CAs in Marketing - MICA ft Shrikant Damani
In our endeavour to bring you people from varied backgrounds, today we bring an unusual yet a perfect combination between Finance and Marketing.
Shrikant Damani is a first attempt CA who then worked at Morgan Stanley for around 20 months before changing his career path altogether and did a marketing stint in an event company. He is already halfway through his MBA journey, which he is pursuing from MICA.
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If you were given a choice between being a small fish in a big pond v/s a big fish in a small pond, what would you choose? The answer, however obvious it may seem, isn’t all that obvious. For when you step into the pond, you realise that you are not the only kind of fish, or that this is not the only pond out there.
My name is Shrikant Damani. I am a Chartered Accountant (CA) with 18 months of work experience at Morgan Stanley, followed by a 6-month stint at an event-curation start-up, where I worked as a Marketing Associate. Currently, I am pursuing my Post Graduate Diploma in Management (Communication) at MICA. I am here to share my non-linear career journey and the learnings that came with it. So here goes nothing.
I qualified as a CA in May of 2016, after which I worked at Morgan Stanley as a Risk Manager for their proprietary platform (FundLogic SAS) that onboarded hedge funds, across Europe, Asia, and America, that were UCITS compliant. Now, I feel, some of you have mentally zoned out or are just plain intimidated by this flurry of unnecessarily big words that were thrown at you in the sentence before. I apologise. It was not my intention. I just wanted to give you a glimpse at what a person who has not heard any of the terms before, would feel like, after being bombarded by them, all at once. I was in a similar position in 2016 when I joined Morgan Stanley and was moved from the accounting team, to the Risk Management team.
The reason I bring this up is because most of what you will learn and what you will be paid for will be learnt on the job. Sure, education, training etc., helps, but they just act as an entry ticket to the amusement park that is the corporate world. All, rather most of the employable skills that one gains, is unequivocally learnt on the job. Period. Had I known this earlier, the switch from Finance to Marketing would have been an easier one.
Let’s look at some of the challenges that I had to face in making that switch. Also, since I have now made the switch, I figured it will be befitting to explain the hurdles through one of the first concepts that you are supposed to have a know-how of – the 4Ps of Marketing (a.k.a. Marketing Mix).
The term 'Marketing Mix' is a foundation model for businesses, historically centered around product, price, place, and promotion. The marketing mix has been defined as the "set of marketing tools that the firm uses to pursue its marketing objectives in the target market". Let us try and understand this concept in detail by breaking it down.
In order to make this article somewhat fun for me to write, and hopefully fun for you to read, I have taken a lot of creative liberties with the 4Ps of marketing. I hope the medium is the message.
Business /Firm – Me.
Marketing tools – Skills.
Marketing Objectives – Career objectives.
One of the first hurdles on which I tripped, while contemplating the switch, was who I was as a product. I was a CA, who was inclined towards pursuing something that involved more than just numbers. In retrospect, marketing hits the sweet spot in that Venn diagram of “What am I good at?”, “What society values?”, and “What have I learnt?”. But back then, I had no idea that most of the skills are learnt on the job, or that an MBA in marketing would be the right way to go. Furthermore, pursuing an MBA specialized in marketing became all the more important for me as I knew I needed something as powerful, academically, as a Chartered Accountant tag, and MICA seemed like just the right thing.
Create your own Venn diagram and try to figure out that intersection in the middle, whatever it is, pursue it.
Being a CA, and a Marwari, opportunity cost was a concept that I grew up with and then later on formal education gave a name to it. The price that one would have to pay to pursue an MBA would not just be the amount of fees that one would pay. The actual cost would look something like this:
Interest on loan (If, any) xx
Salary foregone for 2 years xx
More often than not the opportunity cost of the Salary that you will be foregoing for the 2 years while you pursue an MBA is overlooked.
Take into account the opportunity costs that you will be incurring because of the decision to pursue an MBA. This will help put things in perspective. Then, the metrics such as Return on Investment, Payback period etc., however myopic they may be, can be calculated accurately.
I was coming from a place of being a hardcore finance guy with little to no experience in the field of marketing. This was a big fear I faced. I wanted to ensure that the Venn Diagram really made sense and it is not just the burnout that I was facing from my hectic job at Morgan Stanley. So, I decided to put the theory to the test. After quitting my job at Morgan Stanley, along with my CAT preparations, I worked with an event-curation start-up called ‘Kasa Kai Mumbai’ as a Marketing Associate for 6 months. The skills, and learnings that I acquired on the job helped me realise that my hunch was right and I would be much more fulfilled in the field of marketing.
If you are planning to pivot in your career, and are not really sure. Try it out. Whatever that pivot might be, there are enough and more people willing to help you get a job and help you figure things out for yourself if you are willing to take that pay cut. Treat this as an investment – for if you like the new work, great, now you can pursue it; if you don’t like the new work, then at the very least you will be less miserable going back to that old job.
In my relatively short stint at Morgan Stanley, I was fortunate enough to make a series of leaps – vertical and horizontal. Due to which I was working with people way above my paygrade and qualification. Two things happened because of this. One – I was introduced to the marketing side of things within the financial world – wherein I learnt, again on the job, how a proprietary platform that provides a range of services is marketed to hedge funds. Two – It made it all the more difficult to walk away, all things considered. After this realisation, that marketing and finance can be combined in such a way, and that whatever I have learnt until then wouldn’t be a waste – it took me about a year to put my foot down and pursue that MBA in marketing.
If you feel strongly about a particular pivot, then don’t let your short-term losses outweigh the long-term goal. Just go for it.
In conclusion, the switch, however difficult it was, has been working out well so far, sans COVID. It eventually just boiled down to answering the question I had posed at the beginning of the article. Did I want to be the small fish in the big corporate pond of Morgan Stanley, or did I want to be the “Big Fish” in the seemingly small pond of MBA colleges. I chose the latter, only to find out that I am not even the biggest fish in my section, let alone my college. Regardless, it has been a fun journey so far and I am really excited/anxious to discover what the future holds for me.
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