Kannan Arasaratnam on 2 Key Career Building Choices – Pt 1″

Kannan Arasaratnam, CA/MBA, is a strategic thinker with a quick wit

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In our interview he explained how building a personal network, and obtaining his MBA allowed him to advance his finance career

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Read the interview below to see the step-by-step process he undertook to get to where he is today

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1

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Why did you become a CA? I have had an interest in business for the longest time

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At some point around 12 years of age I lost interest in reading the comics section, and started to reach for the business section of the morning paper

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I knew that eventually I was going to go into business, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that would look like, or what the best way to get there was

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Both my dad and older sister were CA’s, and based on their advice and my own research, I decided that becoming a CA was a good route into business for the following reasons: (1) It would provide me with a solid grounding in accounting and financial analysis, which I believed would provide me with an edge against the competition; and (2) Working with and advising different companies would provide a variety of perspectives on best business practices, and also help me to decide which industry to focus on later in life

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based on their advice and my own research, I decided that becoming a CA was a good route into business…

For me the CA was a direct route into business

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Not only did I gain an edge in accounting and financial analysis relative to other paths, I also gained a sense of job security

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The CA was, and is, a prestigious, well-recognized designation and CA’s are viewed as sound business advisors

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CA’s are generally in constant demand and it was nice to know that there would always be various alternatives available to me as I progressed in my career

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In a nutshell, the CA designation provided me with a substantial foot in the door, either through expanding my network, a critical part of any attempt to accelerate your career, or through opening up interesting professional opportunities

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Of course, having a foot in the door doesn’t always equal success, but it certainly makes things easier

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the CA designation provided me with a substantial foot in the door…

2

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How did your decision to become a CA affect your choice of school? Once I had settled on becoming a CA, the choice of school became easy

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I chose Waterloo University because of its strong School of Accountancy program, which had a high pass rate for graduates writing the UFE, the CA final qualification exam

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Also, with Waterloo’s co-op program not only did you earn a paycheque along the way to help fund tuition, you also gained valuable work experience

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Typically, most co-op students worked for qualified CA firms and the 16 months spent in co-op employment counted against the 30-month work experience qualification period for new CA’s

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Additionally, by the time most students started employment full-time after graduation, they were hired as experienced senior accountants or managers instead of as junior analysts (as would have been the case without co-op experience)

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For these reasons, Waterloo University was the natural choice

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 I chose Waterloo University because of its strong School of Accountancy program, which had a high pass rate for graduates writing the UFE…

3

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If you hadn’t decided to be a CA what would you have been? Why? If I hadn’t become a CA I would have pursued an alternative path into business, likely either a Bachelor of Commerce or BBA for undergrad, coupled with an MBA after a few years of full-time employment

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Ideally, I would have still pursued consulting as an entry point in my career, because much like a CA designation, I believe it would have provided me with a solid grounding in fundamental business skills and enough variety in order to enhance my experience and resume

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4

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What were the key reasons for doing an MBA? At the time I was a senior manager in a professional services firm and I was on the partner track

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That said, I wasn’t 100% sold on becoming a partner and I was looking for something else to differentiate me from the competition, both within the firm and externally

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Internally, most of my peers were either CA’s, coupled with a CFA, CBV, or some other technical designation or certificate

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There were few MBA’s outside of the consulting practice and I felt this would provide me with an edge relative to my peers

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In addition, I felt an MBA would open up opportunities to me that weren’t easily accessible for CA’s, particularly roles in strategy, sales, marketing and investment banking

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 That said, I wasn’t 100% sold on becoming a partner and I was looking for something else to differentiate me from the competition, both within the firm and externally

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Join us Friday when we post Part 2 of Kannan’s interview where he tells you how to build a network and tells us all when we should feel “honoured”

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