As a small child I saw my parents meticulously planning their finances. Even though they were not accountants, I was interested to learn more.

When I started my studies, KPMG in Sri Lanka provided me with the foundation to explore the profession, and helped me understand how accounting is the language of business. In audit we work with the numbers that result from a company’s operations. When I moved into the management consulting practice, I gained an understanding of the opposite perspective – how operational processes and procedures contribute to the numbers in company financial results.

Moving from audit to advisory was a big career move for me and a step out of my comfort zone

I was in KPMG Sri Lanka’s audit practice for seven years and the management consulting division for three. I have always believed that experience at a Big Four firm allows you to acquire knowledge and expertise at an unmatched rate, which why I have stayed with the firm for over a decade. My husband and I are planning a big move, and my first choice in our new city is to work for a Big Four firm.

Switching from audit to advisory was a big career move for me and a step out of my comfort zone. It meant a significant change in my work. However, I am glad I did it as I have learned so much about the operational and finance processes of businesses.

With the unprecedented economic crisis Sri Lanka is facing right now, clients are looking for ways to streamline their processes and be cost-efficient. They are also assessing the feasibility of potential new opportunities. It has been very interesting to improve business performance by being a part of the important decisions that clients make.

There should be strong whistle-blower protections and strict laws to foster accountability

Being a woman in the finance field, my biggest achievement so far would be my career progression. In the past decade, I’ve moved from audit trainee to senior manager at KPMG while switching from audit to advisory. In this I’ve been encouraged by a whole host of people – my parents, my husband, extended family, the leadership of KPMG Sri Lanka and colleagues – all of whom have wholeheartedly supported me every step of the way.

While there are many laws I would like to change, I would prioritise anti-bribery and corruption legislation. This has become a major problem in Sri Lanka and is the core reason for our economic situation today. There should be strong whistle-blower protections and strict laws to foster accountability. My next priority would be legislation related to climate change, as we need to address this urgently. I would also place importance on laws relating to women’s rights, in particular to education and freedom from violence. There should be an animal welfare bill, too.

What I most enjoy about my job is that it is unpredictable and filled with learning. Every day I perform a different engagement and find a solution. It has always been eventful with plenty of interesting challenges. 

I would have become a veterinarian if I had not become an accountant. I love being with animals and it’s amazing to see how smart they are and how they learn.

Outside of work, I prioritise spending quality time with my family. I love baking and cooking for my loved ones, especially creating and frosting birthday cakes. I really enjoy trying out new recipes.

* Since this interview was conducted, Niveditha Chandrasekher has relocated to Melbourne, Australia