Role: vice president of operations
Highlights: varied career and global travel
Murali Narayanan has had a varied career, and with the help of his CIMA qualification his employment has taken him to several countries around the world. ‘I started my career with a company in Saudi Arabia, and my job was in accounting and the management was predominantly British, so I thought studying CIMA would help me climb up the career ladder.’
After Murali passed his exams he moved to Chennai to find work but he found it tough going at first. ‘Finally, I broke ground and got a job as a finance manager at a manufacturing company and it went public at that time. I handled the public issue which was very successful.’
From there Murali moved up to the level of financial controller for the company’s hotels division and became the acting general manger of the hotel. ‘This was a rare combination, because until then it used to be the executive house keeper or the chief engineer who would officiate as a general manager.
‘So I would attribute the promotion to CIMA because we always look at CIMA as business accounting and not just accounting. We like to know the business that the companies are in better before we start cracking the numbers. From there on I took up so many positions in so many companies I would say it was a long journey.’
While working in the Maldives for the government with the ministry of finance, Murali headed up the accounting and finance function of a government-owned public limited company. ‘It was quite an interesting portfolio I handled there. I was also the advisor to the minister on many joint ventures and on the performance of government owned companies in Maldives.’ Here he assisted the management of the company to diversify into varied fields.
From there Murali came back to Chennai to help a friend float his company and took up the position of Financial Controller of Pizza Corner India and stayed in the country for a few years before heading to South Africa to work for a manufacturer of denim and T shirts. After that Murali headed to Bahrain. ‘This was another interesting position. I was the financial controller of an educational institute, the Indian school of Bahrain, the largest in Bahrain, which was jointly governed by Parents Committee and the Indian embassy.
‘It was a very interesting stint for about three years, that’s when I wanted to pursue my interest in SAP consulting, came back and did my FICO SAP certification with MARS software here. On completing that I got an offer from Astron Document Management India Ltd. It was a UK based company and an offshoot of HAYS consulting.‘
During this time he did several transitions in F&A at Astron, from the UK to India, in the shared service centre sector, and this is when he got into IT enabled services. ‘It’s interesting that you are not stuck with one client or one process, you have to do many processes, meet many clients and satisfy them and in fact delight them and create a lot of job opportunities for fellow Indians here.‘
After working for several years in the shared service industry Murali joined Tata Consultancy Services. ‘Right from the time I joined Tata Consultancy Services I was on about three projects. One was a very interesting project in Helsinki with Nokia. It’s a global online sales platform. My role was to be a consultant on value added tax, fraud management and finance and accounting.
‘At that time I also floated the FP&A wing of TCS and it was very successful. I then received the offer from Steria to be the vice president of their operations in Chennai, which I took. I have now been with them for the past year, and I currently service three large UK Customers.’
Murali feels that the CIMA qualification has really helped him in his career in a way the traditional chartered accountancy qualification wouldn’t. ‘That’s the only factor why or where I am right now. Probably if I took chartered accountancy as my education, I would have been practicing in India and would be running to the tax office or the registrar of companies and that would have taken all my time. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to travel, meet a lot of people, and even explore my career in various industries.’
Murali also encourages his staff to study the CIMA qualification. ‘I believe CIMA gives a better edge in business accounting. Right now I have already got two of them to do it.
‘The only restraint is the cost factor, because when you convert the pound to a rupee it is still a bit higher, but an MBA abroad (US or UK) or any other accounting degree abroad would be much more exorbitant.’