This International Women’s Day, we scoured the floor for some extraordinary women in accounting at QXAS. We asked them what gives them the strength and excellence that they exude in their work, culture and lives every day and whether they had to fight some stereotypes to get where they are now. The responses we got were real, moving, summed up the challenges, breakthroughs and stories of all the strong women we see around us every day.
Misbabano Panwala, Assistant Accountant
Challenging Industry Stereotypes: Setting Priorities
It’s always tough to juggle between work and life – whether you are a man or a woman. I’ve overcome the struggle by setting my priorities straight, and right now the only thing that stands before me is my career.
My parents have been big supporters in my career trajectory. It’s easy to get derailed sometimes – I looked at what my mother, grandmother, older women in my neighborhood have done for years – and it made me wonder whether I should be equally just as good at cooking as I am in accounting. Does that make me any less of a woman?
Growing up was full of these dilemmas on what I should be and what I am. But my family supported me throughout and helped me understand the value of working hard, and making a name for myself. I have always been a fast learner and my family helped me realise I could do so much with my expertise in numbers.
I plan to lead the way for all the future women in accounting and help them to be confident in their knowledge, emotions and life choices.
Priti Pohwani, Manager
Challenging Industry Stereotypes: Being a Leader
I’m proud of all that it is to come for women in accounting in the future. So much has changed from before when women had just started entering stereotypically male dominated fields like business and accounting. I see powerful and brave women all around – I see women in my neighborhood dropping their kids off to school and heading out for work; I work with three successful, entrepreneurial female clients who are leading their way in the UK accounting community; I see my female colleagues being at par with and sometimes even ahead of my male colleagues. It challenges me, pushes me and makes me feel capable and well-equipped to keep growing in my accounting career.
I’ve been called an ‘overambitious’ woman before but over the span of my career, I’ve realised that there’s no such thing as being ‘overambitious’ or ‘too ambitious.’ I’m proud of all the times I’ve imagined myself sitting in the boardroom and making a difference to the business with my knowledge, skills and expertise. That’s where I’d like to see myself in a few years.
I’m also doing my bit of creating the gender equality I want at work and I’m looking forward to hiring more female accountants in my team. I don’t shy away from going an extra mile by advising my clients on better business practices rather than just doing the taxes or providing financial statements.
Saba Lakhani, Payroll Executive
Challenging Industry Stereotypes: Being a Scholar
I could start with all the stereotypes against women, that I’ve grown up with – but I’d rather start with all the uplifting adjectives that some of my male colleagues have used to attribute the modern woman of our times: reliable, loyal, bold, authoritative, confident, fearless – and smart.
As a budding accountant, I am learning to make my mark in the profession and break these stereotypes against female accountants: less experienced, less professional and more emotional. In fact, whether in house or outside at work – women have to go an extra mile to prove their competencies. I’m glad to be a part of an organisation, where my colleagues and managers support me and where my credibility is never questioned – just because I’m a woman.
I’m an innate learner. I love studying. I am working toward finishing my Chartered Accountancy and I have my eyes on an MBA degree. If all goes well, I’d also like to do a PHD in psychology or business and management. It’s both a boon and a curse that women can never let their hair down and always have to stay a step ahead of men to challenge society’s preconceived notions on who’s more knowledgeable – but I think this drives me to learn more, study more and always have an upper hand.
Himanshi Sonecha, Senior Accountant
Challenging Industry Stereotypes: Acing at Numbers
“Girls are not good at math” – I’ve been hearing this since school – in classrooms, exam rooms, at parties, family gathering. I’m not sure what it is but math, numbers, accounting, finance, business or commerce have been stereotypically associated to men. So when I cleared my MCom. and ventured into the profession. I was met with a lot of skeptical eyes. I bet I’m proving them wrong each day.
Not just me, whether there are hordes of women that I see on LinkedIn, female clients I work with, female bookkeepers I work alongside and it makes me so proud to see where the profession is heading. The inclusion and diversity in the accounting industry has been revolutionising and ground-breaking. A smart accountant knows – be it man or a woman – everything counts!
I am pursuing my CA qualification and looking forward to more leadership positions in the profession where I’m able to make a mark with my expertise in analyaing data and financial reporting.
Chandani Ranpura, Assistant Manager
Challenging Industry Stereotypes: Balancing Marriage, Work and Life
I’ve been told accounting is all about debit and credit – you give and you take as you further your career. But I think otherwise , I think it’s about balance between the two, it’s about not shying away from giving or taking too much when it’s needed.
Married life has taught me major lessons on my position as a career-centric female leader. My marriage hasn’t bogged me down at all – to do all the things I’d like to do to further my career, instead it has made me better at time management. My in-laws are cooperative and help me when I need help to maintain the balance – I know that it’s okay if I don’t make the bed for a day if I am running late for work.
I try to pass on the same level of understanding, cooperation and empathy toward the three women who work in my team. They are quick learners, enthusiastic, and I do everything to fan the flames of ambition in them. We don’t try to imbibe the men – we celebrate our femininity. Some lunches are spent gossiping while some are spent discussiing action plans for reporting to the client.
I’m looking forward to hiring, mentoring and empowering more women leaders in my team at QXAS.
Arpita Mehta, Senior Accountant
Challenging Industry Stereotypes: Being an Expert
I’ve been an accountant and an advisor to accountants for 5 years now. I rose quickly from being just a bookkeeper to an expert who understands the industry and the trends well – especially taxation. I began advising my ad-hoc clients on how to strategise well to help them upscale faster and they all did well in making right moves for their businesses.
In 2015, when I was given the job of managing the portfolio of a single large client – I was quite nervous but I studied meticulously to understand their challenges and how they can strategise well. Today, my client has gone global with offices outside of UK and Europe region and I am proud to have been a contributor to their success and growth.
I think my expertise in advising just makes me look back at all the times I’ve encountered stereotypes where women were just thought to be working for the sake of working. It’s time that we realise women can be quite the expert and brains behind a lot of businesses fledging around the world.
I’d like to upskill more and work with more top clients to transform their businesses with my strategies and knowledge of the trends in the profession.
Vaidehi Patel, Assistant Manager
Challenging Industry Stereotypes: The Power of the Pack
I think I’m a veteran QXite with 6 years of experience in UK accounting. I moved back to Ahmedabad from New Jersey after finishing my masters and joined QXAS since it was one of the leading offshoring outsourcing firms in India.
I’ve learnt a lot about supporting women in the workforce from my colleagues, my manager and my female clients who often go out of their way to make sure I’m doing well, and not stressed. My manager Pramith Naidu is the “cool” boss that most millennials like me want. He helps me cultivate a culture of empathy and kindness in the team and gives us the space to make mistakes, learn and grow.
But what’s even more endearing is the way that my clients look after me. I work for an international contractor payments company which is chaired by 3 powerful women – who have been my inspiration and a great contributor to my professional growth. They send appreciation emails when I hit targets, they always ask whether I’m coping well with the stress of the work or looking after myself – it makes me feel valued and respected.
All these things make me realise that we’re better together. It reminds me of the Madeline Albright quote, “there’s a special place in heaven for women who support other women.”
I’d like to walk the footsteps of my clients and be a female leader who empowers and enables other women in the workforce.
My name is Rishmita and I’m an aspiring journalist and blogger. I love telling stories – of people and brands. When I’m not too busy typing out incessantly on the computer, you’ll find me reading some old American classics or petting some furry stray cats.