Reaching the next level

In today’s complex business environment, accountant Karthik Bhanu CPA (Aust.) has found a way to be at the frontier of his profession.

Technology is advancing at a pace that is fundamentally changing how many industries function. Staying ahead of the complex and ever-changing business environment presents challenges, but more than that it represents opportunity. With artificial intelligence being used to produce data at a rate beyond human capabilities, the ability to make informed decisions off the back of performance data is more important than ever.

Man at desk

To remain relevant in today’s data-driven workplace, accounting professionals are now expected to analyze and interpret vast volumes of data and make quick decisions that deliver competitive business outcomes.

Rather than viewing emerging technologies as competition, professionals need to evolve their existing arsenal of skills to complement these advances. Not a one-off, the pace of change means staying ahead and requires an ongoing commitment to professional learning.

For Karthik Bhanu CPA (Aust.), Head of Corporate Planning at Indian conglomerate ITC Limited, this demand for quick yet comprehensive thinking is critical to his role and essential for his business to remain competitive on an international stage, as India continues its path of economic expansion.

During ITC’s annual planning phase, Karthik and his team review the performance of 13 businesses and develop an action plan for each that best meets both the internal and external business pressures being faced. All this, he delivers within two months – an intense but necessary exercise.

“Technologies of big data, industry 4.0 and advanced analytics which seemed esoteric even a couple of years ago, are now commonplace. It is necessary for the finance professional to have a good working knowledge of at least some of the emerging technologies to hold their own and stay relevant,” says Karthik.

Despite having already completed three other post-graduate professional courses, Karthik says completing the CPA Program gave him an added edge and the skills and confidence to take on a more demanding role. A huge advantage for Karthik was CPA Australia’s Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) with the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI). As an Indian Chartered Accountant with more than 5 years’ experience, Karthik was only required to complete two subjects in order to advance to CPA status.

Man at whiteboard
To manage increased industry demands for fast, responsive decisions, Karthik says he returns to the models he learned throughout the CPA Program to assess strategic options and risks to determine the right fit.

“I keep revisiting this area, using these models as guides to bring greater clarity in thought and decision making. It’s amazing how these concepts which seem at first glance to be fairly simple, are actually deceptively complex and difficult to apply.”

Through discussions with CPA Australia’s global network of alumni, Karthik has also gained insight on how best to adapt in this fast-evolving business environment where change is constant and the future of the industry is still unfolding.

He also says the case studies shared throughout the CPA Program have provided practical value as they really brought to life the increased risks facing companies that pursue non-strategic outcomes, and which can often bring about eventual losses.

While balancing work and study was a time commitment, Karthik was comfortable with the additional responsibility because of the benefit he saw from applying the program’s learnings daily in his profession. He explains that the course structure and study recommendations gave clear direction and helped to reduce the pressure of deadlines.

“The sheer potential to build on several frontiers of knowledge simultaneously is what kept me motivated to stay enrolled,” he says. “But at the end of the day, study is only half the battle, it’s the continuous application of the learning and the refinement with experience that really adds value.”

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