How this CA moved from an MNC job to build a successful career at a CA Firm and is now an Entrepreneur
- Hi, I'm Chirag Doshi, a Chartered Accountant from India and a Certified Information System Auditor.
- I started my career in 2003 with a Big 4 Accounting firm and later moved to an MNC intending to have a job that lets me travel around the world.
- I'm sure you want to know why I decided to shift gears and join a mid-sized CA Firm, and how I started my company called CD Financial ReEngineering Advisors LLP.
- Here's my story of how I left my role as a Partner at a mid-sized firm and went solo. Hope my story will inspire you to follow your dreams.
Growing up, I wanted to be a Criminal Lawyer, however, my father a commerce graduate had a dream of me being a Chartered Accountant.
The journey to becoming a CA was not very stressful as I never wanted to become one in the first instance. I had a family business as an option and dreamt of becoming a Lawyer, so I took less pressure and hence could clear all the levels in the first attempt!
Less pressure and more mental peace can definitely smoothen your path to success.
Forging my career path: Think different, think future!!
As always, there is a long term and short term vision, the goal for me was to always think different, think future!
Once I finished my CA course, I sat with my mentor and made a list of 10 firms in the order of priority to submit my resume. PwC, being the most well-known CA firm worldwide was on top of the list.
I submitted my resume to the HR there and got a call in a few days for an interview. After a tough interview, I was selected to join PwC.
Once selected, with the never-ending thirst to know more about how big corporates operate, I used to work for long hours to understand the whole entity business model apart from statutory audit. The opportunities I got at PwC varied from large telecom companies, media companies, pharma companies, engineering companies and also a film and fashion awards.
After almost two and a half years of service, PwC India provided me with the opportunity for a work secondment to PwC Toronto, Canada. The opportunity helped me gain exposure to international accounting and auditing standards and acts like Sarbanes Oxley (SoX 404).
After spending approximately six months and coming back from Canada, something had changed. I now wanted to travel the world and work all over.
I decided to take up a job in a multinational company that could give me exposure to international companies. (At PwC, I could have asked for an internal shift to another country, but I wanted to be based in India while travelling for work.)
In short, I wanted to stay in India, but have a job profile that would let me travel all over the world on work.
Desire to travel and moving to an MNC
In a few months, I came across a job profile at Siemens Corporate Finance, Mumbai, India. This German group company was known for implementing and ensuring compliance with IFRS (global accounting standards), across various companies of Siemens in the Asia Pacific and South African region.
I thought IFRS would come to India someday as the world was becoming a global village, and financial professionals around the globe should speak the same language, so I took up the new opportunity.
My profile took me to several countries like Germany, Singapore, South Africa, Egypt, Philippines, Kazakhstan, Dubai and more. (in which case I used to visit India in between two assignments for visa procedures). It was a dream come true and one of my best decisions!
Transitioning from an MNC to a mid-sized CA firm as a Partner
After almost two years of extensive traveling, I realized it was now time to stay in India longer. Also, I was about to get married and decided it was time for a new job opportunity.
To create my own identity, focus more on my personal life and serve the CA fraternity, I looked for an opportunity at a medium-sized firm.
My friend introduced me to a firm named MZS & Associates, an aspiring and growing firm (now BDO India).
After a short span at MZS, in 2010, I was offered a partnership at Khandelwal Jain and Co, a well renowned CA firm with more than 40 years of existence.
With many big Indian corporates as their clients who were looking for an IFRS conversion specialist, my previous MNC experience seemed perfect!
In hindsight, my move to this firm was more intuitive rather than a calculated one...the opportunities and challenges available at this firm were very different, and I wanted to experience them!
Working at the CA firm unleashed my entrepreneurial side
At Khandelwal Jain, I got an opportunity to handle challenging and interesting assignments right from SoX 404 review for India’s largest private sector bank to audit India’s second-largest public sector bank to information technology audits and many more!
My role also consisted of listing an Indian entity on Nasdaq, facing PCAOB reviews, forensic assignments, IFRS/IND AS implementations and reviews.
From a team of zero, I built a team of almost 7 Chartered Accountants and 20 semi-qualified accountants, all of whom were reporting to me.
Most of the articles trained under me qualified during this tenure and are working with one of the big four CA firms or with large corporates, which makes me feel proud and happy.
On a personal level, my move to a mid-sized firm also gave me the time to conduct more than 200 lectures on various platforms on an honorary basis...it felt amazing to give back to the CA fraternity in some way.
In short, the exposure was amazing and totally worth the transition.
Quit a cushy partnership at a mid-sized firm and went solo
With the kind of experience I had and having a different set of vision and goals than that of the firm, in early 2019, I decided that it was time for me to jump into the ocean of entrepreneurship.
It was a now or never kind of a situation!
Within six months, I completed all of my existing commitments and started on my own.
I took a three months break to plan my new venture and went on a 35 day Europe tour to find some time for myself and to study the international market.
From there, I launched my new startup, CD Financial ReEngineering Advisors LLP (CFRA), based on the model of reengineering your processes to reduce cost and increase efficiency.
In less than six months of existence, we had clients ranging from top MNC to local companies, both domestic and international. There has been no turning back!
Business Model & Services provided
As a concept and evaluating the risk with professional entrepreneurship, I decided to make multiple brands with different services with everything online.
We have a four service spectrum:
- Checks & Balances – Covers services like standard operating procedures, policy drafting, IFC testing, enterprise risk management
- FinTaxTicks – Finance (raising funds like debt, equity, IPO support, etc.), taxation (supported by my network partners), ticks (forensic review management support, or other management audit support).
- Bridegap – Virtual CFO, financial statement preparation and support to startups.
- LetNetwork – Based on the concept of “let your network work”, bringing together professionals on a large scale to share work and earn. We are also in the process of creating an online platform for a gig economy called “LetsConnect” for salaried or freelancing professionals where once you have listed yourselves, work finds you.
We work on the model of hiring professionals on a need basis, so we have no fixed costs and more or less immune to losses from epidemics or a slowdown in the economy. It’s a model framed after researching the domestic and international market, and with us on the virtual concept, we can work with clients all over the globe.
So yeah, keeping the mantra of my life simple and powerful, “think different, think future”.
Questions I get asked often.
Do you need a lot of money to start your own business?
I worked out my annual expenditure, and how much I had in my bank account to see whether I could sustain my lifestyle with no income for two years.
I took the opportunity as time waits for no one. TRUST ME IT WAS THE BIGGEST DECISION OF MY LIFE, but after a practical evaluation of money required, my dreams and gathering the courage, I took this decision.
Were you scared when you started?
Initial days were a nightmare. I asked myself, “What if I will fail? What if I will have no work? What if I can’t survive my current lifestyle?”
The risk I took was big, but I decided to go for it on practical grounds.
Any mistakes made that others could learn from?
Not giving health much importance.
In my initial learning phase, I used to work late at night, during holidays and I did not have a clear work-life balance which started affecting my health. I think after the COVID-19 impact, the whole world realised that health takes priority.
“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
I achieved my vision by thinking differently and embracing change which necessary for growth and innovation.
Charismatic leadership has a great effect on entrepreneurial activity.
Good communication skills, clear vision and goals, support to your team, self-belief, better time management, providing an atmosphere for conducive growth and continuous learning is the backbone of any successful entrepreneur.
Chirag Doshi has more than 15 years of experience in the field of international accounting and auditing (Statutory and Forensic). He is also specialized in IFRS / IND AS implementation, compliance, training and advising clients on reporting and system integration in various countries.
Now It's Your Turn
Have you ever decided to start your career in a mid-sized CA firm instead of a Big 4 firm? Comment below and let us know.
(Article edited by Lindy Ntuli and image edited by Ankit Lodhi)