Financial Analysis backed by the power of data crunching gives the edge that organizations need to compete in the business world today.
Abhishek Bose, our next pathbreaker, Financial Analyst at Bata India, works for the E-Commerce segment of Bata India with a focus on business intelligence.
Abhishek talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about qualifying his Chartered Accountancy and working at the intersection of data science and financial due diligence.
For students, CAs are expected to know the health of the business based on the financials of the company, and with data everywhere, there are a lot of insights that can be gleaned for strategic decision making !
Abhishek Your background?
I was born and raised in New Delhi. My father retired from Mother Dairy as a Senior Marketing Manager, and my mother is currently working as a lecturer in a Govt School. My elder sister who is a PhD in Environmental Management from the University of Berlin, is currently working as a Senior Manager in a clean energy-focused startup based in Singapore.
During my school days, I wasn’t a topper per se, though i used to have a feeling of overconfidence that i wouldn’t fail even if i didn’t study. This thought was rectified promptly by the rudest awakening I got while pursuing my chartered accountancy.
I was just about regular in my studies as I figured that should be enough. I took a particular interest in computers as it was the new thing at the time which luckily came naturally to me. I remember my school had a computer class where we were taught HTML webpage creation etc. I used to complete the work as soon as possible and then play a pinball game called “Space Impact” on the computer to the annoyance of my teachers.
Later on, I joined the football team of my school, won a few tournaments as well and then started grinding books like most middle class kids do from 10th class onwards. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in my career. I just had a basic idea of doing something related to accountancy or computers as both came easy to me.
What did you do for graduation/post graduation?
I decided to pursue Chartered Accountancy along with B.Com from Delhi University via distance education as I had to attend classes from 6 am till 9 pm for my CA exams. Upon clearing my IPCC group 1 exams, I was eligible for an Articleship of 3 years under a practicing CA. So I joined a CA firm based in Connaught Place, Delhi. While it gave me vital professional experience, it affected my IPCC group 2 exam preparations.
I also cleared my Diploma in IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) from ACCA along with my CA Finals. Recently I got a PG diploma in Data science from IIIT Bangalore via Upgrad.
What were the key influencers that made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?
I had a mentor who worked with me while I was preparing for my CA Final exams who guided me through my professional career. He suggested that I have a few other options as it is a very competitive market out there for a newly qualified CA.
I was advised to apply for the campus placement in Kolkata instead of Delhi as I stood a better chance of being shortlisted there.
I was shortlisted by a few large companies, but I picked PwC SDC (Service Delivery Center) as my first job as the profile of M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions) was very exciting. I excelled at work there & was recognized for having a knack for data analysis.
How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Or how did you make a transition to a new career? Tell us about your career path
At PwC, I worked as part of the US-West coast team where projects were outsourced to us from the US teams. This is very common practice among the Big 4 firms as the human resource here is highly qualified and the foreign exchange rates makes it a cheaper alternative.
My work in M&A comprised of the financial due diligence, the sort of back end work which is required for senior partners & the company’s management to facilitate the Buy side (fund managers) or Sell side (investment banks) valuation of the company.
As data is gathered for every thing that we do in the present age, it become necessary to analyze the financial data of the company to ascertain the right valuation of the company.
CAs are expected to know the health of the business based on the financials of the company. However, financial due diligence comes at a later stage, because first we need to gather/ clean the data and extract meaningful insights from the data to present it to the management.
The majority of the sell side projects that came to us involved creating a flatfile from the data exported from the accounting software of the company using Alteryx, a data wrangling tool. We can achieve the same using power query & power pivot. We then create a data model using the flatfile & create the historical & projected financials for the target company.
Lastly, we add comments regarding the performance of the company for management discussion.
Most of the buy side projects would involve getting the statutory financials filled by the company & creating the quarterly & yearly financials from the information along with the comments on the performance of the company. These projects were very interesting as the US laws dictate that the board of directors themselves comment about the historical performance of the company which gave me the diverse knowledge on how different companies work in different sectors of the industry.
Unfortunately I had to move back to Delhi due to some medical issues in my family, and so I took up a job as Financial Analyst in Sarens Group in the KPO dept as there weren’t any job openings in M&A in the NCR region at that time. And then the corona pandemic happened…. Now in hindsight, I realize that the timing of my moving back to Delhi could not have been planned better.
At Sarens, I was firstly involved in month/year end reporting of the financials for Korea & Thailand, then moved to reporting for Australia, & finally to reporting for multiple entities based in Africa for the Sarens Group. This role was a bit less data science oriented & more CA oriented in nature.
However the presentation we had to prepare for the senior management involved the extensive use of excel for drilling down the financial performance for the entities.
I had an urge to move back to a more data science oriented role. So while working in Sarens, I got my PG diploma in data science which was a sort of certification of the work I did in PwC and soon I was shortlisted for an interview for a job opening in Bata India where i am working currently.
How did you get your first break?
For the articleship training interview, I got my CV circulated among my neighbors & relatives for any openings. CAs are expected to do a 3 year articleship training which at times sets us on the path for the rest of your professional career. In my case I got 70% in Internal audit, 20% in Statutory audit and 10% in Tax audit.
However, in case you can prove your knowledge in other affiliated domains in the interview you can get the job which is what happened in my case during the PwC campus interview. Confidence & knowledge can literally open doors.
In recent times I would definitely recommend working on your linkedin profile. You never know which recruiter might view your profile in private mode. Also, altering your CV as per the job description for which you are applying gives you an edge over the other candidates.
My first actual break would be the PwC job I got through campus placement where they were puzzled why someone from Delhi is coming to work in Kolkata as it usually happens the other way around. I convinced them that people move, which is nothing new and I being a Bengali will be able to blend in easily.
What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you address them?
No challenge per se, apart from navigating the cut throat job market. I faced this by diversifying my skill set to get a competitive edge in the market. I think of challenges as positive for growth. Greater the obstacles, greater the satisfaction once you overcome them.
Where do you work now? What problems do you solve?
I currently work in Bata India as Deputy Manager Financial Analyst where my work is focused on the E-Commerce segment of Bata India.
Skills needed for the job would be data analysis, advanced excel including power query & power pivot, data visualization using business intelligence software such as Power BI or Tableau, and excellent command over the accounting concepts, IFRS to be precise
What do you love about this job?
What I love about this job is the on the fly solutions I have to come up with for any issue which could arise in the data I work with.
How does your work benefit society?
I am basically doing what my skill set is most aligned with. Everyone has to make a choice sometime in their career between money and passion. I am among the people who are blessed with working in a job which is at the intersection of the 2 choices like the common portion in a venn diagram.
Your advice to students based on your experience?
Everyday, it is not about getting better than others, it is about getting better than what you were yesterday. Learn something new everyday either by reading a book or watching a documentary. By doing this little by little you will build a repository of useful knowledge which could be applied in any situation you might encounter. Lastly, be of service to people in need & don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
I would like to grow in my field and start doing some social work on the side if i ever get the time
In case any students need any sort of advice feel free to reach out on my linkedin or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org