- Meet Yogesh Lakhani, a chartered accountant from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
- Yogesh was a Financial Controller in Manila, Philippines before he landed in Dubai, UAE without a job offer in hand.
- He took the job-hunting process seriously and diligently spent 10 hours a day sending applications to various companies.
- We are all skeptical about moving to the UAE mid-career, but Yogesh says that it’s never too late.
I was born in a small how called Veraval, in Gujarat, India.
Around 34 years back, one of our relatives came to our house, in his own car.
Curious, I asked him “What do you do?” And he replied, “Actually, I am a chartered accountant”.
As you can tell, that’s where I got my inspiration to become the same.
I studied in a Gujarati Medium School, hence my English was not that good. But I was so serious about pursuing CA, that throughout my final high school years I started mastering my English speaking skills.
I even moved to Mumbai to receive the best possible tuition for my CA course.
For my articles, I got into Deloitte, where I learned the fundamentals of accountancy through Auditing.
When I completed my articleship in 2005, one thing was clear; statutory audits did not interest me.
I left Mumbai to join a Vadodara-based accounting company where I focussed on risk-based internal auditing. I could help the management analyze where they were lacking in internal controls, or what kind of risks they were exposed to.
From Auditing to Finance: New opportunities
As I kept growing, I understood the job market and realized what I truly wanted to do.
In statuary or internal audit, we mostly inform the CFO or CEO of the issues present in the organization, but the biggest challenge lies in execution, closing those loops, and ensuring that those controls are working fine.
So one fine day, I told myself, “Okay! Now I’m ready to take charge of the other side of the table.”
I joined Banco Products India Limited, an automobile company with over INR 700 to 800 crore turnover.
Taking note of my enthusiasm, skill sets, and the name of a Big 4 company on my CV, the management put me in charge of finance and accounts. And, the moment they gave me managerial responsibilities, my happiness resurfaced.
I was to coordinate the entire cycle of ERP implementation. We were implementing SAP R/3, where all the functions such as R&D, costing, and production were getting integrated across the business. I was spending like 14, 15 hours a day in the office.
In the process, I learned how the organization functions.
The company also had subsidiaries outside of India which allowed me to work on multicurrency consolidation, international transfer pricing, and so on.
And to let you know, I have never said no to any type of work, however challenging it is.
Fast forward to 2018, Collabera Technologies, an IT Services and IT Consulting company offered me an opportunity in their Philippines office. It was a completely new opportunity for me, which I didn’t anticipate, but I decided to do it anyway. The Philippines seemed like a nice country to work in.
I joined them as their Country Head for Accounts & Finance. Apart from that I also looked after the HR, IT, and Administration Departments for 2 group companies in the Philippines.
The way Filipinos present themselves with extraordinary communication skills is remarkable.
I admire their quality of work and try to implement it in my day-to-day work.
The decision to start all over in Dubai mid-career
There is no doubt that I learned a lot while working in the Philippines, but I wanted our kids to grow up in the same kind of environment that I grew up in. It was a personal choice that I made as a parent.
A few of my friends working in the UAE suggested, “Why don’t you give Dubai a shot? Dubai is like the twin of Mumbai.”
When I discussed with them further, they all exclaimed ” You have a very good job profile, but the only hiccup is that you don’t have any experience working in the UAE.”
Usually in the UAE, they don’t recognize foreign work experience that much, resulting in a salary cut. But I was up for it and took a calculated risk eventually. I knew I would bounce back.
It’s worth mentioning that some of my friends were always there to support me throughout this moving process.
With a positive mindset, I landed in Dubai in 2019 on a 90-day visa... with no job offer in hand but with certainty that I would land one in three months if not earlier!
After 30 long days, I finally got job offers
I faced a myriad of challenges while moving countries.
First of all, I left Manila, without getting a guaranteed job offer from Dubai. I didn’t want to keep my prospective employer waiting while I was serving my notice period in my old company.
Since I was not doing any salaried job, the job-hunting process became a job itself. I spent 10 hours every day sending application after application to every possible company.
I did not get a single response for almost 30 days. I have two kids, various EMIs, and a family to take care of so you can only imagine the stress I was going through.
Fortunately, between the 31st and 40th day of landing, I received five job offers and decided to go with HLB HAMT. It is a part of HLB, a global network of independent advisory and accounting firms, headquartered in the UK.
Collabera’s Singapore office was a client of HLB Singapore. And I found out that accounting system implementation was going on across their entire department.
HLB offered many personal and professional benefits and we all know CA firms are one of the best places to work, in terms of job security. I joined HLB HAMT as a Manager for Accounts & Advisory.
Adapting to new technologies along with all those new compliances coming in, made this role much more interesting. It’s been three amazing years of working with them, but I also want to explore what more UAE has to offer.
In August 2022, I moved back to a Finance role and am now poised to join a German MNC ( in shipping and logistics industries) as their regional finance manager.
The concept of delayed gratification worked in my favor.
Job opportunities for CAs rise as tax gets introduced in UAE
When VAT got introduced in the UAE in 2018, it became mandatory for every organization to maintain their books of accounts.
Albeit a bit late, Corporate tax is going to be applicable from the 1st of June, 2023 onwards. It applies to any organization that operates under a license.
Now with these new regulations, businesses have to seriously think about a few aspects, such as logistics, supply chain, etc. Maybe they even have to reorganize their way of overseeing their supply chain, billing, and other areas.
Everybody will have to reconsider and shift their organizational objectives. A lot of people came here to set up businesses because of the zero-tax policy. Now that Corporate tax is here, the companies here have to decide which business structure is the best for tax purposes.
This is the time that every small, medium, and big size firm and company is hiring.
I believe that all the Indian chartered accountants are experts in direct as well as indirect tax.
Therefore, there is an extraordinary opportunity for finance professionals, particularly Indian chartered accountants or semi-qualified professionals in the UAE.
From my personal experience, I would say, moving to the UAE at an early age is always more rewarding, both in terms of job positions and remuneration.
If I would’ve moved here, right after I had qualified in 2008, I probably would be in a different position altogether, financially and professionally. But I never thought of going abroad, as I was looking after my ailing parents.
That said, it is never too late to change your mind, and explore different avenues.
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Disclaimer: This is all as per our research kindly do your own research. We do not assure 100% accuracy even though this content is very well-researched.