Why this Indian CA in Sydney believes in upskilling & how CPA Australia played a role in defining his career

  • Hi, I am Subbu Subramanian, born and raised in Kolkata India, and currently based in Sydney. I am a CA (India), CPA Australia, MBA – IIM.
  • Growing up, numbers have always been my strong suit. When it was time to decide my career path, the decision to pursue Chartered Accountancy was a no-brainer.
  • Over the years, I have continuously upskilled myself and in 2007, just before the recession, I moved to Australia for better opportunities.
  • Today, I work in one of Australia’s largest insurance company and CPA Australia has played a key role in defining my career path.

‘Insuring’ my Insurance journey

I qualified as a CA in India in late 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, which meant I entered the job market at one of the most unfavorable times!

When I just started out, I wanted to pursue banking. However, I landed a job as a regional accountant with Allianz Insurance. So, my entry into the insurance industry was not by design, but by accident. My job was challenging yet rewarding.

Our CEO used to look at my role as the CFO of the region. It took me a few months to understand the operations, but after that, there was no looking back. Within a year, I realized the importance of protecting various facets of life in the uncertain world. I fell in love with insurance and the rest is history.

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Continuous upskilling helped my career thrive

Over the years, I built my career in the Insurance industry and went on an exciting expedition of learning and skill development.

I pursued an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM a premier B- School in India), with an intention of learning and exploring non-financial subjects. Simultaneously, I completed an Advanced Diploma from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), London, UK.

Over the next few years, I completed the various levels of accreditation by the Insurance Institute of India (III) and was the all-India topper in III’s fellowship exam. Post-MBA, I joined AIG Insurance and worked in their Program Management Office of AIG Insurance. Here, I got the opportunity to manage and deliver country-wide strategic projects which was an amazing experience. This entire situation of starting a career in the Insurance industry taught me the principles which are still close to my heart:

  • Get skilled before practicing
  • Continuously learn to keep oneself updated
  • Learn new things to adapt yourself to change

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[Video] Everything you need to know about the MRA between ICAI and CPA Australia

Immigrating to Australia and CPA Australia being a gate opener

The insurance industry in India was privatized in 2001. While the insurance sector was growing, I felt that the industry had only the objective of acquiring new customers at the cost of insurance underwriting discipline. So, from a career perspective, I felt the need to work in a more mature and stable insurance market, and that is when I decided to move to Australia in 2007.

As destiny would have it, I moved just before the 2008 global recession, when the job market was an employees’ market. Around the same time, I decided to pursue CPA Australia qualification and had to do all my six subjects since ICAI and CPA Australia had no MRA back then.

Since I was focused on insurance roles in Australia, it was easier to research one specific industry and its players on the job front. But at the same time, it also meant that the quantum of jobs available was limited as insurance would advertise only a small percentage of total jobs. But all the efforts paid off as I finally got the opportunity to work at Suncorp (One of Australia's Largest Financial Services)!

In fact, most finance jobs require a local Australian accounting qualification and simply put, CPA qualification was a gate opener for me. Over the years I have worked in leading companies and early career in Australia, CPA qualification helped me move up the ladder. Today, I work in one of Australia’s largest insurance companies in a commercial role. It includes enterprise planning to performance framework development to outcomes management and business improvement.

The reason behind choosing CPA Australia.”

A variety of subjects appealed to me. For instance, I had the option to choose subjects that aligned with my career goal. There were options like Insurance and Risk Management, Strategic Management Accounting, International Business, Strategy & Leadership, etc. I loved them so much that I got a higher distinction in all six subjects and cleared all of them in just two sittings!

“It has been more than a decade that you are in Sydney, do you still reap the rewards of this designation?”

As my career progressed to core business roles, the foundation laid by the CPA subjects helped me a lot. Apart from being the in-demand credential in job applications paving way for a successful career, CPA Australia offers widespread networking opportunities with like-minded professionals and fellow members.

Continuous learning through various programs, discussion forums, networking events organized by CPA Australia and NSW Division Council also becomes possible. These events help me update and enhance my knowledge and skills on constant changes happening in our finance field from time to time.

The CPA membership has incredible lifetime value and has provided me a fabulous platform to succeed, which I am grateful for. The least I can do is continue to be a member of this esteemed organization.

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Advice to Indian CAs who want to make Australia their new home

“Advice to Indian CAs who want to make Australia their new home.”

Over the years, I have mentored hundreds of Indian CAs who moved to Australia. One main consistent advice has been to be flexible with the notion of an ideal role in Australia. Securing the dream job on day one is not possible. So, be patient and treat the opportunity received as a ladder towards your dream job.

Work on sharpening your skills, understanding & learning organization and business nuances, gaining as much experience, and thereby marching closer to the goals.

Opportunities will start flowing in once you explore the local market. I tell them that job opportunities in Australia depend on how well you sell yourself. It is also important to learn, relearn and adapt to the Australian work culture.

The interviews gauge the person as a team member rather than the subject knowledge. So, confidence is the key to successful interviews. Moreover, at the workplace, try to understand the nuts and bolts of the organization and its business operations, instead of just “doing your job well”. the most important piece of advice is to network, network, and network! This includes both online networking through LinkedIn and coffee catchups. I can proudly say that many have benefited through these networking forums enabled by The Australian Chapter of ICAI Sydney.


Benefits of CPA Australia for Indian CAs

As CPA Australia has an exam center in India, should the prospective candidates pursue their CPA in India and then move to Australia?”

For that my simple answer is Yes! I recommend getting a CPA qualification ideally before landing in Australia. The reason being CPA along with the CA qualification will increase the chances of getting a job here in Australia as both the qualifications are complementary.

I would also recommend continuing as a member of both the institutes, which will benefit one immensely in their professional career.


Why did you decide to do CPA Australia

“What is CPA Australia’s MRA with other institutes?”

Acquiring CPA Australia also provides global portability which is an important factor for all professionals. The case studies featured in the course are very valuable and help you to apply the knowledge in real situations. CPA qualification has a global reach and CPA Australia has several MRAs with accounting bodies, just like the MRA with ICAI. The CPA qualification could become a stepping stone for building an international career.

If you want to know more about the MRA between ICAI and CPA Australia please write to cpaaustralia.india@professionalconnect.co.in/ chantelle@thecastory.com! You can also leave your details here.

Advice to finance professionals to grow in their careers

Now It's Your Turn...

Do you believe in continuous upskilling? Have you considered pursuing CPA Australia?

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