After his studies, Akash worked at Deakin for nearly two and a half years before commencing his current role for KPMG Australia as a Senior Accountant in their Audit and Assurance team.
Q&A with Akash
What has been your journey since completing your studies?
I secured an internship with the Deakin Finance Team in Geelong during my last Trimester at Deakin. Post completion of my studies, I was advised by the Deakin Talent team to hold informational interviews. Through these interviews soon enough I secured a full-time role with Deakin University in the Finance team at Burwood. Post which, I obtained a promotion/secondment opportunity in the finance team with the Faculty of Health at Deakin. I worked fulltime at Deakin for nearly two and a half years, after which I commenced working for KPMG Australia in the Audit and Advisory space. I cater to a range of ASX listed and non-listed corporate clients.
Did you always want to pursue this career? What impacted your decision regarding this?
To be honest, I would say no! Being an international student, even in my wildest dreams I didn’t think that I would work for Deakin and then KPMG. I went with the flow on what I was offered by my connections and network at different points in my career. Fortunately, I had and still have a remarkable set of mentors to guide me, and I am grateful to them. Reflecting over the last 5+ years of professional work experience, I don’t think I can complain too much. God and the world have been kind!
What guiding principles have helped you succeed?
Building genuine and honest relationships – I have done three different roles thus far (Two at Deakin and one at KPMG) and these have largely materialised due to the genuine relationships, I’ve built over the course of time. Being honest and transparent – I have stuck to the principle of ‘honesty is the best policy’. I have been very transparent even in my most difficult conversations and there have been quite a few of these. In all cases, I’ve seen the trait being appreciated and my manager often going above and beyond to support me on both at professional and personal fronts. Sincerity and hard work – My Dad says, ‘There is no substitute for hard work’ and I’ve followed this principle since a young age. Whilst I appreciate that we also need to do smart work, there’s no denying that. In my experience, I’ve seen that sincerity and hard work always shines through. It is reflected in your work which often speaks louder than words.
What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a similar career path to you?
Follow the above principles if they resonate with you. Have a solid group of mentors to guide you, often those who have walked the path that you’d like to walk. If in doubt, always go with your gut feeling! You may regret some decisions at some point in your life but trust me in 3-5 years’ time it will all fall into place.
What are you passionate about outside of your work?
I am deeply passionate about giving back to the community. Even before I started at Deakin, I wanted to be a Mentor. I was rejected during the Mentor interview. In my feedback meeting, my passion shone through, and I was allowed to attend the new mentors’ training and eventually did become a mentor. Post Deakin, I do still mentor recent graduates and current students. Some of my mentees (and now good friends) have secured roles with PwC, NAB and so on to name a few, which of course gives me immense satisfaction to see them grow. I have also volunteered for the Team Vision Foundation (based in Mumbai) for over a decade now. We assist visually challenged students in reading, writing, organising recreational activities and overall providing them services to make their life as ‘normal’ as possible. Lastly, I am passionate about sports and business, and write research and analysis focused articles. The last article was published on SportsVenueBusiness.com. I’ve also recently secured a freelance writing role with OffThePitch.com – a leading football (soccer) business media house.
How did you come to choose Deakin for your studies?
Funnily enough, it was the other way around and Deakin chose me. I knew that my college back in Mumbai, India had a connection to Deakin University. Fortunately, I was at the right place at the right time. I was wearing thongs and had shoulder length uncombed hair whilst standing outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office when I was informed that they were taking interviews for a Deakin University Scholarship. With a half-handwritten resume by a friend (my handwriting is terrible!) and gaining a spontaneous entry for the interview, I somehow managed to clear all rounds and secured the scholarship. The rankings, double master’s degree program and interactions with Deakin Faculty and staff at an Education Expo in India all helped to build confidence in myself and my parents to pursue our Australian dream at Deakin.
What were some of your best experiences as a student at Deakin?
My favourite experience had to be undertaking the trading unit at the Telstra Trading Room. The students were involved in simulation trading over a period of 6 weeks and competed against each other by representing different banks. The objective was to use different trading strategies to maximise our return. Interestingly, we were at the 2nd position on the last trading day and a near flawless trading session ensured that we finished as winners during the trimester. Anyone who is keen on trading, investment, forex, etc. should certainly do the unit – a thrilling experience to last a lifetime! The late-night assignment sessions, the trips we took, the events organised, the stressful exams and most importantly the lifelong friendships built all contributed to some unforgettable experiences at Deakin.
How has COVID-19 impacted your professional lifestyle and how have you coped with this?
Working in Audit, it is a legal requirement for companies to have audited financial statements. The impact of Covid-19 certainly resulted in increased workload for all of us in Audit. I worked the hardest that I ever have during that period and my colleagues right from graduate level to Partner level said the same about their workload. We were still fortunate to hold on to our jobs during such a phase. Due to some challenging and unique circumstances on a personal front I had to return to Mumbai and started working remotely. The team and the clients have been extremely supportive and accommodating of my unique circumstances. I married my long-term girlfriend during the pandemic, so I can’t complain too much. Overall, it’s been challenging but the support has always been there to cope with it with at a professional and personal front thanks to my colleagues, friends and family.