[VIDEO] My Journey From Tackling Challenges to a Successful Career in Dubai as a Chartered Accountant
- Have you considered ‘Moving to a New Country Especially The UAE' for a better career?
- Hi! I am Bhavesh Raichura. I am a CA from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) and based in Dubai for more than 8 years!
- I come from a small city in India and in this article, I share my experiences of shifting to a bigger city from a small town to pursue my dreams. I also share the experiences that made me financially independent and the various challenges that I had to overcome.
- Why am I telling this story? Because even if one individual gets inspired by my journey, it would be worth it.
Growing Up in a Small City in India
I am originally from Porbandar, a small city in Gujarat, which also happens to be Mahatma Gandhi's birthplace.
Initially, a lot of things happened accidentally in my life. For instance, I happened to study in a CBSE school just because my Dad was working at Birlas (a large company in India) and this school was just next door!
Like any other kid in India, I was too much pro-cricket and it was all about just (watching) good cricket but playing poor cricket! I still remember this: It was 1996, I was in class 10; when I was going for my exam and 'Sachin Tendulkar' got clean bowled in that match.
I was so disturned that I ended up messing my paper! When got home, my father asked me about my paper and I told him it was very bad. He asked me the reason and I replied – “You had told me that Sachin Tendulkar got clean bowled and kept thinking about that.”
That day my Dad gave me the best advice, he said – “In life, if you have to bat, bat on your own capability; not even on the Master Blasters capability.” And I follow this advice to date!
Moving To A Big City From My HomeTown
After my 12th standard, there weren’t enough opportunities in my hometown to pursue my career further. So, I decided to move to Mumbai (aka the Financial Capital of India) for my further studies.
Actually it was my uncle in Mumbai who encouraged me to move here and study in a hostel. He was so supportive and did everything he could - from helping with my college admission to ensuring that I was comfortable in this big city which was so new to me.
I joined that hostel which was known to be one of the smartest professional-creating organizations. I was not aware of what I needed to do; however, the moment I got admission to the hostel, then I was on my own, which was quite new to me because my whole life I was never independent.
But it was quite a good experience as I felt very liberated.
Pursuing CA and Dealing with Challenges
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step".
To be honest, becoming a Chartered Accountant was never a part of my plan! A friend of mine was going to the CA Institute and I happened to join him. And that's how I ended up enrolling for the CA course.
When I enrolled for the CA course, I genuinely did not know what I am getting into. Neither had I harbored any inclination to pursue it that rigorously. My plan was simple - To just go with the flow and see what happens! Luckily I kept pursuing the course, did my articles and moved on to my CA Finals....and it was here that I got stuck for the first time!
During my CA Final examinations, my mother had a serious health problem and I had to go back to my hometown. When I met the doctor he told me that my mom would recover sooner only if I stayed back and spent time with her. So, I decided to be with her and spent almost 60 days of my 90-day study leave taking care of her...family always comes first!
When I returned to Mumbai, I had only 34 days pending for my CA Final exams. That attempt I got an exemption in one subject (which was amazing!) but scored 39/100 in my tax paper (the min to pass was 40) because of which my total was 197/400 (I needed 200/400 to clear that group) and thus Failed...and that too by a few marks! It was so disheartening but there was no turning back for me.
Financially also there were challenges as my father retired during my graduation. In fact one day he told me that "it was time I start focusing on finding a full-time job as he did not have enough financial resources to support us all".
I made a deal with him saying that – You have to take care of your finances and I’ll manage my finances. And I stuck to my word!
But how did I manage financially with such mounting expenses in an expensive city like Mumbai? Luckily, in Mumbai there are a lot of Trusts which support through scholarships – few amongst them being JRD Tata Trust, Walchand Trust, etc. and these trusts do a fantastic job when somebody is truly deserving. Support from my hostel and these various trusts, helped me continue to pursue my CA.
Having a Never-Give-Up Attitude and Finally Passing CA Exams
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” And I just did that.
For me, there was no option to doubt or to give up. The only option I had was – to be smart enough and to pass the exams because if I passed, there were a lot of opportunities coming my way.
I remember a good friend of mine who I used to look up to (and still do!) moved to Singapore after qualifying as Chartered Accountant and his journey gave me HOPE. It showed me that if I qualified I could also get access to similar opportunities. So my entire energy was on passing the exams rather than doubting or thinking or doing anything else.
Now it was time for my second attempt....but, unfortunately, the CA syllabus changed! I failed that attempt. I was quite frustrated but I kept going.
And I got lucky in my third attempt and passed the exams. I was now a qualified Chartered Accountant...Woohoo!
Struggles In Finding a Job And Finally Moving to Dubai
"People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude".
To be very honest, after I qualified as a Chartered Accountant I struggled to find a job in Mumbai. I qualified in July and was of the opinion that companies would be waiting for me but NOTHING of that sort happened. So for 3 months, I went through a very difficult time. I was a CA but with NO JOB and NO Money!
With a lot of references, I got a very average job which was INR 15,000 a month (almost $ 200) which could take care of my expenses but it was really difficult as that the job demanded a lot from me. I gave my best but soon realized I could not continue struggling like this. I deserved more and could do a lot more with my CA qualification.....if we do not value our skill set no one else will!
One day a relative of mine who was in Dubai called me saying that – Would you like to work in Dubai? I said that I would love to work in Dubai but I don't know how to prepare my CV for the Dubai market. And I requested if she could help make my CV...can you believe I did that!
After a few days, one of her friends called me up and said – "How hopeless you are that you can request somebody who is helping you to prepare your CV. Why don’t you make it for yourself?”
Fast forward, I took the advice, prepared my CV all by myself and came to Dubai on a visit visa.
Challenges When I First Moved to Dubai
2005. As soon as I landed in Dubai, I got an opportunity to work in a CA Firm...I was so excited and considered myself so lucky! I started work immediately!
Now here is the issue - I was working on a Visit visa and the CA Firm refused to give me a work visa. I was 22 years old then and did not know the difference between a visit visa and an employment visa. I was just more excited about finding a job in Dubai.
Unfortunately, I started working at this firm and when I realized that I was on the wrong side of the law by working on a visit visa, I got scared. I wanted to move back to India but this firm had confiscated my passport.
For almost 5 days I did not know what to do or how to go back to my country. I spoke to my seniors, everybody told me to be amicable as this was not your country, and you are on the wrong side of the law by being on a visit visa. However, I decided to go to the police and seek help.
When I went to the police, they were quite helpful. They understood the situation and rather than going by the law the officer picked a call to the firm where I was working and told the owner that they would blacklist them if they did not give me my passport back!
Fortunately, good sense prevailed, they gave me my passport back, I exited the country and came back again. When I returned back again to UAE, I joined a very well-known company – Easa Saleh Al Gurg group as an Internal Auditor.
Relocating To India Only To Return To Dubai After 6 Years
2007. After working in Dubai for almost 2 years, I returned to India. These were for purely personal reasons.
While still in India, I did my Masters in Business Finance which helped me in my transition from an Internal Auditor to a hardcore Finance guy which made me much sharper in Finance. The transition from Internal Audit to a Finance role changed everything for me.
I worked in India for 6 years and even after doing everything I realized - I wasn’t getting enough time for my family. On most days I used to leave for office as early in the morning as 8 and come home by 10.30 in the night! So technically, there was no family life. Saturdays were also working.
2013. And I would continuously compare my life in Dubai and in India. Finally, after working for 6 years in India I decided to move back to Dubai and start my career in Finance.
When I came here during my second stint (after working for almost 6 years in India), I joined as a Finance Controller with a company in Abu Dhabi before moving to my current company - The Total Office. From 2013 - to date I have grown a lot in my career and being able to add a lot of value to the various organizations I worked for.
To anyone reading this… the only thing I would advise is: Be Brave! Take that risk! Move to a new city if you want to! Let the city guide you!
"Should I take a job with a salary lower than my expected salary?"
Firstly, when you come to the UAE, come on a visit visa for at least a month (though 3 months would be ideal). I know you will have to quit your job back home but trust me it will truly be worth it once you find a job here.
Once in the UAE, do the basics - Get a sim card, be active on LinkedIn, put your CV up on various job portals.
Your reach is the most important. So if you plan to come for 30 days one of the most important things is - You cannot just sit at home and expect opportunities to knock at your door. You have to network and meet as many people as possible.
Once you get interview calls and get selected, you might be in a situation where you have to compromise a little on the salary front because you do not have UAE experience. So, in my opinion, if your UAE salary is twice that of your Indian salary, you start with that. It will help you survive here. Also, you can try saving a little. Then you can start building based on that.
Because once you get through the initial two or three years then you will land up with better opportunities. And with the right approach and mindset, you can surely achieve a lot in the UAE.
“I have landed an interview call. How should I prepare?”
Before attending any interview, study the company. You should understand the industry of the company, what IFRS will apply to them, what revenue challenges will they have, the possibility of having cash flow challenges, etc.
So if you know the key parameters, you could monitor those correctly and if you can talk it out in the interview; then you have a great chance to land the job opportunity.
#WhatIDid: I did my research really well and went into the interview and genuinely shared how I could help the company with whatever little knowledge I had! That is when the other person was convinced that if my limited knowledge could be so good then I could really end up doing a lot more when I would actually join the organization.
And the moment you get a chance, it is for you to prove to them that they made the right decision by hiring you.
"What are the opportunities in the UAE for CAs?"
Chartered Accountants typically are considered to be Accountants, however, I would say Accounting is the least a Chartered Accountant could do.
Internal Audits are quite vital in the UAE because business owners want to ensure that their processes are working fine and their business managers are doing the right thing! So great scope for Internal Audit.
There are also a lot of other roles like – Business Analysts, Price Analysts, Finance Analysts, Investment Analysts, and so on.
Now with VAT, there is a great need in this space as well. Companies also hire professional Cost Controlling professionals who are mainly Chartered Accountants. So, the scope for Chartered Accountants and even semi-qualified CAs are endless. It all depends on your ATTITUDE and APPROACH.
A lot of people don’t even try moving out of their comfort zone. I genuinely believe that - If you explore the world, there is a lot of value placed in learning, a lot of learning placed in traveling and a lot of value placed in exploring something different. So, it makes sense to try and explore newer things.
And you become a much better person and develop a better personality as you move, migrate, travel and go to another city or country and choose to work there.
I chose Dubai because it is a very diverse country with people from almost 200 different nationalities...And this is the place to be in!
So, what’s your next plan? When are you planning to set up your bright and successful career in Dubai?
Presently I am working with a well-known company called The Total Office LLC, Dubai as a Finance Director. We have offices all across the UAE. My role includes - managing the company's cash flows, profitability, compliances and controls, etc.
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