Yes, I Am A CA And I Am In Corporate Sales

“I was born in a Sindhi Middle-Class Business Family. My Father was a small businessman who had his shop of Rajasthani clothing and bedquilts in Jaipur, while my mother a complete homemaker,” says CA Manish Balani from Jaipur, Rajasthan.

“The family to which I belong is a traditional Sindhi business family where owning your ‘DUKAAN (shop)’ and running it was more important and status worthy, than getting any degrees, diplomas or any cushy Job.

I remember when I was 7 years old, my Father having a conversation with his friends– Bus 6 -7 Saal aur, Manish ko  Dukaan par baithayenge, kaam sikhayenge, Jyada padke kya karega. 

So basically, my destiny was already decided and I was taught the nuances of business from a very tender age, plus business was in my blood.

At that time, I was studying in an average school but my scores were pretty decent but way better than my friends and family members, my parents were happy with this but as is said earlier, in a business family like ours, marks do not matter, business skills and selling goods in your ‘Dukaan’ matters.

A Twist in My Life

There was a twist happened when I was 8 years old and was sent to one of the best school of Jaipur – MPS; only after my aunt persuaded my parents seeing my scores, my parents agreed and I took admission to that school but Still ‘Dukaan’  was the priority.

However, when I was just 9 years old studying in class 4th– My father expired..  As a kid, I was shattered, there was no one to look after our family. My mother and my younger sister were now my responsibility, and then suddenly a 9-year-old kid had to become a 9-year-old man.

I remember accompanying my mother and maternal grand father to banks and post offices, for breaking the FDs, we had to sell off our beloved ‘Dukaan’ to get some funds to run our monthly expenses. All this had a deep impact on my mind and I started to understand commercial terms like- Savings, monthly expenses, rents, selling, duties, taxes, interest, etc.

I am very thankful to my school which gave me a scholarship and charged a negligible fees basis my Scores and seeing my economic condition. I continued to score good marks and always remained in the Top 10 Rankers of my class until Class 12th.

My CA Journey

Why I chose to do CA after Class 12th was based on these 3 Reasons:-
  • CA as a course was the cheapest among all other options available.
  • MBA from a reputed institute would have taken minimum 5 years (3 years Graduation/BBA + 2 years MBA) while CA takes Minimum 4 years (CPT to Final, if you clear all exams in one go) and I wanted to earn ASAP for the obvious reason of supporting my family.
  • Being from a business background, CA was a more obvious choice which suited my interest.

Luckily, (this luck came in after a lot of hard work), I was able to complete my CA within 4 years of enrolment. In fact, a certain change in the ICAI rules happened wherein now you could give your CA Final exams (last level CA exam consisting of 2 groups – Group 1 and Group 2) after completing 3 years of your articleship and not 3.5 years.

So I took a gamble and gave Group 2 of CA Final in the so-called preponed attempt and cleared it and CA Final Group 1 in the normally scheduled attempt.

So, in short, I completed my CA within 4 years and was ready to take a job and make my mother and my late father Proud of me.

My Learnings

  • There is no alternative to Hard Work, the More you do the Hard Work, More Luckier you get.
  • Always Follow your Gut, Its God’s own way of making his voice reach to you.

My Articleship Journey

After Clearing my CPT (1st level CA exam) I registered with a Mid-sized CA Firm of Jaipur, my articleship experience was the best part of my CA Journey as I was sent to do different kinds of Assignments rather than the Vanilla Ones.

My assignments included doing:
  • Systems Audit of a Manufacturing Concern
  • Doing Tax Accounting from Scratch of a big Land Dealer who went through IT Search and Seizure
  • Doing ‘User Acceptance Testing’ of a new Software deployed by a Jewelry Manufacturing Co.

All these made me inclined towards – Technology, Strategy and doing something different than what others do.

Article ship also helped me have clear concepts which ultimately helped me score well in my exams, however, I was skeptic as I wasn’t getting much time to study as Articleship was taking most of the time and even extended hours were required.

But all my skepticism was gone when I scored 386 out of 600 in my PCC/Intermediate Exams (2nd level CA exam consisting of 2 groups – Group 1 and Group 2. Now it is known as IPCC). I was just 11 Marks away from being a part of the All India Rank Holder in PCC.

My Learnings

  • What you learn during your articleship days shapes your future career, I would say a safer bet is to give more time to working at your CA Firm office rather than learning from your Books. Trust me it really is.
  • Grab every opportunity you get to work, I travelled to many cities, learned many things during articleship as I was always ready to grab the opportunity.

My Journey Post Becoming a CA

  • After becoming a CA, I went to Delhi for my Campus Placements, with a strict mandate from my mother that I will accept only that offer which guarantees me a Posting in Jaipur.
  • I cracked both the Interviews for which I was shortlisted – One with a State-Owned Bank while the second one a well-known steel manufacturing Company since none offered Jaipur as a place of Posting, I had to refuse both the offers and return back home empty handed.
  • However, I joined a Jaipur based Listed Manufacturing Company – Gravita India Ltd in the Accounts and Commercial dept and started working on a Job Profile which any normal CA would do – Accounting, Daily auditing and Statutory Compliances for SBU’s.
  • During my stint of 1 year there, every day I asked myself a question, is this what I wanted to do for my entire life? Am I enjoying what I am doing? The Businessman or I should say Salesman in me always answered - No, I persuaded my mother to let me explore something new and I joined a Conglomerate called ‘Kingdom of Dreams – Apra Group of Cos, in Gurgaon, I was reporting to the Managing Director, and was part of his Growth/Strategy team.
  • After that, I was fortunate to work for Risk Consulting Team (Risk Consulting is the Part of Governance and Risk Compliance Services, where one needs to do Risk-Based internal audits of companies to find out the areas of internal and External Risks in each department of an organization) of KPMG, one of the Big 4 ‘s, along with my normal work I also helped the firm garner more Revenue/business for the firm(thanks to my Itch for doing Sales).
  • Then came a phase when I started taking a keen interest in the Indian Startup ecosystem, Fundings, and Business Models. I joined a Growth Stage Startup Called Cardekho and Spearheaded their Corporate Sales and Strategy team.
  • Presently, I am looking after Product and Sales Strategy and Corporate Alliances for GST Software of KDK Softwares Pvt Ltd.

CA and Sales

  • In my opinion, sales is of paramount importance for anyone to excel in his/her career.
  • We should always remember that at any given point in time we are all doing sales.
  • When we go for an interview as a Fresher - we are pitching ourselves, we are selling to the prospective employer the skills we have and the dedication with which we will work in their organization, we are selling them the idea that if they hire us the organisation will get hugely benefitted.
  • When we go for an interview as an experienced candidate - we are selling what's written on the resume, our skills and our achievements in previous organizations.
  • When we decide to go for our own practice we are selling our services to the clients.
  • When we are out on a date - we are doing sales (by impressing the other one)
  • When we are negotiating our appraisal with our Boss - we are doing sales.
  • So, sales are being done by all of us, at some or other point in time, it's just that we do not realize it. So, let's not shy away from being called salespeople or salesman/saleswoman.

Coming to the point, why should CA's go for sales

  • The only reason of CA’s are lagging behind the Tier 1 College MBAs these days, is that these MBA grads can SELL (they can sell themselves and they can sell their ideas).
  • CAs have all the knowledge, all the Domain expertise but their shyness from Profiles including sales is what making them lag behind in their careers (to an extent).
  • Remember, you should opt to become a CEO and not just a CFO.

My Advice to all

  • Always carve out a Niche for yourself, being Different from Others is the Key.
  • Do not be afraid of being Ambitious. Ambition is something that will take you to places you have never imagined.
  • You Must Know Sales (say this 3 times), To me, Sales is holy. Sales is noble. Sales is the fabric of life no matter where you work and What you do!
  • To advance in your career, you have to become the Profit Center and not be a Cost center.

My life, health, and Career have been a gift to me from my parents who have always showered their blessings. My wife and my Lucky charm – my 2-year-old son have always been supportive of Whatever I do and I am really thankful to all of them,” he concluded.

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