude being focused on your goal.

The ugly is that people will be rude, overly critical, and at times play favorites. Being calm in midst of all these hurdles, staying true to your purpose to serve is the way.

Wrapping up…

It is not always the case that entrepreneurs join the corporate world and I am lucky to be one of the few that do.

Had I not taken the corporate path, I would have never known how the grass looks on the other side. I learned the power of communication, collaboration, and teamwork for mutual win-win.

I strongly recommend exposure to both sides of the coin so that professionals can have a full view of both the corporate world and practice.

In addition to this, I recommend that every young professional should have an accountability partner that helps to significantly fast-track personal growth and development.

Invest time and money on soft skills such as communication, negotiation, persuasion, emotional intelligence, and mental strength. No tertiary education qualification can substitute these!

If I had to turn back the clock, I would have taken work less seriously and spent more time with my kids at their growing stage!

Now It's Your Turn...

Have questions for Abhijit comment below and let us know.

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