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‘Don’t study to accumulate degrees, but to broaden horizons,’ says this CA + CS brother-sister duo 

Apeejay Nerul alumni Shaily Gupta and Nakshatra Gupta say being ethical, having a strong moral compass, and clear values are integral to life



Shaily Gupta is a Chartered Accountant (CA) and Company Secretary (CS). She runs her own private firm called Shaily & Co, Mumbai providing due diligence services, custom corporate governance solutions as well as corporate advisory. Her brother, Nakshatra Gupta, is 6 years older than her and has secured four prestigious degrees. He is a qualified CA, CS, CMA (Cost and Management Accountant) & CA (England and Wales). He is Managing Partner at Deepak Brij Gupta & Co, a reputed CA firm in Mumbai established by his father. Both are the recipients of Dr Stya Paul Award for Human Values, given by Apeejay to the students who exemplify and exhibit good human values in their day to day life. In an informal chat, the brother-sister duo talks about its journey, the importance of values and ethics, significance of continuously acquiring knowledge, and more. Edited excerpts:

Take us through your school life.

Shaily: School assumes an exceptionally important part in our lives as they cover the two impressionable, albeit critical phases of our lives – childhood and youth. It’s in school where we start to gain proficiency in different domains which decides our future journey. I would like to especially thank my then Principal, Mr. Rakesh Joshi, who ensured that the school’s focus was not just on academics, but on the all-round development of students. I feel my confidence to face life came from the second family I had at school who were always there to celebrate my victories and cushion my falls.

Nakshatra: I too had a great time in school. I was always encouraged to come up with alternate solutions to mathematical problems. In fact, I remember our Maths teacher made me keep a separate notebook that has a list of alternate formulas to solve a problem. I was also quite ingenious as I along with my friends built a prototype of a magnetic city. I actively participated in numerous solo singing and instrumental competitions.  

Why did you choose to become a CA?

Shaily: Opting for CA was easy as I was always good with numbers. I am also inspired by my father who is a renowned CA and has been practicing for the last 30 years. His continuous guidance helped me to excel in this field. However, the skills needed to become a CA can’t be inherited and there’s no substitute for hard work. Though, I would like to point out that girls often get fewer chances to prove themselves as compared to boys. If they cannot crack a competitive exam in the initial few attempts, they are asked to give up. There’s pressure on them to ‘settle in life’. I am fortunate enough to receive full support from all quarters.

Nakshatra: I am also deeply inspired by my father. I used to see countless people visit my father for all sorts of issues and problems, not just work related. From the beginning, I aspired to become someone people will confide in. If that means becoming a CA like my father, then so be it.

Both of you have cleared exams which are considered to be toughest in India. What’s the secret behind this unflinching determination?

Shaily: My aim was not to gather degrees. The first priority was to become a CA and then I wanted to accumulate additional knowledge from other domains to expand my horizon. That way, I could provide better services to my clients.

Nakshatra: I look to continuously upgrade myself to stand out from the crowd. With due respect, these degrees are extremely tough and challenging, but in the end, as Shaily said, the aim is to gain as much knowledge as possible. I strive to be a professional who can bring solutions to all kinds of problems as this is the expectations of our clients. To make that happen, you need to continuously upskill yourself.

Your advice to CA and CS aspirants?

Shaily: Don’t get disheartened by failures. I am of the firm belief that no one can succeed without failures. In fact, success and failures are two sides of the same coin. Secondly, seek advice from your parents and teachers to identify and fine tune your dreams or what you want to accomplish. I would like to share an anecdote. I was in school and on one of the Founder’s Day (to commemorate the birth anniversary of Dr. Stya Paul, Founder Chairman, Apeejay Education Society), the students were given a book. It has a quote from Iqbal that hit me hard. Khudi ko kar buland itna ki khuda bande se khud pooche ki teri raja kya hai! (Empower yourself so much that God asks… What you want). So, stay determined and make yourself capable.

Nakshatra: Right from the beginning, find out ways to apply the concepts you have learned in real-life. Always be true to yourself and never give up on your values. I remember we had a class in school called ‘Environment and human values’ and one of the major lessons I learned from it is, ‘When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost!’

Both of you won the Dr Stya Paul Award for Human Values. According to you, what’s the importance of values in today’s time?

Shaily: For me, the Dr Stya Paul Award for Human Values is akin to Padma Shri. Good values beget our good thoughts which leads to good actions. Values help you grow and develop as well as keep you grounded. We as individuals make hundreds of decisions every day, so having a strong moral compass allows us to judge between what is right and wrong and act accordingly.

Nakshatra: You can keep all my degrees aside, I would say winning the Dr Stya Paul Award for Human Values is my biggest achievement. What separates a civilised person from an uncivilised one is values. The single-minded pursuit of money will surely backfire.Any civilisationneeds values to succeed.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]