ACCA Careers - Gaurav Vaidya Interview in year 2012
1. Could you give me an outline of your current role and responsibilities? (in 2012)
Currently, I am working as a Business Analyst, in Johnson & Johnson Ltd (J&J), a US MNC well known for its Baby products. My current role is mainly in areas of management accountancy and SOX Audit which include:
Monthly closing of activities to set deadlines,
Review of various Income, Expense and Accrual accounts
Desktop Account Reconciliations
Price edits master
In addition to above, the following roles done as requested by senior management from time to time and as per annual statutory requirements:
Preparation of various reports as requested by the regional office in Singapore from time to time
Head count reconciliation report for management reporting and regional office in Singapore.
General Ledger Tie Outs for SOX reporting and compliance.
Preparation of SOX Test scripts and testing of various cycles as per guidelines laid down by the company and as required by the regulation.
Preparation of details as requested for Statutory Audit, in which the management reports prepared are modified to suit the requirements of statutory auditors.
2. Which element of your job gives you the greatest satisfaction/ do you find most interesting?
The wide range of activities done and reporting to strict deadlines in large MNCs like J&J, is a great learning experience for any employee. The tracking of various expenses, provides a bird’s eye view to the senior management, of where the company is positioned as compared to the budgets and what actions or decisions needs to be taken.
Further, it is once in a lifetime experience to be working on 5 different ERPs like SAP R/3, SAP BW, BPCS, SAP Business Planning Tool, and BRAVO in one company at the same time and submit data to specified timelines.
3. What changes have you implemented in the business and what impact did this have?
Since I mainly work in management reporting, we as a Finance team have implemented various measures to ensure that the top management gets as much relevant information as possible in a bird’s eye view. We have ensured that the major expense analysis reports are redesigned to provide the best possible analysis for management decision making.
Also, modifications in SAP for proper data for price changes was made to considerably reduce time required for analysis and control.
4. What obstacles/challenges to your career progress have you had to overcome, and how have you achieved this?
I may say that the challenges faced in India are two fold – firstly, in studying for ACCA and another, in career progression.
The decision to go for ACCA after completing graduation was the most important decision made at that point of time. ACCA is not that well know in India. However on researching ACCA on internet, I found out that ACCA is much more forward looking and progressive in updating the syllabus to current environment. It was evident from the IFRS variant for accountancy and audit as well as local variant for tax and law. So I felt ACCA really gives international mobility, and went ahead with it. I feel that ACCA will become the most sought after international qualification in the days to come, may be even in India. However, passing ACCA exams from India by self study method is a difficult task.
Since ACCA is not that well known in India, getting the first job was also a challenging task for me. My first job was in a mid sized audit firm in Mumbai as a trainee, where I had to explain to my superior the value of ACCA as an international qualification. However, my ACCA qualification was better recognized in my current company J&J, as it is an MNC with regional office in Singapore. Thus I feel ACCA has better job prospects in MNCs rather than in small Indian companies.
5. What is your ultimate career aim?
Well, my ultimate career dream depends upon whether I decide to stay in India or abroad.
I would like to lead a shared service or outsourcing company in India, where my ACCA qualification can be better utilized and valued.
Alternatively, I am also considering a more self oriented business in teaching industry, where I intend to provide high quality, technology driven coaching to prospective ACCA, CIMA students, irrespective of where they are located in the world, at very competitive rates.
Finally, migrating abroad always remains an alternative career goal for any ACCA.
6. What skills/ advantages do you feel ACCA training and qualification gives candidates?
I feel that the ACCA qualification is a passport to a new world of opportunity. As a global body for professional accountants, ACCA offers you much more. More than just a good reputation, More than worldwide influence and career progress in any organization, ACCA offers you the world! The ACCA is the only truly global accountancy qualification with members in 170 countries and a global program that tracks the needs of industry and employers around the world. The various MOUs by ACCA are useful in international mobility and career progression of its member.
Though ACCA qualification is mainly based on international accounting standards (IFRS), it also offer adapted papers in financial accounting and auditing, and papers that test local law and tax. So you can feel confident that you have a globally recognized qualification that is relevant locally too.
ACCA offers choice of specialist options papers tailored to career needs of each individual. Students have the opportunity to choose between various papers, which is unique to the ACCA qualification. Students can choose papers in the subject areas in which they are working currently or aspire to work in future.
ACCA is the only accountancy body with a mandatory professional ethics module as part of its exam syllabus. This becomes more important as the profession moves towards strengthened codes of conduct, regulation and legislation - with an increasing focus on professionalism and ethics in accounting.
The versatility of the ACCA qualification gives you the power and freedom to choose your own career path in accountancy, business and finance. It gives you the transferable skills you need, so that in the long-term you can apply for finance roles in any sector, in any business, anywhere in the world. It comprehensively covers the technical and management skills, accountants are expected to master. ACCA qualification exams are not just about theory – the exams are based on practical case studies.
ACCA's flexible approach equals freedom. The ACCA qualification has flexible entry requirements, and offers flexible study options, enabling studies to be planned around business needs. The qualification isn't tied into a particular training contract and exemptions for a relevant degree mean fewer exams to sit. The breadth of the ACCA Qualification makes it the perfect platform to launch any business career, and you will have the opportunity to acquire technical skills that employers are now demanding to steer the business through these volatile times, without pigeon-holing yourself for the future.
7. What qualities do you look for in candidates when recruiting?
Apart from educational qualifications and relevant practical experience, one would look for a candidate who is hard working, who can work to tight deadlines, self motivated, willing to learn new things, having effective communication and IT skills etc.
Now-a-days, professional ethics is also gaining prime importance while selecting the right candidate.
8. What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your career?
Well, currently I am at the beginning of my professional career.
As a student, one learns many subjects. But ultimately in a career, one gets specialized and uses only part of the knowledge acquired. Also, practical or hands-on experience is equally important as academic knowledge.
9. What advice would you give someone looking to make their next move in your sector?
I work in the finance sector of manufacturing industry. As Indian middle class is growing at a rapid rate, the scope for FMCG companies in India is very good. However, the competition from Chinese companies should not be overlooked or underestimated.
In general, FMCG industry in India is a recession-proof industry. So the risk-reward ratio of taking a job in manufacturing industry is favourable. However, one should not expect astronomical incomes, like that in investment banking sector.
10. What are the challenges facing the manufacturing sector in India?
The major issues facing manufacturing sector in India are as follows:
A major impediment faced by new entrants relates to procedures associated with starting a business in India. There are numerous procedures involved in starting a business, beginning from presenting the name of the company for approval to the registrar of companies (ROC) to registering for employees’ provident fund and medical insurance and so on. While these procedures are necessary and must be put in place, the time required to cover these procedures can be reduced. Moreover, high start-up costs are a major impediment to starting business in India.
Apart from stringent entry barriers, entrepreneurs also have to deal with very complex and dysfunctional exit barriers. This has significantly impeded the entry of new players into Indian manufacturing. Also, a careful review of the existing procedures is needed and redundant procedures weeded out.
Labour Market Rigidities:
Compared to other developed as well as some developing countries, companies in India find it relatively difficult to hire workers, with suitable knowledge and skills. India is even more rigid when it comes to firing workers. There is a need for a law that allows employers greater flexibility in hiring labour in line with the specific requirements.
Emerging Skill Constraints:
The competitiveness of the Indian manufacturing is heavily dependent on the availability of a low-cost skilled workforce. In recent years several industries are experiencing an increasing shortage of skilled workers. To meet this demand, there is a need to undertake significant reforms in the education sector.
It is now widely recognized and commented upon that the manufacturing sector in India suffers from a severe infrastructure deficit. Given the constrained fiscal space, these resources cannot come only from public investment. Hence the strong emphasis is given in recent years to promoting public-private partnership and for creating necessary regulatory framework for facilitating private investments in infrastructure development.
Foreign Direct Investment:
FDI not only brings capital into the country but also advanced technology, know-how, managerial expertise, global marketing networks and best-practice systems of corporate governance. Thus there are considerable spillover effects that work through supply chains and spin-offs, which will facilitate the transition to mass manufacturing. In India, inspite of liberalization of economy, the flow of FDI has not been very encouraging. The issues related to FDI need to be addressed urgently for India to undertake a successful transition to mass manufacturing.