Why does a CA go on to do an MBA?
After burying our heads in books for at least 4 years, have we CAs not had enough?!
What would motivate us to go for another two years of intensive work-load that an MBA offers?
Having posed this question to many CA+MBA combination holders (And being one myself), today we are featuring one such person on the blog - Umang Gupta.
Unlike usual posts where I type out an introduction of our writers to you guys, let’s hear Umang’s life story straight from his pen - or, well, laptop... (Hey, I never said I was funny)
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Umang, Why did you leave an amazing profile in a leading FMCG company to pursue an MBA?
This question has been asked to me repeatedly and from the widest set of people.
After a rigorous articleship, relentless hard work and sleepless nights during CA Final Preparation, on Aug 13, 2019, I became a CA with an All India Rank 3.
Having a top 3 rank, I easily managed to get into a leading FMCG company in a “finance management trainee” profile with a CTC that even the top B-school grads would envy.
My job profile was amazing, the people were awesome, the culture was good – but I still felt something missing – a quest to learn more and explore my passion and find my inner calling. I was sure that I wouldn’t be happy doing a traditional finance role for the rest of my life.
I wanted to explore other avenues like Investment Banking, Private Equity, and Consulting which are generally not available to a fresher CA, or even to CAs with some unrelated work-ex.
So I decided to write CAT and scored a decent ~95 percentile.
Again, my CA Final AIR 3 came to my rescue and I got a call from IIM Bangalore as IIMB has a special criteria of calling the top10 rank holders in CA/CS/ICWA.
Being a CA, answering the “Why MBA” question in the interviews becomes easy as MBA and CA go hand-in-hand and there is a lot of synergy between the two courses. The nexus is undeniable and it is mostly an easy sell.
CAs have strong roots in finance and an MBA is a natural route to look beyond traditional roles that a CA usually fills.
Now you may wonder - Will an MBA in finance teach me more about finance than the CA course did?
To be honest, I do not think it is the technical knowledge which gives the MBAs an edge over us for these profiles. It has to be the soft skills, peer to peer learning and the structured problem solving approach that an MBA teaches you.
And I feel like even the ICAI has started to recognize this! In addition to the mandatory GMCS courses, ICAI has also introduced a three week Management Development Programme (MDP) for CA Rank holders where the students are taught various facets of management by reputed IIM Professors.
The case studies based approach at the MDP Programme helped me immensely in my IIM Bangalore interview as I was already abreast of the teaching methodologies used at the IIMs.
I had a stellar interview and finally got selected at IIM Bangalore PGP Programme! Read my interview here.
Now I was faced with a bigger question – Is an MBA worth it ? I was already earning just as much as the top B-schools salary packages in my current job.
Clearly the opportunity cost for me was very high. Thinking solely in terms of money, an MBA wouldn’t make a lot of sense. Add to that the uncertainty of B-school placements due to the covid pandemic.
I interacted with a lot of seniors/alums and finally made up my mind to choose - “The Place To B” it was!
So, here are the top 5 reasons, in my opinion, why an MBA after CA is for you!
1. Break into Consulting or Core finance roles
Getting into Top Investment Banks and Consulting at the MBBs of the world becomes a lot easier through an MBA in a top B-school.
CAs are unable to get these opportunities in the ICAI Placement drives. These coveted jobs are generally offered to MBA grads from top B-schools.
Also, since I was very sure that I cannot continue a career in finance for the rest of my life, MBA was the best way for change in career domain for me
2. A boost to non-technical skills - Hello strategy, collaboration and leadership!
Although CA fine tuned my technical skills– (accounting, finance, law, taxation), I felt I lacked interpersonal skills.
The experiences in a B-school, including exposure in various clubs and committees hone your personality and mould you into the person that you become.
So, an MBA would complement my technical knowledge with superior communication and soft skills – making me future ready.
3. Network Network Network - Peers and Alumni
During the span of these 2 years, my network would grow exponentially.
The pedigree of people which a B-school attracts is unmatchable – you basically meet the best of the best – the cream of the cream crowd which forces you to become the best version of yourself.
The peer to peer learning which happens in a B-school is incredible.
4. Your shot at redemption and branching out
Simran says that not being a rank-holder did mean certain jobs were simply out of reach for her. I’ve heard similar sentiments being expressed by non first attempters.
An MBA is a shot at redemption – an opportunity for CAs not satisfied with their job profiles to get into a top B-School and change their career trajectory.
We have even started seeing CAs in the marketing domain now! Who would have thought that after CA we will get to be Brand Managers at leading MNCs.
5. Did I mention college life?
More than anything, I wanted to experience life at a college (which is generally missing in the CA course) - The late night group projects, the fun at college fests, the 3AM Maggi in the hostel, the random gibberish and gossips - I mean come on! Who wants to miss out on that?
Finally, I want to say - In the larger picture of life doing an MBA definitely makes sense for CAs who want to explore where the next 50 years of their life lies.
And more than just a career boost, an MBA is an experience that you cherish for the rest of your life.
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