CA Asma Afzal – AIR 14 Batch (Nov 2018)
Assistant Manager at KPMG UK, Ex- Ernst & Young India, Ex-Grant Thornton India
Growing up in a Kashmiri family, among an overachieving bunch of four sisters, Asma always felt overwhelmed with the constant need to outshine them. There was no pressure but, more often than not, she felt compelled to perform better, set on creating a distinct path of her own. She was brilliant academically and had been a consistent performer throughout the school. The bar having been set high by her three elder sisters, initially Asma faced some resistance on opting for commerce, but eventually her parents caved in. She was set on pursuing Chartered Accountancy after school. “The socio-cultural background that I’m a product of created a mindset where pursuing Chartered Accountancy was seen as an unconventional choice. But it was due to proper direction and support from my teachers at DPS, Srinagar, I was able to pursue and excel in one of the most rigorous courses in India”. For lack of suitable opportunities, Asma had to move to Delhi in 2016 to pursue her articleship with Grant Thornton in Transfer Pricing, for which she always got a ‘question mark’ from people when she explains what she has done since it’s a very specialized and niche field in tax. The training period at Grant Thornton turned out to be a golden period for her with extensive learning and opportunities to work on diverse and unique assignments.
Like every other CA student, Asma faced the ordeal of juggling classes, office, self studies and much needed down time during this period. “The most dreaded CA final exam preparation stage was as dreadful as everyone said it would be. I felt I did okay in the finals, dragging myself from one paper to the other. The PTSD from the exams wore off in a few weeks. As the results approached, the unsettling feeling was back and even the mention of results was depressing”.
In hindsight, Asma thinks it is useless to beat yourself up over wasting a few hours or even days of prep. She believes everyone has their own pace and following a good routine sure helps.
Asma qualified the finals securing an All India Rank of 14. All the hard work and sleepless nights, cramming and cribbing sessions, dreadful exams paid off. The crucial phase started after results when it was the time to decide in a career path. “I think there’s no wrong choice, it’s about making an informed decision because eventually it’s all a learning experience”. She was keen on exploring a new field and her interest was piqued by Valuations. Since she was from a Transfer Pricing background, the switch proved a bit difficult. She made use of her LinkedIn network and secured an offer to join the Valuations team at EY. The stint proved to be shorter than she had expected going in, however, the experience was enriching.
She moved to the UK in September 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. In her current role, she is working as an Assistant Manager with KPMG UK, back again in Transfer Pricing. “I’ve had the pleasure of working on some of their biggest clients with a supportive team and inspirational leadership”.
From Kashmir to Delhi to UK, Asma believes she’ve had the constant support system in form of her family, friends and teachers at DPS, Srinagar. She quotes, “DPS , Srinagar taught me to dream big and if you dream big and have the courage to take the leap, I believe the possibilities are endless”.