I was 22 when I cleared my CA final examination and I still had to complete another 9 months of articleship (internship) before getting a job. Everyone advised me to look for jobs on the marketing, sales side, the “business generating side” in banks, consulting companies, insurance sector etc. not the audit or taxation side, because that’s not where the real money is. But I enjoyed auditing from the core. I did a lot of internal audit in my articleship and what pure joy I found in doing new audits every 2-3 months.
For those uninitiated, let me tell you : broadly in audit there is internal audit and statutory audit. Statutory auditors are those who sign off the balance sheets primarily by looking at the books of accounts. Meanwhile internal audit looks at the processes and regulations and compare it with the actual functioning of the department and point out loopholes, suggest better ways to do certain things. It is a very hands-on, real-time way of auditing and I gradually had developed a knack of getting at the core in a short time. But for the world, auditors seem to be a hassle, someone who needs to be pampered with good lunches to get a favourable audit report. But that’s not true at all. Which is not to say that we did not enjoy the client paid lunches, but we kicked some ass on the work side and helped them improve their procedures. I am still friends with a lot of my earlier auditees and I think that says a lot about our working efficiencies.
So then at ICAI campus placement when I heard that Kotak Mahindra bank was recruiting in internal audit, I was elated. I knew I had to get that job. And the recruiting team from Kotak was surprised too. Here they had someone who had cleared the group discussion round and had audit department as the first choice! They did not let me go out of their sight for the rest of the day till the appointment letter was in my hands. So while a few others had landed up in Kotak audit department because there were no other suitable jobs available, there I was, with my dream job. I worked there for 2 and a half years before quitting and joining our family business, but what a great learning experience that was. Mostly thanks to my boss and the head of the audit team. Both of them played a pivotal role in where I am professionally and personally.
So sometimes people may try to nudge you towards what they think is best for you, but you know in your heart what you want to do. Listen to it and do it. I can’t imagine not having that auditing experience and developing that framework of mind. Later in our family business, I found it much easier to lay down systems and establish fool-proof checks in all departments because of that auditor brain. Looking at verbal and non-verbal cues while working has been coded in my brain now, making work intuitive.
Yesterday I was talking to my dad’s friend and he proudly told me that his son is now in the Risk Analysis department of a consulting firm and how he was so above the typical, run-of-the-mill stuff like auditing. And I thought to myself, Really? How different is risk analysis from auditing? Just a fancier name.
Perhaps the pay and incentives would have been better on the business development side. But there is no monetary tag on doing the things you love and the 15 different states of India I travelled to while on audit for five years of my life. A few years down the line when my baby is a bit older, I would love to get back to part-time auditing along with our family business. But that is for another time.