19th July 2010 was the last day of GMCS classes and the CA final result was also to be announced on the same day. I was very nervous because this was my second attempt at CA Final. Being a bright student I never faced this situation earlier. The result was supposed to be announced until the afternoon. Most of the students in that batch appeared for exams.
“Being nervous isn’t bad, it just means something important is happening”
The class started at 9 o’clock and had a tea break at 11 o’clock. At the same time, to the surprise of all, it was found that the result had been declared. Knowing that level of nervousness had increased. My mind turned towards the result. Negative thoughts started coming to the mind. Smartphones were not very popular at that time, so the results could not be easily seen on mobiles and there was no internet connection even at home. All my classmates started calling their friends and family members. I also kept trying my friend’s number but could not talk. The teacher also extended the break time so that everyone could see their results.
Half an hour passed on. Many classmates had seen their results, some had cleared and became CA and some had not. Those who had cleared were so happy that their happiness could see from their faces, and I was afraid to see disappointed faces of those who could not make it. Suddenly one of the classmates came to me and asked for a result and I said “I cannot check as my friend is not picking up the call”. He asked me to share my enrollment number so that he could ask his friend to check my result. Being afraid I shared.
My heart started beating faster and my legs started shivering due to nervousness. The more time he was taking, the more the stress was increasing. Suddenly after 10-15 minutes, he came with a disappointed face and started telling subject wise marks which were increasing my stress level and suddenly he shouted “you did it.” I was not believing my ears what he said. I was on cloud nine because I fulfilled the first dream of my life. I had added the prefix “CA” with my name.
The first call I made to my mother. She had contributed a lot to my success. When I lost courage, she was the one who gave me the courage and still giving. Upon hearing that I had become a CA, she started crying due to happiness.
The real struggle started now, I had a degree in hand, but do not know what to do next. The firm where I completed my practical training, I decided to continue there and gave interviews simultaneously. Some companies were not giving good packages or in some companies interviews were not cleared. In campus placements also four companies shortlisted me but I did not reach the final round.
After some months I applied to one of the reputed automobile companies. I got a call from there for a telephonic technical and HR interview. I appeared for that and succeed. Then they called me for a final technical round interview at their Greater Noida branch. In that round, I and one another guy appeared. There was a written test as well as face to face technical round with the finance team. There I found the HR manager was one of my relatives. He informed me I got good marks in written as well as technical round and very much positive for my appointment. I was waiting there for my result. After waiting for so long they informed me to leave as they appointed the guy who appeared along with me. I got rejected because “I am a girl” and they had a fear that after a few months or years whenever I got marry I will move to some other place and will leave a job and that will affect their finance department.
That incident broke me from inside. Prior to joining this course, all asked me not to join as it was considered as a “Male Dominated” field. But I was determined.
“When no one is there for you make sure you will be there for yourself”
After that incident, I decided not to go for a job. I will set up my own practice. Until I got an opportunity to start my own practice I continued in the same firm.
Likewise, one year passed on and in July 2011 two of my childhood friends became CA. They approached me to start a practice as a partnership firm. In Dec 2011 we started our journey from a cabin cum office.
At the initial level, we did not have any work or you all can say we just started from raw. It was not possible to sit idle all day long. I was planning to continue in the existing firm as a part-time and along with my practice. But that option did not work. I had to quit that firm to continue my practice. We all decided to join the practice as soon as we will get clients. Both of my friends continued with their freelancing work and I used to sit all day idle in the office in search of clients. 6 months went like this. It made me totally depressed to go to the office in the morning and to come back in the evening without any progress. Being newly qualified Chartered Accountants no one ready to deal with us. It broke our spirit. At some point, it seemed that we had taken a wrong decision. But at the very second moment, all past experiences were again be emboldened.
After some time I got a part-time job as a freelancer at some merchandising company in Gurgaon. It became my routine to go to Gurgaon from Delhi for a half-day job and then to return back to the office for the second half. It took 3 hours to up-down between Delhi and Gurgaon. Like this one year passed. Along with freelancing, we were looking for clients for our firm. Firstly we got clients for just filing of ITRs from the reference of some of our seniors or colleagues.
At that time even trainees refused to join our firm as we had a small office and fewer clients. But some showed faith in us and joined us and are still with us.
From references to clients or through meetings we got some more clients. In some instances again I faced the situation of “Male Domination”. As both my partners were still occupied with their freelancing jobs I used to go for meetings at client place or even for department work. Some clients or companies refused to give me work as “I am a girl”. Some asked me to send seniors especially male members to meet them as I was not looking like a Boss. Even in government departments also officials refused to entertain as “I am a girl”. But I never gave up. I knew my potential.
“When you live for a strong purpose, then HARD WORK isn’t an OPTION. It’s a NECESSITY”
Years passed and clients were added. In the end of 2012 both partners joined a firm and me also quit part time job and started giving full time to my practice.
Over the years, I met some very good clients from whom we got to learn a lot and had a very good relationship. And there were some people who took advantage of our dignity and they also taught us a lot.
Meanwhile, I got a chance to appear on All India Radio for the show on “Tax Related Matters” for women and still appearing. It was an achievement for me. In the year 2013, I got an opportunity to appoint as TRP Trainer by the Department of Direct Taxes in association with NIIT. I took two batches of training and that helped me polished my teaching skills. I never thought I could have these skills also. That batches also gave me lifelong moments to cherish.
In October 2014, we moved from a small office in East Delhi to an office in a posh area in South Delhi. We did not achieve this easily. It was a result of our hard work and dedication towards work.
New place, new challenges and new targets.
We shifted to a new place in the hope to boost our practice. But that shift also resulted in a burden of expenses in the form of rent, salaries, and other operational expenses. It took time to chase new clients or to get new assignments but expenses were there that again increase the stress level. It seemed like a new start. We tried our best to achieve new targets and did not leave any stone unturned. Gradually new clients associated with us and that again boosted our energy to work harder.
“You get what you work for not what you wish for”
In 2015 I participated in Regional Level Badminton Tournament for Female organized by NIRC of ICAI and got First runner up position in doubles.
In Feb 2016 I got marry and moved to Faridabad. In April both my partners opened up another branch for the purpose of expansion but I could not move to another place as from Faridabad my current office was the nearest one.
Again, it became arduous to fetch expenses from limited income. But I never gave up. I have also seen a tough time when it became strenuous to bear office expenses. Even I had to use my savings to pay salaries and rent of staff. Work pressure was there but some clients did not pay on time and some ran away after work was done which resulted in the worst situation. But I kept doing hard work and I got the result.
In 2018 I appeared on a news channel for the show on Finance Budget. But God had different plans for me. Everything was going well. In February 2018, good news came that I conceived but that good news did not come alone. There were complications that the doctor instructed me strictly not to travel, drive, and go to the office. My expected delivery date was the end of September and start of October, which is high time in a life of practicing CA. There was complete bed rest for me. In that situation, I was stressed about how the office will manage in my absence. As one of the senior staff resigned in December itself and I did not find a suitable candidate in his replacement. In a hurry, I appointed a senior staff who was supposed to look after the office in my absence and I was controlling from home.
“You are a fighter. Look at everything you have overcome. Don’t give up now”~Olivia Benson
After 3 months she resigned from the job even known about my situation. That was again a tough and stressful time for me. On one hand, pregnancy complications were there and along with that official stress fully broke me. Sooner I got new staff who took her responsibility and fulfilled it.
On 27th September 2018, I blessed with twins baby boy. It was the happiest day of my life. But how can I forget that along with a mother I am professional also. From the very next day of C-section delivery, I started working as audits were going on. Before delivery, I was thinking to rejoin the office within 3 months of delivery but it could not be possible. Managing twins with official work was the toughest thing in life. Sleepless nights and all-day struggle with kids and postpartum depression disturbed me. Along with that managing, audit work was burdensome for me.
Gradually things started recovering and with the help of the supportive staff, I was able to finish all compliances within the due date.
In April 2019 I joined office back but for a half-day on daily basis and sometimes it skipped. This year I got an opportunity to appear on Doordarshan for tax matters. From then to till March 2020 I was managing office like this only. In 2019 I nominated as a Women Achievers Versatile Queen Awards by Faridabad Ladies Club.
In February 2020 again I got an opportunity to appear on one of the leading news channel for discussion on Finance Budget 2020.
In March 2020 when lockdown happened due to Pandemic all official work shifted to home. During that period I discovered a writer in me and thought to start writing blogs. When the whole world was getting disappointed or demotivated I started covering the real-life journeys of inspiration souls to motivate others.
Others believe I achieved a lot but I believed there are miles to go.
“The Journey of a Thousand Miles began with a single step”
Mini Bhatia is Chartered Accountant by profession and blessed mother of twins. She is doing her own practice in Delhi. Writing is her passion.