India-based Atul Gupta CPA (Aust.) has experienced first-hand the career advancement and travel opportunity rewards that can result from acquiring the CPA Australia designation.
Atul Gupta CPA (Aust.) started as Financial Controller at cloud-based field service and workforce management software company ClickSoftware Australia in 2009. Today, having long since played an integral role in establishing from scratch the organisation’s subsidiary operation in India, he holds the title of Vice President and Site Leader at ClickSoftware’s global delivery centre in Gurgaon Haryana, with wide-ranging responsibilities for the finance function across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.
In 2013, a year after Atul commenced his pursuit of the CPA Australia designation via the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and CPA Australia, he was promoted to Senior Director Finance APAC. Atul is in no doubt that the promotion was not a coincidence, or that the CPA Australia designation was arguably a factor in his more recent promotion to the position of Vice President and Site Leader.
CPA Australia and ICAI entered the MRA in 2009, and since then many qualified professionals such as Atul have benefited from the collaboration, with career advancements locally and internationally.
“While working in India as Financial Controller for ClickSoftware, I was given the opportunity to travel to our Australian head office and attend a finance forum,” Atul explains. “At the forum, I met senior finance professionals from different companies and most of them were CPA Australia members, which to me indicated how popular and powerful the brand is in Australia.”
While this is certainly true, CPA Australia is also one of the world’s largest professional accounting bodies, with more than 164,000 members working in 150 countries and regions across the globe. In India, for example, it works with over 30 Recognised Employer Partners to provide members with access to learning and development opportunities. Its mission is to secure a talent bank of future business leaders by helping people build a career based on exceptional professional finance skills.
Accordingly, in 2012, Atul decided to pursue the CPA Australia designation via the MRA to Associate (ASA) membership.
Building better business relationships
“Although Australians and Indians obviously work in different geographies, because it is so highly regarded, the CPA Australia designation definitely helps in business relationships with Southeast Asia and Australia,” he says.
“With the designation in hand, I was promoted to Director Finance for the APAC region, including managing the finance operations for my company in Australia.”
Atul believes the CPA Australia designation directly contributed to his promotion. “I was dealing with head office in Australia, as well as the finance people associated with the commercial organisations that [constitute] our Australian customers.”
The fact that he was a member of CPA Australia, along with the majority of those from the customer side, assisted immensely in facilitating ClickSoftware’s commercial relationships and managing its Australian finance operations.
New perspectives on strategy and leadership
Having joined CPA Australia via the MRA pathway, Atul undertook the Global Strategy and Leadership subject, which, he says, “helped me to look at a business situation not only from a financial angle but also from the overall strategic level.”
In India, accountancy literature is primarily focused on taxation and traditional accounting procedures, he notes.
“It certainly doesn’t cover Global Strategy and Leadership, but this is a subject that can give all India-based accountants a different perspective and insight into a different way of thinking.”
Quite simply, he believes an internationally focused mindset lends itself to approaching many situations differently.
“Global Strategy and Leadership is the perfect subject in order to obtain other perspectives on decision-making which are relevant worldwide, but which, perhaps, are missing in the local literature,” Atul says, adding that in the world of finance, specialised formal qualifications are essential to staying competitive with peers and, above all, updated on the latest industry trends.
Towards this end, he says “CPA Australia has a very strong network and puts in some really great efforts to connect its members with industry leaders”.
A key facilitator of this has been through its My Online Learning platform, but in India more recently Atul has noticed a significant broadening of emphasis.
“Up until last year the key focus was more or less on the online learning platform and CPA Australia’s [monthly] INTHEBLACK magazine, which covers a range of very good topics,” he says.
However, over the last 12 months, he has noticed an upswing in on-the-ground activity aimed at promoting networking, frequently via people from Australia and Singapore representing CPA Australia organising various business functions in parts of the country.
It is an aspect of CPA Australia’s operations that he would like to see grow, especially in the continuing professional development (CPD) space.
Shining a light on best practice
He considers CPD a major benefit of membership, not least because, as he has noted, Southeast Asia and Australia are very different regions insofar as their having very different finance practices.
“For example, Australia is much more advanced in terms of its taxation structures, so further developing CPD programs and other certifications would, I think, be hugely beneficial.”
For Atul, CPD is just another reason as to why he would not hesitate to recommend becoming a member of CPA Australia to other Indian finance professionals.
“For me, being able to gain a global perspective and knowledge has been particularly important,” he says. “The insights I have acquired into Australian taxation laws, such as the goods and services tax [GST], have certainly been very beneficial. It is so simplified when compared to other jurisdictions, and CPA Australia can provide you with a complete picture of how the economy, financial institutions, and taxation laws all work together.”
Importantly, he says his membership has not only provided insight into best practice in Australia but been a fertile learning experience in terms of how some aspects of that best practice could be applied to the financial landscape in India – something that will unquestionably bear Atul in good stead as his career in finance continues its rapid progression.
Find out how to become a CPA through our Mutual Recognition Agreement with ICAI
Disclaimer: This is a promotional story by CPA Australia and the liability for the same solely rests with them.