Does your accounting job have you trapped in an accrual world? Do you ever want to ditch it all and travel down a different career path?
You could go back to school to become an orthopedic surgeon, but then you’d have to re-learn the phases of mitosis. You could be an English teacher, but that would require figuring out whether a gerund is a part of speech or a made-up word created by the government to destroy children’s dreams. (A word that’s a verb and a noun? Right, and Neil Armstrong really landed on the moon.)
Or you could use the accounting and business skills you’ve already acquired to transition into a much more rewarding role.
That’s exactly what Advaion’s Pavan Satyaketu, a managing director, did when he left the Big 4—arguably at near the top of his field—to enter the world of advising jobs and become a leader at an advisory firm in 2004. Despite his initial success in accounting, the 20-something immigrant realized his passion lay elsewhere, and took a career gamble at a time when the Office Space “Bobs” and Dilbert were still accountant synonyms.
We recently caught up with Satyaketu and asked him about his start, career switch to advising jobs, path to success, and words of wisdom to those accountants looking to make a transition into more of an advisory role.
Adolescent to accountant
Going Concern: First off, tell us a little bit about your background. Where’d you grow up, and how’d you get into accounting?
Pavan Satyaketu: I grew up as one of five boys in a three-bedroom house in the West Indies. We were a working-class family. My father suggested an accounting path, as he knew it would be a career with high demand. I started my career at Price Waterhouse, as they offered tuition loans in a position that allowed me to work full time and go to school part time, nights, and weekends.
GC: Where’d you go from there?
Satyaketu: I eventually followed my parents to Fort Lauderdale—moving to Miami in the late 1990s to work at a large pharmaceutical company. I soon realized I couldn’t stay there if I wanted to build my career, so I decided to go big and moved to New York without a job. After cold-calling, I landed interviews at a number of firms and ultimately decided to join KPMG.
From the Big 4 to advising jobs
GC: You rose quickly through the Big 4 ranks, but ultimately left after 10 years. What prompted the switch to the world of advising jobs?
Satyaketu: I think by the end of 2002, I started to see a shift in what I was doing. While I loved the company and team I worked with, my work kept me focused on numbers and away from business operations altogether.
GC: And you knew then you were ready to move?
Satyaketu: In the summer of 2003, I went on vacation with my younger brothers, and I saw that my daughter was more comfortable with them than with me. I realized then that I couldn’t take on a lot of travel and long hours at the office and have quality time with my daughter at the same time. My grandfather and uncle both died in their early 50s, and I knew I didn’t want to wait until I got older to start enjoying life with her.
Does Pavan sound like the type of guy you’d like to work with? He works at an advisory firm, Advaion, which is currently hiring. Scroll to the bottom of this post to apply for an open advising position.
GC: How were you able to successfully make the transition from the Big 4 to advising jobs
Satyaketu: After a decade of watching and helping great companies—nationally and internationally—and seeing just how passionate people were with their work, I found that my view was only from the outside as an auditor. I wasn’t part of the team that was growing a company. I wanted to be part of the team and drive success instead of just being the auditor who gave them an audit opinion on their financials.
Advice to the future advising jobs seeker
GC: What advice would you give to someone working at the Big 4 or another firm who is looking to transition into something else?
Satyaketu: It all depends on what they are trying to transition into. The Big 4 has so many smart people, and because those people work with so many different clients, they develop a lot of skill sets they use daily—project management, interpersonal skills, critical thinking, and analytical skills, to name a few. I think they really need to sit down and evaluate their skill sets to see what they do well and see where they fit in. A lot of times those skill sets fit into an advisory role.
GC: What are some mistakes people make when trying to transition from a big accounting firm
Satyaketu: Knee-jerk reactions. When you encounter something you don’t like—be it financial regulations or something in life—our human nature tends to cause us to react a little extreme. That’s the worst thing we can do to ourselves and our careers. Fortunately, I got a call from someone who needed help to get financials together, and I realized I had a lot of other skill sets people valued as a resource. When we try to get away from something, doing the opposite to the extreme is not often a good thing, and it can result in a disservice to ourselves.
Advaion: The perfect place to transition from accounting to advising jobs
Does Satyaketu’s story sound familiar? Can you relate to his frustrations with accounting jobs? Maybe it’s time you followed his path and made the switch from accounting to an advisory career.
For more than a decade, Advaion has served as a trusted advisor for clients in several industries. The independent consulting firm’s staff is comprised primarily of former Big 4 business professionals—so if you’re currently working at one of the Big 4, you may be exactly the recruit Advaion is looking for.
At Advaion, you’ll provide your clients with the most up-to-date information related to regulatory, compliance, management, and technology trends. You’ll foster a relationship of trust with your clients, helping them make smarter financial decisions and grow their businesses.
If you’re still reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve decided you don’t want to go to medical school to learn the difference between anaphase A and anaphase B, and are looking to make the transition from accounting to advising jobs. And just like Satyaketu, if you possess the skills and drive to succeed, Advaion may be a great fit for you.
Click one of the links below to apply for open advising jobs at Advaion now.