I was inspired to become an accountant by my father, who was a UK part-qualified CIMA accountant, and both my grandfathers were involved in Hyderabad government finances. The unconditional job offer from Touche Ross (Deloitte) swung it. I’ve been working in industry for 29 years now, from SMEs to large corporates including BP, Lloyds Banking Group, Volvo Group, Renault and British Airways.
In my current role I manage four staff and am involved in a range of areas – tax, audit, statutory accounts, controls, risk, governance and compliance. I have also been an NHS non-executive director for the past seven years, which allows me to give back to society, and use my audit and accounting skills in a not-for-profit setting.
My most amazing experience was an audacious bid to rescue Co-operative Bank in 2017. I put together a management team and tried without success to raise £1bn. I visited India and the UAE and met many advisers in the UK and overseas. I had planned to downsize the bank’s main branches and put micro branches in Coop food stores. Without my MBA, ACCA Qualification and banking experience, I would never have put a bid forward.
The new imperatives are flexibility and life-time study
The most pressing issues today are automation, offshore accountants and systems that claim to be able to replace a qualified accountant. Over the years our role has become far more business adviser and partner. The new imperatives are flexibility, willingness to learn new skills outside of finance and commerce, and life-time study – it doesn’t end when you put away your ACCA books.
In 2017, I was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. I had been made redundant in 2016, and going through a protracted process of securing a new role in the organisation was very stressful. I had some counselling and decided to try something entirely different. I enrolled on a PGCE teaching qualification with my local university and retrained as a secondary science with chemistry teacher.
As for my next career steps, I am planning an initiative, pending FCA approval, that I hope will revolutionise borrowing in the UK for the financially vulnerable and disadvantaged. It is interest-free lending that takes the best bits of payday lending and buy-now pay-later without exploiting the borrower. There will be no interest, no fees and no charges.
I like to try new things, especially travelling to new countries, experiencing different cultures, and working in new companies and industries. I have visited, lived or worked in more than 30 countries across Europe – I lived in Lyon for two years with Renault Trucks – the US, Asia, Africa, Australia and South America.
I’ve been maintaining an allotment (badly and infrequently) for the last five years, and I’ve been a parish councillor for 10 years, a school governor and editor of our local community newsletter.