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Can you imagine opting for a different career option when your career as a Chartered Accountant is at its peak?

CCI Team 
on 18 November 2019


Meet Abhinav Goel a qualified Chartered Accountant who cleared his CA in first attempt, worked in one of the big 4 firms and Google, held the position of Vice President in Finance at American Express and eventually gave his safe, secure and high paying job to follow his passion. He is now running his own organization which focuses on enabling students to build their leadership skills.

abhivav

Sky is the limit for him. Abhinav's career in Finance was progressing and running very smoothly. He worked for about two decades in this field. After working for 20 odd years Abhinav realized that there is something else that could offer him more contentment in life. Finally, he decided to go out of his way, experiment with new things and explore new opportunities. Not only he took a sabbatical and went to Boston to study leadership but is now pursuing his hobby as a profession. He has also authored two books.

Presently Abhinav is running his own education Start-Up. His organization delivers life skills programs and leadership skills programs in school as well as he works with corporate organizations - especially with young managers and young leaders to help them understand what it takes to be more successful when it comes to their life and career.

My Journey to Becoming a Chartered Accountant:

I am a 97 batch CA. Thankfully I cleared all my exams in the first attempt. Then I started my career in KPMG as a Senior Associate. Then finally I moved to American Express where I spent most of my career in their Finance Back office. I started there as a team leader then became a director in Finance and then eventually a Vice President. With American Express I have had 2 different stints - I worked with them for 5 years, then left and worked with Google for a couple of years and then I came back to American Express in 2011. There, I worked for the next 7 years. That was my professional journey as a Chartered Accountant.

Eventually, I was leading a very large team at - American Express managing  pretty large global processes, transaction process, migration, excellence, automation, control, and compliances, pretty much the entire gamut of activities that a leader would have to deal with and then 3 or 4 years ago, I started thinking about the next phase of my career because I had worked for 20 odd years and then I was contemplating about what would give me more contentment and help me find more meaning in the work that I did and then I realized in my entire career what I excelled at or what I really enjoyed doing was leading people and shaping organizational culture, helping leaders develop into better leaders and finding more success - that was really my core skill. I was also an accountant but it was the people and office side that I enjoyed more. About 4 odd years ago, I started getting my certifications as a leadership and as a life coach, I got a life coach certification from international coach federation and I also got a certification from the famous Marshall Goldsmith who is among the top 5 leadership coach in the world and also from Jack Canfield who is known as America's number one success coach. So, while I got these certifications I continued to experiment with all the skills that I wanted to experiment with. For e.g: in 2016, I wrote my first book which was a fiction novel, then earlier this year, I launched my second book which is around personality development and life transformation. Earlier this year I left American Express to become a full-time mentor and a speaker. Right now, my work essentially involves working with school children where I work with them to deliver life skills program and leadership skill programs in school as well as I work with the corporate organization - especially with young managers and young leaders to help them understand what it takes to be more successful when it comes to their life and career.

I wanted to become a Chartered Accountant because I thought life would be easier that way:

When I was in class 10th or 11th, like all the youngsters I had to decide on what would be the best career to opt for. I then thought that Commerce might be the best option. I had a couple of Chartered Accountants in my family - I used to look at their lifestyles and thought that if I become like them, then, I would have a good life too. That's when I decided to go for this field. That's not the right way to do it but that's what I did. That's what most of us do, rather than deciding what we want to do we end up deciding to become like people around us. So my career as a CA  offered good career growth and that allowed me to influence a lot of people along the way. But it took me a long time to eventually realize that my true calling is working with people rather than working with books or ledgers.

The difficulties that I faced while making my decision to pursue my hobby as my profession:

It was a difficult decision to make and I tell people to be very careful when making these kinds of decisions. The most important thing is to first find out, what is it that you really like doing, what you are passionate about. Like In my case, I knew that I was passionate about working with people and influencing them. The second thing that you have to understand is - are you really good at doing it or how can you get good at doing it? That's what I did in the last 3 odd years, I got all of those certifications, wrote books, conducted workshops, etc. Eventually, you will have to create an alternate revenue model - you may be really good at something, you might love doing it but if you can not make money doing it, economically it might not work. For me, I spent the last couple of years building this business model and now I am working as an entrepreneur. I did all of this work in the background in the last 3 or 4 years. I actually prepared for it for a very long time. It's not that one morning I woke up and decided now I am out. I prepared for it for a very long time. It's not a very easy decision - to leave a safe, secure and a high paying job and set up your own business. It's a process that I am going through right now. But, it's a journey that I am totally enjoying and I strongly urge people to look at how can they convert their passion or hobby into a more meaningful professional occupation.

 

My learnings from the famous Marshall Goldsmith:

Marshall Goldsmith is one of the top five leadership coaches in the world and his methodology of coaching was very distinct. Marshall says that you improve when the people around you say that you have improved. His entire coaching methodology is based on perception management and that's something which most of us struggle with. In corporate organizations you must have heard that most people say that I am not a bad person but my perception is poor. Marshall helps you understand that your perception is the reality that you have and how do you manage that perception is your responsibility. The coaching methodology is based on how I as a coach should understand somebody's perception and what actually do they need to do to change that perception so that people who look up to you may look differently. People start to have more faith and confidence in you. It's a very unique method of coaching which is very different from other coaching classes that I have attended.

After completion of my certification courses I started with my mission to train one million children:

I have been working with children from quite a while now, I have been conducting workshops with them. Something which I have realized was that the education system today puts a heavy focus on results and not much attention is given to the real world, real-life issues. I am a father of two teenage children and I think the kind of issues that they have to deal with is because of the changes that our society and economy are going through today. There are new careers which are coming up and old career options are becoming obsolete. Children have to deal with all of these issues right now it is very stressful to deal with it. Also, incredible amount of information is being pushed towards children - either through books or the internet or television. At such a young age, if we do not help them become self-aware, a lot of children start absorbing information which will not be healthy or good for them. I have created a multi-year curriculum for life skills and leadership skills which didn't exist before in the Indian education scenario. What my curriculum allows me to do is - to work with the children over a long period - 12 months or 24 months. During this period, we can help children become self-aware, help them understand their emotions better, help them understand their priorities, their belief system, when all of these happen, we all work with them in the second year of their program - on leadership skills like - public speaking, presentation, conflict resolution, personal branding, etc. 

So the organization that I have established is called I- Empower Learning. We are building up a team, we have started working with a lot of corporate organizations as well as quite a few schools now. So, that's what I am into now.

My message to the budding finance professionals

I would like to tell people that never stop learning. People should consistently invest in their personal growth - read books, join courses, get certification courses, keep enhancing your skillset because the world is changing so fast and you need to upskill or else you might become obsolete. Secondly, I would request them to build up the courage and come out of their comfort zone and do what they are passionate about because unless they do so, they would never know what their capabilities are. Two things which I always tell people - Learn all the time, get better and then take up a few risks in your life.

 

One message that I would like to share with the CA Fraternity through CAclubindia:

I think I am incredibly grateful to this fraternity. I am who I am because of this CA Fraternity. I just hope that we, Chartered Accountants could diversify our horizons and that could happen that could happen if we explore our true potential. One thing that disappoints me sometimes is that people look up to a Chartered Accountant as a money-making machine. They can do so much more for the society, maybe we are not able to articulate it or to express it, I think as a CA, we need to find ways to give back more to the society.


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