Journey to Success | An Inspiring Story by Smitha Sailesh, Chartered Accountant | Game Changers

Kindly share a few words about your journey.

I did my Charted Accountancy course in Mumbai, after marriage I shifted to Bangalore. My first job was at a company in Bangalore. I was been appointed as the account head for two companies. Then after my son was born, about two years’ time I shifted to practice. I think that was the best choice I ever made because I could spend quality time with my son and my family. I started my own practice with whom I used to work part-time. Eventually, I started building my own practices and connections. Right now I have 21 years of practice.

Is this a field or a career that you chanced upon or choose to pursue?

I chanced upon my career because 25 years back, there was nobody to advise me, there were no professionals in my family to advise me about what career I should choose. I didn’t want to get into Science and Arts career so I was left with the only option to apply for Commerce. Once I entered the college I used to see a lot of people, especially my seniors going for charted accountancy courses. I started enquiring about it and I decided to try my luck at it. That was the only thing that inspired me to choose the CA course.

What inspired you to start your own firm?

CA’s basic job itself is an audit, taxation, and accounting. As I started enjoying my journey towards being a CA, the next concern was whether to work or to practice. Work as I said it was not giving me the leverage that I need to have.  I thought I should be better at being my own Boss rather than saying yes Boss to somebody else, which gave me a lot of confidence. The practice was the best option if given a chance to go back to a job or a practice I would rather choose practice only.

Your USP or your competitive advantage?

My clients tell me that they like to hear the advice from me, they say I give them the right advice. I am available to them whenever they need me. I have heard from my clients that recently three people shifted to me because their previous CA didn’t have time for them or to listen to them. I am a person who listens to people. Even though I don’t have a very big client line, I want to give the best services to the existing clients. So my USP is that I have time for my clients.

What are your goals and what keeps you going?

My goal is to increase my clients and to have a big company to audit. To give them the best service, increasing the client list is not the only goal, it is to even have time for your own clients. Only then they will start respecting your CA. I increase the client list little by little not too much at a time because I need to have time for my family also therefor I can’t devote 100% of my time to work. I am self-inspired if I have to do it.

What are the qualities required to succeed in your form of work?

First of all time management is important because in our type of work there are a lot of due dates. As a CA we have a lot of due dates of income tax, MCA, Ministry of Public Affairs files and GST files, therefore, you need to manage your time well. And we should also pay attention to all the details.

What do you consider as your greatest achievement in your career?

My biggest achievement is building my practice from 0 to 350 clients. It includes various sectors like private limited companies, partnerships, proprietorship, individuals, high network individuals and a lot of people I cater to. 

What are the most significant factors you consider while catering to your clients?

While catering to the client’s needs the most important thing is to learn about clients’s businesses, need to know what the client is into, how he operates, only then we can give them a solution for whatever they have come for. They come for various needs, it might be an audit or it can be various terms in charted accountancy. First of all, I try to understand the purpose they have come for, pay attention to all the details I need to know like what the company is into or the person is into. Only by studying their business I can give them a solution, advise them or give them whatever they have come to me for.

Who or what is that constantly inspires you?

What inspires me is my own self-motivation. I don’t get inspired by anyone. But I do get inspired by woman entrepreneurs who have achieved great heights in their life. I am also a family-oriented person,I can also maintain a balance between work and life.

What is the role played by your family in your pursuit of a demanding profession?

My family has been very supportive of whatever I do. During the year ending CAs become very busy because of the audits, taxation, and filing of returns. All those things start from June to September. It is the busiest time of the year and my family has been very supportive throughout. At home also my mother in law and my husband Sailesh support me. My husband is also a CA and he helps me at work sometimes. And of course, my son also gives me his small pieces of advice at times. They are my biggest support, without them I would not have reached where I wanted to reach today. If one doesn’t have that support from family it is very difficult to achieve their dreams.

How do you maintain work-life balance?

When you are your own Boss, you can decide the time when you want to meet your clients and they meet you depending upon your convenience.  In my case If I’m busy at home, I can ask them to meet me later. If my son needs me at home I manage to be available for him whenever he needs me. As I said I have a small number of clients and I give them the best service. That is the reason I maintain small clients so that I can be available for my family also. 

Is there one thing that you wish to change about your professional past?

If I was given an opportunity to develop my personality before I joined BNI in 2007 I would have been in a better place by now.  

What is your advice to young and aspiring CAs?

Leading a CA profession itself is a huge task. Once you become a charted accountant you just have a bookish knowledge but you don’t have practice. So the advice I have to give them is to choose whether you want to practice or work. If you want to practice you need to have a lot of patience as initially, you won’t get many clients. You need to have that patience to stick on, to work hard, to pay attention to all details and should have good communication skills. As I said earlier, if I have to go back to my younger self I would have changed myself. This is for all my aspiring younger CAs please communicate, come out of your comfort zone, network with more people and have a lot of patience. Have perseverance and patience if you haven’t practiced, the job is not an issue at all, go ahead and do it. But if the practice is your aim then you need to have all these qualities to be successful.

 

Click here, to watch Smitha Sailesh’s interview.

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