Introducing CA Anand Shah, while most of us think CA to be the epitome of our career Anand has aspirations beyond that. He has cleared IPCC and CA Finals with an All India Rank, he has an experience of working with 3 of the Big 4 organizations and recently he has shelved another accomplishment, Mr. Shah has made it to IIM-Ahmedabad, which is one of the top-notch colleges in India.
"Whenever I saw the institute while passing the Vastrapur Overbridge, I used to tell myself that one day I will make it to IIM-A and the day has come", wrote Anand on his LinkedIn Post when he broke the news about his selection in IIM-A. Stories like this put our trust back in our dreams and aspirations. With this being said we all can light that fire within us which is long left to be kindled.
Legends say for once you can break the flow of the river but not the will of a dedicated human. Anand feels that professionals do have a social responsibility towards the nation, post his MBA Anand wishes to pursue UPSC as he wants to leave a social impact. In an exclusive interview conducted by CAclubindia, CA Anand shared his heartfelt journey through his career and dreams as well as his success mantras. He is an inspiration for everyone who aspires to a relentless life with no limitations. A human can only ever be limited by its vision and beliefs; here is an excerpt from CA Anand's life on how he handled the preparation and success.
"It was an awesome feeling indeed when I got the call from IIM-A"
Starting with a lighter note we wished to get acquainted with the emotions that Anand felt after he found out about his selection in the IIM-A. To which he replied, "It was an awesome feeling.......it is an awesome feeling indeed! Rather, I would say I can't describe the feeling using any permutation of 26 letters. This is because I never expected that I would get selected in 2020-22 batch itself. I had plans for doing coaching for CAT 2020 attempt, which is also the reasons why I had not filled forms for tier-1 colleges other than IIMs."
I always wanted to get into IIMA and my Facebook wallpaper was also 'Seedi Saiyad ni Jali' which is an inspiration for the IIM-A logo
Intrigued by the fact that a working professional who has worked diligently, first for the CA preparation and later worked with Deloitte, PWC, and EY and has now managed to clear the CAT for IIM-A in his first attempt; it was natural for us to enquire about his approach to CAT preparation and strategy. Mr. Shah shared his childhood aspirations of joining the prestigious institute along with the factors which he thinks helped him clear CAT-19 in his first attempt. His words were, "Yes, I did not take any coaching for the CAT exams. One of the reasons was CAT 2019 was my trial attempt for CAT 2020. It might seem childish but, I was a kid, always wanted to get into IIMA and my Facebook wallpaper was also 'Seedi Saiyad ni Jali' (stone slabs carved in designs of intertwined trees and foliage and a palm motif, which is an inspiration for the IIM-A logo). Hence, when I was in the 10th standard I used to solve CAT Quant questions because I liked maths. This could have built my aptitude for qualifying the Quant section. The third thing I think, which could have helped me clearing CAT this year, would have been my increased analytical skills and reading speed due to me doing self-study for my CA Final. There were approx. 10-12 thousand pages for me to read for last 6 months of studying. Analytical skills helped in DILR section and reading speed helped in VARC subject.
Approaching the IIM-A interview
There is more to just acing in the CAT exam in order to get into IIM-A, the interview for IIM-A is considered to be an aching task. Mr. Shah had already proved himself worthy of an interview call from IIM-A but how did he prepare himself for the interview. We turned the focus to this aspect of preparation and looked for some quality tips and experiences from him. To which Mr. Shah responded, "The first thing that I did after getting a call was that I looked for interview experiences on YouTube and Quora. They (interviewers at IIM-A) literally grilled the candidates. I was too much worried if they might do the same with me. I sat in an empty room for about 2 hours and thought of all possible domains from which questions could possibly come from. I noted down all the topics and started reading on a daily basis along with my stint at Deloitte Forensic. It was hectic because I had only 25 days to prepare for the interview from scratch along with this, I was also plotted on a high-profile project at Deloitte. Time management was difficult. But I somehow managed to read all the topics which I had listed. My chances of getting selected were higher given my strong profile. I would recommend students to sit in an empty room and predict all the possible questions that might come. To be honest even after all that any unpredictable question might just come."
"My end goal is to make a social impact"
With a strong arsenal of degrees and achievements ranging from qualifying CA, doing actuaries and now standing on the brink of starting his journey from IIM-A, Mr. Shah has more to him than just achievements. On being enquired about his future plans he spilled some beans regarding his approach to life and career, "My end goal is to make a social impact. I have not done a visualization for a clear roadmap towards what I want to achieve at the end. It can be by innovation of the new product to address a social problem by being in a business side, or by getting into UPSC to bring about a social change by contributing to the maximum of my capabilities. I never saw myself doing either CA, actuarial or MBA or even UPSC for the purpose of studying or for degree. I saw it as building my skillset for the specific purpose of making a social impact. This is the only thing which inspires me."
Was this 'the plan', all along?
Whether it was a plan all along to do CA, actuaries and then an MBA from IIM-A, is a question that the lingered our mind. While answering this Mr. Shah exemplarily showcased how different pieces of a puzzle fall into their places to bring out a beautiful picture, "Yes, I was very much clear since my childhood that I would give an attempt for CAT and go to IIM Ahmedabad. The reason for my actuarial studies was that I had an interest in mathematics. And over the period of time, I also found my interest in reading the concepts of financial economics, which were usually beyond the SFM of CA Final. Basically, they were derivation of most complex formulas of SFM like BSM but, I couldn't continue, not because it required dedicated efforts but I was doing my articleship then."
"......CA plus an MBA is one of the most-deadliest combination."
Talking professionally, the interviewer asked a question straight from aspirants' psyche, does an MBA degree open the gateway to better career options for qualified Chartered Accountants? Mr. Shah responded, "So many people told to me that CA plus an MBA is one of the most-deadliest combinations. They open opportunities like a front-end role in the top investment banks, strategy or management consulting in top firms across the countries. My reason was to be closer to the business side than the compliance side. Yes, in a nutshell it would be right to quote that MBA degree would broaden the gateway for better career opportunities in some domains post CA."
Life as a CA aspirant.
While taking about his story as a CA aspirant Mr. Shah went into details to recall and share his story, here is straight from the horse's mouth, "I started with my CA journey in 2015 right after coming out of school and along with my B.Com from HL CC. I scored somewhat good in my CPT and got AIR 16 in IPCC. At that time, I attended coaching from JKSC. Then after I started my internship with PwC, wherein I was into the stats audit of one of the biggest telecom companies of India. It was one of the best learning periods of mine. I learnt revenue, fixed asset process, various IFRS practically during that time. I did not join any sort of coaching classes for my CA final and depended entirely upon self-studies. Started from scratch during last 6 months of exam leaves and got AIR 12. I joined JK Shah classes test series and followed their weekly full syllabus exam schedule to accelerate my preparation also."
Life lessons and 'Mantras'.
Amidst the COVID crisis a lot of CA aspirants are baffled about their career and preparations on being asked to advise the aspirants Mr. Shah poured out his life lessons and personal formulas to handle stress and uncertainty, "I understand that continuous 6-7 months of study creates some sort of frustration in mind. I also understand that most of the students would have completed entire syllabus along with few revisions. Hence, due to extension of exams due to this, the options with the students could be to-
1. Start with the topics that have remained untouched during preparation. Likewise, I did not touch topics in Income Tax which are there after assessment procedure. I did those for the first time a day before my exam.
1. Refer bare texts of Acts or Ind As to boost your confidence.
2. Divert some of the efforts towards doing things which are your hobby.
I had also installed a punching bag in my study room and whenever I used to get upset, due to not understanding any topic, I used to do boxing with it for like good 5-6 minutes to release stress. You guys can also find something like that."
Message for the members of CAclubindia
Ending the interview Mr. Shah was wished best for his brilliant future following which he shared his message to all the members of the CAclubindia. He stated, "Any educational curriculum be it CA or CAT, it either wants to build a specific skillset in you to perform specific tasks, such as auditing skill for an auditor proud, or it wants to evaluate your aptitude for learning the skillset, like CAT evaluates whether a candidate is apt for MBA curriculum. I would recommend you that you should never focus on clearing the exams disregarding the skillset. Rather you should focus on learning those skills and you will sail through the exams for sure. I see that so many teachers make students ready for the exams by giving so many shortcuts. It's entirely my personal opinion that I don't see it as something that is right. Once again, focus on learning the skillset which is the crux of the course. Syllabus that you prepare for the exam is going to change, but you will never lose your analytical and interpretational abilities."
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