When most of her friends were out having fun, Mitali Botadra was working and studying to become a senior audit associate, an aim she achieved at the age of 21. Still just 22, the KPMG employee based in Dubai was this year named Young Accountant of the Year in the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales's inaugural Middle East Accountancy and Finance Excellence Awards.
Here, she talks about the challenges she faced to become a manager at such as young age.
What attracted you to accountancy?
Only a hospital needs a doctor but every company has to manage their funds, so every business needs an accountant. I will always have a secure career wherever I go and have mobility. If I wanted to pack my bags and go off to another country that would be possible. I also got the top grade for accountancy in the board exam at my school. I got 98 per cent [which] was the highest in the girls' section in the [UAE].
After you finished school you chose not to go to university but start working towards becoming a chartered accountant. Why?
I thought, 'Why waste four years in university and then do it when I can start right now and achieve my dream as soon as possible?' When I started [with KPMG] I was an audit associate and we have different levels of an audit associate. I progressed every year to the next level.
Managing people is part of your job as a senior associate. You must be in charge of people much older than you.
Yes, I am.
Has that been challenging?
Yes. Even as a woman it is also difficult because it is hard for someone to accept a lady that young is above them. You just learn to work your way around it and you've got to do what you've got to do.
Have you experienced any hostility from your colleagues?
Not so much. We're a professional firm, so you're expected to have a professional attitude when you're at work. Sometimes, and I wouldn't call it hostility, it's maybe just a little bit of discomfort but once the person gets to know you and you work with them then they accept it better.
Do you get asked your age a lot?
Have there been any downsides to being successful so young?
I did have to sacrifice a lot. While all my friends were in university - they would go to university in the morning and they would be home in the afternoon and hang out in, go to a movie or do whatever they do, I was out there working from 8.30am to 6.30pm and then I had my classes from 7pm to 10pm. It was a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifices but for me, what I achieved makes it all worth it in the end.
* Gillian Duncan