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My journey to becoming a BIG 4 consultant – Sahana Ganesh

Some of us have a greater interest in sports and extracurriculars than academics, which may lead to being labelled an ‘average student’. But Sahana Ganesh shows us that academics are not the end-all, be-all, and it is these extracurriculars that will set you apart from the others. With a Bachelor of Commerce degree from R.A. Podar College and a Masters in Management degree from SIES College, she is currently a Consultant at KPMG, India, a top-4 Accounting Firm. A woman with many talents, Sahana says, “I always want to be known as a student who is curious and constantly learning”. Read on to know why she chose commerce, how the choice helped “change her brand” and her love for Risk Advisory.

Was commerce your first choice for high school specialisation?

Taking up Science in the 11th grade was regarded as the obvious choice at my school in Chennai. However, when I moved to Mumbai and thought about what I wanted to do, I realised I never truly had an inclination towards Science. I decided to give Commerce a shot, which turned out to be the best decision of my life. It’s why I always say that the best things that come to you are unexpected. Had I taken science, I would have been an average student. But today, I completed my Master’s in Management as a top rank holder, and I’m very glad this happened.

What drew you towards Finance?

While studying for my bachelor’s degree, I simultaneously started thinking of future career prospects. Chartered Accountancy(CA) is a common route for students in my field. Despite clearing the 1st Level of the CA course, I made the conscious decision to drop out of that early on, simply because there’s a lot to study. It demands a lot of dedication and literally becomes your lifestyle. Instead, I wanted to explore finance and accountancy. After all, personal finance is a need for everybody. I think my interest arose for it especially because I was good at Maths. So, to pursue it further, I went on to do a Master’s in Management Studies.

What is your current role? Why did you choose to get into it?

Currently, I am a consultant in the Risk Advisory division at KPMG. We deliver solutions based on the client’s needs, which may not always be purely Finance; it can be process gaps, fraud indications, internal audits etc. Currently, I’m working in audit specialising in the pharmaceutical industry. For example, if there is a plant, we keep track of things like the input-to-output ratio and monthly targets, and also check if there is a scope for improvement in their system.

I’m very ambitious. My main driving factor has to be to run away from a monotonous lifestyle. That’s actually why I pushed myself into consultancy. Consultancy comes with an asterisk – there is no work-life balance. Despite this, I’m still at it because the everyday challenges drive me to prove myself.

How did extracurriculars impact your growth?

During my childhood, I attended many extracurricular classes, like art, music and public speaking classes. I attended summer camps and NCC camps, too. During my Master’s as well, I participated in many extracurriculars and got involved in committees and NGOs. I emphasise extracurriculars because I believe time should not be spent only learning the subject. It’s also about learning to carry yourself. Your grades are important up until the interview table. After that, the interviewer has to see you as an interesting person. They want you to bring something new to the table. I think extracurriculars develop your personality well for such situations. Sports has been especially advantageous to me in this regard. Participating in sports set me up for success because it taught me teamwork and how to overcome failure. It allowed me to meet different people, which helped me understand people and their emotions better. Sports truly humbles you and also prepares you for the ups and downs of life.

I was always “the funny one” or “the sporty one”, but never “the studious one”. Once you’re branded like that, it’s hard to change your identity or people’s perception of you. You stop thinking that you’re capable of more. I made a conscious effort to change my brand when I moved from Chennai to Mumbai, as that was a fresh start for me. I was able to change my “brand” only because I worked hard. I was extremely proud of myself for this because I realised that if I put my mind to something, I can definitely achieve it

-Sahana Ganesh

Content Editor: Giripriya Pai
Reviewer: Maanasa Sachidanand
Interviewer: Maanasa Sachidanand

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