Making a career choice is definitely one of the most difficult life decisions. When exposed to a plethora of career options, most of us think, I can either become this or that. I cannot become both. The war that goes on in our mind between “What I want to do” and “What I should do” is gruesome. While making our career decision when we decide to opt for one option that means giving up on the other. But, do we really have to let go of the other option?
Someone who paints well and loves to teach. Why does he have to choose between painting and teaching? Why can't he just teach painting? Why can’t our passion be our profession and our profession our passion? With the changing time, career opportunities have also witnessed a massive change. And so do we need to change our outlook while making our career choices.
Meet CA Sonal Bhutra, a qualified Chartered Accountant, a Research analyst, and a TV Anchor. For some people becoming a successful Chartered Accountant is the ultimate goal of their career journey but for CA Sonal Bhutra it was just the start point of the race that she chose to run. From managing Balance Sheets to doing “Baatcheet” she excelled in everything she decided to do. CA Sonal was well aware of her interests and capabilities and smart enough to assess the possible career opportunities for herself. “I always wanted to be a journalist but at the same time, I really enjoyed finance.” says CA Sonal Bhutra when asked about her journey from becoming a Chartered Accountant to a successful TV Anchor. At such a young age CA Sonal Bhutra has achieved so much yet she thinks she is just at the tip of the iceberg. Sonal is currently working as a TV Anchor in CNBC, which is one of the most renowned business channels in India. And this is her story.
After lots of discussions, arguments, cold wars, I finally decided that CA is the way to go.
I always wanted to be a Journalist but at the same time, I really enjoyed finance. So, it was quite a tough call. My father always emphasized the importance of being a CA and how it is a course that opens so many opportunities for anyone. I had seen that in my family as well, my brother, some of my cousins, uncles, all of them are Chartered Accountants. Also, I am one of those who loves to study, so it was a general perception that I would be able to crack the course.
After lots of discussions, arguments, cold wars, I finally decided that CA is the way to go. I Appeared for CPT in June 2011, packed my bags and came to Mumbai immediately to prepare for IPCC. This was alongside graduation from HR College. IPCC went on swiftly; 9 months were hectic but a lot of learning. This is when I realized what my father meant by the opportunities and the learning that Chartered Accountancy has to offer. After I cleared my IPCC, I got an internship at Haribhakti & Co for a small period of time. But I knew that my internship has to be from a Big 4 and for some reason specifically EY. I kept pushing for interviews and then finally got an internship in the indirect tax division.
I appeared for my CA finals in May 2015 but I was taken aback with the results, I could not clear the first attempt because I did not do well in ISCA. Being the kind of person who only topped her classes, it was too much for me to take. But my family was the biggest support, they kept me going, my parents and my brother made sure that I bounced back stronger and that is what happened. 17th January 2016, I got my results and I was CA Sonal Bhutra. Yes, the feeling was surreal.
Soon I realized I could do finance and journalism together!
I was always interested in finance. How stock markets work, what induces the movements in stocks, was something that always intrigued me. So, I would keep reading, watch the news and this is when I realized that I could do both finance and journalism together and that is via business journalism and that is when I knew I wanted to join CNBC TV18. I promised myself that one day I will.
Well, I quit EY to join a journalism diploma with Xavier's institute of communications, I got into the college but then one day before I could join it, I was told by a senior financial journalist that I should get more exposure to markets rather than doing a course in journalism. That's when I started looking for a job into equity research and landed up a role in Motilal Oswal. It took a while and job hunting is quite stressful, that too something that is unplanned but things fell in place.
STAGE was my first Love
I always enjoyed public speaking in school, college and I was one of those actively taking part in group discussions, debates, extempore. It made me extremely happy, I would look forward to days I could go up on the stage and talk and discuss interesting topics. Then I thought, why not do it daily and discuss things which are of public importance and matter to people. Of course, it was easier said than done.
For a CA, entry into the world of journalism was not that easy.
I cannot tell you how many people I called for guidance and to understand the dynamics of the industry, my opportunities and how many times I felt that this looks impossible and I should stick to what I am doing as I was scared to fail. But something inside me kept pushing me to do it. Guess, I really wanted it. And people close to me made sure I did not give it up so soon. I was at a conference and the CNBC TV18 team was present there. I asked a few questions in the Q&A round and was noticed. I realized that since they are here, I should just go to them and ask rather than waiting for someone to call me. I spoke to Mr. Anuj Singhal, who is the editor of the stock at CNBC TV18 and he was very kind. He guided me and asked me to send my CV to him and voila! After 6 months I got an interview call from the channel. It was quite a big deal for me because I knew no one in the industry and somehow I managed to reach to the interview stage.
Working with CNBC was like a dream come true
When I first got the chance to work with CNBC it was incredible. Even that is an understatement. It was like a dream come true. The newsroom energy, the ticker, the quality of work, the passion with which everyone wanted to deliver the best content as far as markets and business is concerned, I was blown away. There was so much focus on putting out the right research that I was glad that I could be a part of the team and at the same time, I realized that this job comes with a lot of responsibility because it’s about people’s finances and hard-earned money.
I remember when my first session was aired. I was quite overwhelmed and the feeling had not sunk in.
It was sometime in June 2017. 2 months after I joined the channel. I did not immediately start as an anchor because it requires a lot of practice and at the same time, I was also focusing on equity research because that was very important and putting out good financial research is my primary role. My seniors, friends, and family told me I did a great job but I do not think I could watch it the day it was aired because I was quite overwhelmed and the feeling had not sunk in.
There is so much more to achieve
There is so much more work to do, so much more to achieve. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
I get extremely inspired by people who are very passionate, humble and want to give it back to society. Professionally, I am inspired by my seniors, Shereen Bhan and Latha Venkatesh as to how passionate and focused they are about their work. APJ Abdul Kalam has been my inspiration since I was a kid, his humility, intelligence and never give up attitude is something I would want to emulate. Ratan Tata and Azim Premji, for whatever they have done for the society, this is something all of us should do, be grateful and help the ones in need. Bigger hearts are really rare to find.
Financial advice I would like to give to the readers in this time of crisis
The times are so uncertain, it is very difficult to advise. One must take any decision wrt investments only after consulting a professional advisor. And yes, I hear so many people doubting the banking system: would like to say that this is not the case. The regulator has been saying that it is safe and sound.
My message to the members of CAclubindia:
One might think it's very common, but since I have experienced it myself, I just know that if you really want to achieve something in life, you should go for it. Never ever give up, work towards it continuously. One would fail, be disappointed but such experiences only make us grow as an individual. Also, failures never define who you are, in fact, they only make you stronger. While you work on increasing your IQ, do not forget EQ (Emotional Quotient) because managing yourself and people is not an easy skill. Also, never be scared to be yourself and just keep upgrading it to be the best version of yourself.
The interview was taken by Vaishali Dhek, Assistant Editor, CAclubindia.
Read these CA Stories:
Story of successful Chartered Accountant Abhinav Goel who left his well-paid job and became a leadership coach.
Story of Uma Krishna who became CA at the age of 51