Inspiration: I’m an Indian who’s lived in Dubai from 1991, i.e. since early teenage. I married whilst still doing my undergrad and had planned to complete the Indian CA Foundation course. However, I soon realized that going back to India to study wasn’t going to work out. I’d previously experience problems with long-distance learning whilst doing my undergrad course – this just left me confused – what would I do next? One day, (this was in the late 1990s), I was chatting on an internet chatbox (it was the thing then) I connected with someone who was working at KPMG Dubai. I immediately asked him if he is doing the Indian CA – My world was quite limited then and I wasn’t aware of any other equivalent professional qualification courses that one could do at the time from Dubai.
He responded that he is doing ACCA. I became curious and asked him more about it. He explained to me the basics of ACCA, how it works, how I can go online and apply and most importantly, how I can take exams and meet the experience requirements while staying put in Dubai.
Immediately I was interested and without any delay, I applied. We remained friends for a long time and he even shared even some of his ACCA books with me.
ACCA Journey: I completed my Undergrad in 2000 with the first rank in the University. By this time, I was already the mother of a two-month-old boy and I had also started studying for ACCA. With life going on there were a few gaps in me sitting the initial ACCA exams, but eventually, I managed to complete the course in 2004.
I was over the moon when I got a letter from ACCA in early 2003 informing me that not only did I pass but I was a global joint topper in 2 papers which meant I was invited to London to personally collect my awards with the tickets, visa and hotel stay for two days all sponsored by ACCA including a cash award.
As someone who has prepared for the ACCA exams entirely through self-study, this was incredible news. I can still vividly recall the day when I went to Emirates post in Al Wasl Road, Dubai to open the post box. I was intrigued when I saw an unexpected communication from ACCA among the mails, hence I sat immediately on the floor, put the other letters on the side and opened it, and what can I say, I WAS OVER THE MOON! What made it even more exciting was the fact that it was the first time that ACCA was inviting any overseas students for awards. If that wasn’t enough, I was the only student getting awards in two papers at the same time! It was truly an amazing experience.
I visited London in April-May 2003 to collect the awards along and was joined by my husband and son (who was a little above 3 years old at the time). The journey had its own share of drama, as we were unable to travel on the intended date due to some issues (which I’ll save for another time). We eventually landed in London and reached the hotel just a couple of hours before the award ceremony was about to commence. I also had the highest marks UAE- wide in some 5 papers or so.
I had consistently given two ACCA papers at every sitting (which were semi-annual at the time) and passed every one of them at the first attempt. I was due to give my 3 core papers in June 2003, but I had gotten to a point where I was really tired of self-study and was struggling to maintain the momentum. I deferred giving core papers till December 2003 to give myself a little more time. To be honest, I really wanted to attempt to get one of the 3 top medals. I eventually realized that it was a struggle for me to focus to the extent required to try for the medals and that I had to accept that the most crucial thing right then was to complete the ACCA exam journey. My marks were quite good, but not good enough to be a medal-winner – I still passed which was the main aim!
In 2004, I became an Affiliate, and eventually a Member and then a Fellow.
I am really honored that I am currently on the Members Advisory Committee of ACCA UAE. It is my greatest pleasure to support the ACCA Community in every way I can.
ACCA Community: ACCA is the corner-stone of everything that I have achieved career-wise. I had started working in an IT firm in 2002. Once I completed ACCA, I managed to get an interview at PwC Dubai. I joined there as an Associate in March 2005 and rapidly moved up the ranks to become a Senior Manager in 2010. I had my second child in 2012 and had a year-long career break around that. I became an Assurance Director in 2014. While ACCA gave me a strong foundation, PwC made me what I am. PwC gave the hither-to naïve me an exposure to the real world and its endless possibilities.
In 2016, I resigned from PwC and set up Nishe, an accounting and consulting firm. Leaving PwC was the single most difficult decision in my life. There were so many things that led me to it, but looking back, it was perhaps born out of a desire to experiment a bit with my life – something that I hadn’t been able to do until then. All my key decisions prior to that had been taken to deal with the situations that I was in. Or taken by someone else. Life was running me, not the other way around. And I suppose I was desperate for a change.
I am a believer that business should be a good force in society. I am also someone who gets bored fairly quickly and am constantly looking for challenges and new things. Hence, for me, it was important that I had a higher purpose to aspire to when I set up Nishe. As a woman who has been brought up in a society which constantly tells us that because you are a woman, you can’t, you needn’t and you shouldn’t, it is no surprise that I focused on women-empowerment. I wanted to -want to – demonstrate that we as women can, we need to and we should. Hence, I made Nishe an exclusive women-only firm. And I have to say it is working extremely well so far. I have a team of dedicated and caring women professionals who are a delight to work with. And now we also focus on hiring ACCA students and affiliates.
Special Mention: There are quite a lot of people who have influenced and supported me throughout my career. I can’t forget my internet chat box friend, nor another individual who used to supply me text books during my ACCA study period. My husband has always been a bedrock of support for me. At PwC, I met and worked with so many inspiring individuals.
Douglas O’Mahony and K Srinivisan are two PwC Dubai partners I extensively worked with and learned tremendously from. When I decided to set up Nishe, a piece of advice given by Amanda Line, head of PwC’s Academy, on entrepreneurship kept me going during the extremely difficult early days. I have been referred clients by many of my ex-colleagues at all levels – thank you to all of them. And I am absolutely grateful for the support and confidence that Fazeela Gopalani, the Head of ACCA, has shown in me, in nominating me as a Member of ACCA UAE Advisory Committee along with many “biggies”. In addition to being the ACCA UAE advisory committee member, I have also been recently nominated to the ACCA global tax forum. I am eagerly looking forward to contributing to the growth of ACCA and accounting community in every way I can.