When the dream of living in the USA seemed unachievable this CA turned the tide in his favour with his never give up attitude

  • CA Maulik Mehta had the dream of, ‘living in the USA’ from a very young age. His ambition was so strong that he started planning his studies accordingly.
  • Despite having the work experience from Big 4 companies, that dream seemed unattainable at times, but he never gave up and after years of struggle he finally set foot in the USA in 2016 and eventually moved to Canada. 
  • Maulik says -  Throughout my journey of pursuing CA to starting up in Canada, I have learned one valuable lesson, the power of persistence and hard work exceeds the biggest of setbacks.

Working towards a better a life

For a kid who was always good with numbers, it became pretty obvious that pursuing a career in finance would be wise.

Apart from my fascination with numbers, it was also my childhood dream to move to the USA. I had relatives living there and their way of life impressed me greatly. They lived in big houses and had better facilities, while my family and I lived in a small 250 sq. ft condo.

I still remember those days when I would go to the terrace of our building to study, no matter the season. I wanted a better life for me and my parents. 

My determination of settling in the USA was so strong that I started planning my studies accordingly from a young age.

I even qualified for the TOEFL and SAT exams during my 12th grade, but was rejected from all colleges in the USA because of a lack of funding.

It was at that moment when I decided to pursue Chartered Accountancy from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). I loved finance and I knew as an Auditor I could settle in any country.

For my CA articles I figured, it would be better if I chose one of the Big 4 accounting firms and so I went ahead with KPMG. I thought it might help to create more opportunities for me to travel abroad.

For the upcoming years, I kept working on my personality and communication skills as it would increase my chances of working abroad.

Life seemed to be going in the right direction.

The dream of working in the USA seemed distant

In 2011, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant and continued with KPMG with the hope of getting an internal transfer to the US.

I was confident that my dream of moving to the US was closer than expected.

I even decided to go for a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB.) instead of M.Com since 12+4 years of education was a must for a job in the US.

By January 2012, I was promoted to Senior Associate at KPMG Mumbai. 

However, no matter how hard I tried, it was difficult to get an intra-company transfer to the KPMG US even after working there for 5 years.

What next?

Career break and preparing for CPA US

I had to take the risk to fulfil my US dream.

Taking a career break and going for a CPA certification seemed like the most sensible thing at that moment, because that was my best bet to travel to the USA.

I had no friends or acquaintances in my circle who had completed the US CPA program.

Different Social media networks, such as Facebook and LinkedIn came to the rescue. They connected me to other people with similar backgrounds.

Fortunately, these people had more knowledge regarding moving abroad and were able to walk me through the process.

Around this time I, along with two other friends from office, decided to visit Singapore in 2013 to gain a new perspective.

In October 2013 within a month after the trip, I ultimately found the courage to quit KPMG and registered for the US CPA program. In January 2014, I flew to Arizona to give my exams.

The plan was to stay in the USA for 6 months and figure out a way to settle down there.

My relatives, who were there, supported me unconditionally. They took care of all my food and accommodation expenses. Because of their generosity, I had to pay for only my exam fees, travelling, and other ancillary expenses.

However, even after getting the CPA certification I could not get a job in the US and had to return to India within 6 months.

At this point, I was completely jobless and had lost all hope. All my dreams were shattered.

Trying to make it in USA…I finally did!

Luckily after coming back, India was kind enough to give me another opportunity in those tough times.

Two different job offers came my way from EY Mumbai and KNAV. I chose KNAV to get exposure to the US GAAP and also there was another window of opportunity to travel to the USA.

KNAV applied for my H1B work visa for 2 years but alas! There was no sign of luck.

At this point, I had my US CPA certification, work experience at a Big 4 company, and US GAAP experience, but a visa was required to move to the USA.

Luckily I had maintained close contact with the senior manager from PwC since I first started my USA journey. I found out that PwC had a vacancy at the time.

After 5 rounds of interviews, I got the job and they applied for my H1B visa. That year PwC had applied for 20 H1B visas across the globe and only 5 got selected, including mine.

I was on cloud nine and my life changed. I finally saw the light at the end of the long tunnel. That incident further proved that ‘Persistent effort towards your dream is the key’.

Change in plan

After spending 3 years with PwC US and speaking with the PwC immigration lawyers, I learned that it would take at least 20 years to get a Green Card. That news threw me off guard.

Doubtful thoughts started flooding my mind. But my wife was a pillar of strength during this whole time. I took a deep breath and began thinking practically instead of losing heart.

Being on H1B, I decided to leave PwC in 2019 and joined a small CPA firm in California to gain experience in public practice at ground level. I wanted to learn practical Taxation after 12 years of experience in Audit.

Everything seemed to be going according to plan.

In the heart of Silicon Valley, San Francisco, I got into the startup vibe and wanted to do something of my own. However, with all the immigration restrictions in the USA, it was difficult to leave my job and build a startup.

After living in the USA, despite a good experience, I realized that it was quite impossible to settle down or bring my parents to live with me.

Another issue was the mediocre salary that I was getting. Why settle for less, when I had the potential to do bigger things in life?

All the answers then led me to Canada, which gave me the best of both worlds.

With no connections, no job in hand we immigrated to Canada. 

After moving to Canada, I started my Business advisory firm MaShCube with a specialization in Cross Border Tax compliance. 

My vision is to create a Multinational Chain and have offices in each city of the USA and Canada to help people at the retail-level earn revenue. It was not easy but God has been kind to me and fortunately, the venture took off, especially during Covid-19.

Wrapping up…

The entire CA journey was tough, but it taught me ‘If you fall, get up and keep working until you achieve it’.

It built a strong foundation for me to face anything that life threw at me, and prepared me for the roadblocks that would come in the future.

I would recommend everyone to focus on a very specific dream of theirs and be flexible. If you truly want it to happen then come what may, you need to find the ways and never lose hope.

It is vital to find the right mentor at every stage of your career. I cannot thank my mentors enough for guiding me through confusing moments in my life.

Lastly, I would like to dedicate all my achievements to my sweet mother who stood by me throughout. 

 

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