CPA Australia in India: Helping more finance professionals master the global strategy and leadership
Today, CPA Australia works with more than 30 recognized employer partners in India to provide members with access to learning and development opportunities. Here, Raj Kumar Kapoor CPA (Aust.), Senior Vice President and Chief Internal Auditor of Magma Fincorp Ltd, discusses the benefits that all accounting and finance professionals in India can obtain by obtaining the designation of CPA Australia.
How and when did you hear about CPA Australia and its CPA program?
As a public accountant (CA) and a member of the Institute of Public Accountants of India (ICAI), I have had knowledge of CPA Australia for many years. In early 2016, while visiting the ICAI website, I read about Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between ICAI and CPA Australia and about the CPA Program. That is how I became aware of the process involved.
In what practical ways did you see professional value in actively pursuing the CPA Australia designation?
The CPA Australia designation is known the world over and is especially valued in the Asia-Pacific region. However, having obtained a CA degree in India as early as 1987, my interest was not so much in gaining recognition through a degree as in becoming part of a professional body of a developed country like Australia, with a mature institutional and professional framework.
As part of the MRE, I had to [undertake] two issues: Best practices in governance and accountability (a module of continuing professional education online) and Global strategy and leadership. After having worked in internal auditing for most of my career, I was familiar with these issues, but I wanted to get more information about the framework of the two areas, especially regarding the strategy.
Regarding the interviewees who intend to join through the ARM pathway, what are some of the main points you can share about what you personally earned from the Global Strategy and Leadership issue?
Based on experience, I think it makes a big difference if one acquires a deep conceptual understanding of a subject while dealing with it in practice. I have experienced this with respect to each of my professional qualifications: CA, among others.
It is much more satisfying and enriching to experience what one has understood academically and vice versa. As part of my role as Chief Internal Auditor of a corporation, I have seen the planning and execution of strategies in practice. However, it was an enriching experience to gain in-depth knowledge of the subject. While reading, I was able to relate the content of the study material not only to my work experience but also to the business environment (the scenario, practices and developments) within India and around the world, since The material was so updated. I could also use the knowledge acquired through this study as a reference point for what I observed in my organization regarding the formulation of the strategy and its implementation.
For example, the importance of establishing an organization's vision and mission statements to obtain the correct approach in formulating its strategy and [ensuring] that they are aligned with the KPIs of its senior management and employees is often underestimated. I have certainly seen this happen in organizations.
I noticed its importance when I read The integral scorecard by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton a few years ago. Both areas - vision and mission statements and the balanced scorecard - are explained and emphasized at length in CPA Australia’s Global Strategy and Leadership subject. In fact, a few days ago I read the article Why are we here ? by Sally Blount and Paul Leinwand in the Harvard Business Review where the authors, based on their work, describe how organizations strive to define and live their purpose, how most employees feel disconnected for the purpose of their organization and how important it is for them to articulate and implement them.
Another example is the coverage of leadership in the subject. It is useful and very interesting to understand and apply the knowledge of different leadership styles in your workplace.
Then there is a discussion about the opinion of the shareholders and the view of those interested in the module of Best Practices in Governance and Responsibility and in the topic of Global Strategy and Leadership. Recently, in August 2019, one of the largest business groups in the United States, The Business Roundtable, which has about 200 members, abandoned its mantra of first shareholder. Clearly, there is a change in the business world in favor of a vision of stakeholders.
Similarly, the discussion about strategic drivers, operational drivers, people and organizational drivers are related key areas covered in the topic of Global Strategy and Leadership, and something everyone would find practical use.
In your view, what are the most rewarding and direct benefits after gaining the CPA Australia designation? For example, can it be a ticket to pursue overseas career opportunities or, concurrently, enhance the likelihood of internal job promotion?
I think the sense of professional satisfaction and fulfillment on the learning and development front could be the most direct first-hand benefit one is likely to get. On the job or business opportunity front, the CPA Australia designation could help one pursue new opportunities, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. A professional designation such as that offered by CPA Australia is also likely to help you gain further recognition within your own company since it enhances professional competence in areas that are likely to be relevant for organizational development.
Would you like to see the ICAI and CPA Australia collaborate beyond the existing MRA, and, if so, in what specific areas?
I believe that the two could collaborate to do more research work or expert studies in areas of common interest and use the results to improve the knowledge of their students, members and partner organizations.
Also, CPA Australia needs to cover more distance to tap the potential of its brand in India. It needs to create greater awareness of its program. It might be worth taking note of the increasing popularity of some of the other international bodies in India, via which CPA Australia could enhance its presence to create awareness about its program.
In summary, why would you recommend CPA Australia to other Indians?
The CPA program does not require memory learning. The exam approach does not require knowledge based on memory. The content of your program and your exam approach emphasize a qualitative understanding of the core theme, with the objective of developing competence in it. [This approach helps to] ensure success on exams, rather than leaving it to chance. Good quality study material ensures that learning is a pleasant and enriching experience, not a laborious exercise. Practical examples and case studies improve understanding and facilitate the relationship with the subject.
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