IndiansinKuwait.com

Qualifying oneself can make us more recognizable - M.R. Raghu, Senior Vice President at Kuwait Financial Centre

Suryaprakash Special to IIK
Monday, October 31, 2011

“There are three ingredients to a good life- learning, earning and yearning" ,an inspirational quote by the famous American journalist, novelist, poet and essayist Christopher Morley, is more than realized in the life of Mr. Raghu Mandagolathur,46,who has a CFA, FRM and is the Head of the Research Unit in MARKAZ, Kuwait. When IIK interviewed this down to earth and thoroughly practical gentleman, we found in him all these three ingredients of success. A double CFA holder which in itself is a rare achievement, Mr. Raghu’s life is an inspiration to everyone across all sections of the society.

IIK: Looking at your CV, there seems to be no looking back for you. You have grown from strength to strength, both on the academic front and on a professional front. How did you make this possible?

I wouldn’t say it was a smooth and linear growth. We all make mistakes. However, when we do make mistakes, there are two choices; either we sulk about it, or we learn from the mistakes and proceed. I have always opted for the second option and kept moving on. Most of us come from middle class families and there is no other option for the right thinking ones, but to put in hard work and stay on top. In one such effort, when I completed my ICWA alongside B.com, my parents felt proud and happy.

 

IIK: Looking at your job profile you are always seen on the top rung of the corporate ladder. Could you tell us more about this trait in you to stay on top in your profession as well?

Early on in my career at 23, I was able to get a good job in a public sector organization called MECON as an Assistant Accounts officer. When I took up that position, I was surprised to note that people who reported to me were well experienced people and senior in age to me. It was then that I realized the worth of professional education and the respect it demands. That made me realize that if a professional educational qualification can differentiate so much in a public sector; imagine its worth in the private sector. This was an eye opener for me. From there on, I moved onto another giant public sector company called the UTI. Here I was appointed as an Internal Auditor and this was a thankless job because I was supposed to find mistakes in everything that took place. But I wanted to do a frontline job. Hence, I pursued and completed the Indian CFA program.Though my marriage took place because I was an employee of a public sector undertaking (you know the comfort zone and safety factor is high in here) ,as soon as I completed my CFA I resigned from UTI and took up a job in an institute called the ICFAI located in Hyderabad. That was a game changer for me. I'd joined the institute as a normal analyst but thanks to opportunity given, I rose to the position as the head of an independent unit in the institute called the Securities Research Center. I was instrumental in recruiting about 30 full time analysts and more importantly, I interviewed and recruited more an 200 management graduates as summer trainees from premier IIMs in India for Equity research program. I personally cherry picked them and offered them a job profile that they could not refuse. They came to our institute instead of going to other major industries. This is one of my most cherished moments in my life. I trained them for one week in Hyderabad on Equity research and then packed them off to various industries across India to interact with the management of those companies, then come back to Hyderabad and write a report,submit it and go. I consider recruiting such high profile management graduates and training them, a real honor.

 

IIK: How did the call to Middle East interest you? How did you plan your growth here in Middle East?

I shifted my job location from an institute in Hyderabad to a small consultancy firm also in Hyderabad. Very soon, I realized that this was not my cup of tea and I started looking for placements elsewhere. At this time I had applied for jobs in Saudi Arabia. So I went to Riyadh in 1998 upon being selected to work for a firm there. Though from outside it looked extremely remunerative, when I went to work there, I found it to be suffocating to work in due to social conditions. I started researching listed stocks in the Saudi Stock Exchange. I made full use of Information technology to make a complete data base for all the listed Saudi companies. I realized the huge commercial potential of these information as a package. It was a huge success commercially for the firm. At the same time I also found out that the educational qualification we picked up in India was not enough in the overseas market. This was an international market and people tended to look more towards the West than the East. Hence, qualifications oriented towards the Western markets carried more value. So, an MBA from Harvard or a CFA from America carried much higher value than a ICWA from India. This learning experience was a setback for me. So instead of living in the past glory, I ventured to do my CFA from America. Once I finished this program, life for me changed completely.

 

IIK: How did you come to Kuwait?

While I was in Saudi, I got an invitation from a startup venture in Bahrain. I had to think hard because I would be leaving a well-established firm and then joining a firm which was just beginning. But then Bahrain as a country had its own charm and secondly I could put my CFA skills to use. So these two factors made me go to Bahrain and join the new venture. Here I was in a position advising the high networth clients of Saudi Arabia. Many of them were billionaires and they had investments across the world. My task was to list out their investment and guide them to re arrange their portfolio, suggesting diversified investment and following up on these investments. This was a good experience for me. I then had to leave Bahrain because I got this fantastic opportunity with the Kuwait based Markaz in 2006. It was a frontline position in an established company in Kuwait. Markaz needed somebody to head their research unit. The reception was warm and friendly by Markaz. And I am still here with Markaz, enjoying my stay.

 

IIK: Could you please tell us about CFA Societies you have started in Bahrain and in Kuwait?

When I was working in Bahrain, I happened to meet many CFAs from India. So, I thought of forming a local chapter after obtaining permission from the CFA Institute. It was a huge success as it enabled networking among the CFA community. Once I settled in my job, I repeated the feat here in Kuwait as well, that is home to more than 100 CFA's belonging to various nationalities, though majority of them were Indian. In our regular meetings, we have senior professionals of various companies come and deliver key note speeches. We conduct career based events for our members and have interactive seminars amongst ourselves. This helps in our jobs as well and also helps us see where job opportunities occur. Active exchange of ideas takes place here. We advise people who wish to take up CFA and take up issues with the CFA institute from case to case. We also conduct mock exams in a University for aspirants of CFA.

 

IIK: You did your B.Com in the year 1986. In this period in India, the two major fields students opted for were either medical or engineering. So how did you choose this field?

When I'd completed my tenth as a school topper, the trend then, was that brilliant students entered the science stream and the not so brilliant, into commerce. But I opted for Commerce since I had no interest in science, much to the surprise of the Principal of the school. My father told the principal ,“I want my son to do what he likes” and that is how my journey in the Commerce stream started. Here, I wish to state that what a person likes, is a discovery process. When I joined my B.com in Loyola College, I observed that many of my classmates were pursuing CA alongside. I asked my professor what exactly a CA does. He told me that a CA acted like a police and saw if accounts were maintained correctly and weren't fraudulently reported. A certificate that everything is in order, is then issued by the CA. I thought this line would not excite me at all. It was quite a difficult decision to make when all the students were going in one direction. So I chose cost accounting which I was told ,enabled a person to price the product of a company correctly to help the company make profits. But more than that, I liked analysis and this was when I learnt about a course called CFA. At that time, it was just a small time expensive course and had very few takers. But I found out this was my line of interest. This was a discovery process. In my humble opinion, each person should take his time to know what he has an interest in as accurately as possible and should not blindly follow others. For me, to walk into an office as an analyst was more exciting than walking into an office as an auditor. This is my individual taste. Other people might find an auditor's job more exciting. To realize our potential, it is important to know what our interest area is and back it up with hard work.

IIK: You have obtained most of your professional degrees while you were a working professional. Is this usually the case in the field of finance or have you chosen it to be that way?

Except for ICWA, I have picked up my degree as a job requirement,as I have mentioned before. In my opinion, education is a life long journey and combining academic pursuit along with job will enable one to gain maximum advantage.

 

IIK: In your first stint as a working professional, you worked in an EPC firm as a finance professional. As a finance man, did you always have the upper hand in all the decision making?

Unfortunately, yes. I've always felt that engineers are the heart and brain of any organization. An engineering idea is the basis for a company to stand. Finance is more advisory and strategy based compared to engineering. In personal financial industry, an advisor job comes with fiduciary duty. It means as an advisor, I need to first think that if I were in the position of the client ,would I do it myself? Finance can advise with a fiduciary responsibility. I also feel that in India, glamorous positions command more premium while what is needed is the development of science and research.

 

IIK: You are a strategic thinker. Is this a special quality for all finance people?

Strategic thinking is the way you look at things. You should have the bigger picture in mind while doing and planning things. Real estate in Dubai is a prime example. Many Indians have invested hugely in Dubai real estate without taking into account the risks involved. They have lost a huge amount of money that could have otherwise been invested in India and could've earned a fourfold profit. A company’s CEO brings in the bigger picture and does not think of himself as the functional head. This enables one to see the big picture and clearly evaluate risks from that position.

 

IIK: Is Indian economy, according to you ,really immune to the global economic recession?

I would say India is more immune, say as compared to China. India developed as an internal economy. It depended more on itself. In the long run this is not healthy as India has not yet globalized completely. It needs to become globalized as quickly as possible. We have examples of the US and Germany who have exported quality material. India is yet to develop on these lines. India has enough talent. Many Indians are a big success abroad. So we have enough talent, but limited disposition. We should be bold enough to compete in the world market. India should open up more and not resist competition.

 

IIK: You are a double CFA. Would you like to share your method of preparation to pass this extremely tough examination?

I was 35 years old when I completed the American CFA. I had grown- up children, and a balance was needed between family and profession. So the first thing that needed to be done was to sell CFA to the family. They needed to know how important it was for me to complete CFA and what benefits the family could get if I did. When they were convinced, I would go to the office on all holidays and on weekends and would prepare by myself without any disturbance. This way we do not disturb the family and achieve our goals.

 

IIK: A motivating thought you wish to share with IIK readers

One thing I found in ME is that once people come here, they become victims of comfort. People tend to repeat the same things over years and get back to India upon retirement. Many of them have become laid back. Qualifying oneself with add- on qualifications of international repute can make us more recognizable. If we are at this stage with minimum effort, imagine what we could be if we put in some additional effort!This can lead us to grow in our own organizations. I wish to encourage people in identifying the degrees of international repute and pursue it.

Mr Raghu's wife Hemalatha,39, is a Cost Accountant and has an MPhil in Commerce. She has worked as a teacher in various Indian schools based in the Middle East and takes a practical approach to teaching students. She teaches Commerce and Accountancy for 12th grade students. His daughter Shruthi, 18,is now pursuing a BA in Communication Studies, Psychology and English Literature. His son Shravan,16, is interested in Astrobiology, football, and tennis.

Surya S. Prakash is an engineer by profession and a passionate public speaker. He voluntarily guides both children and adults in the art of public speaking. He is a motivational public speaker and has been invited by many alumni associations in Kuwait to deliver motivational speeches on Stress Management, Work Ethics. He is presently mentoring English public speaking clubs for children. He is also an editor for some public portals.
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Express your comment on this article
 
IIK
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Mr Reghu can be contacted at [email protected] to clear all your queries regarding CPA / CFA etc..

sebastian
Monday, January 2, 2012
Very inspirational conversation.. Rarely we get to know such great professionals. I have a few in my list of friends, though. I am a Commerce graduate from India. I have been thinking to do a quality professional course like CPA or CFA. If by any chance Mr.Raghu sees this message could you please suggest a comparision between the two.. Or by any luck can i get Mr.Raghu's email id. Thank you. Sebastian.

jaishree thiagarajan
Monday, January 2, 2012
raghu sir,
you artical is really inspiring,after reading this i really felt that there is no age barrier for doing higher studies,iam a working mother of age 34,i thought i should close my thought of doing higher studies,but i feel if u have a will u can balance ur family and profession at the same time,
thank u so much for the inspiration.

Anas Muhammed
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Learning, Earning and Yearning.... what a quote, your confident makes us more inspiration.
Mr. Ragu, All best wishes.

Thirumalai Vijayaraghavachari Narasimhan
Sunday, December 4, 2011


Mr Raghu you really inspired me by sharing your thoughts. Your simplicity and way of talking with people i am really surprised.GOD bless you




sashi kumar
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Really motivating write up.



What Mr. Reghu said is right. The "comfort zone" spoiling us. Our skills are not polished! While going back, we might not be fit for for a competitive market!



I wish Mr. Reghu all the very best in his career.



Thanx IIK for sharing the excellent article.

Haridas Nair
Monday, November 7, 2011
Very thought provoking interview. All youngsters and students should read this.

Schools all over here in Kuwait should publish this interview in their notice board or read to the students.

I wish Mr.Reghu and family all the best. God bless them

Haridas Nair

sukumar
Friday, November 4, 2011
Yes it is Correct most of the people become

victims of these small small convenience.

Qualification is not the required criteria to go up the corporate ladder in Kuwait. It is how you gel well with the management/superiors - many have realized this and opt to concentrate on this area rather than aquiring qualifications.


Bobby Paul Joy
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Truly Inspirational

sk
Thursday, November 3, 2011
victims of comfort." yes it is correct

most of the people is like that..



pls. note BO comment is absolutely right.

should good with supervisor or manager rather

other things. All are scape goat in this matter

Unlike Mr. Reghu's experience in India - qualification is not the required criteria to go up the corporate ladder in Kuwait. It is how you gel well with the management/superiors - many have realized this and opt to concentrate on this area rather than aquiring qualifications.



Read more at http://www.indiansinkuwait.com/ShowArticle.aspx?ID=13648&SECTION=12#ixzz1ccvI7ADz

Sageer Trikarpur
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
An inspiring write up. Hope it will help some of us to come out of the"comfort zone"!

All the best to Mr. Raghu.

Sageer Trikarpur


Surya
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Whereas each individual is entitled to his / her own opinion on various professions and on benefits of acquiring higher educational qualifications that are valued in international markets, it is good to point out that in the lives of such achievers as Mr. Raghu, Prof. Nandakumar, Dr. S. Neelamani all of whom IIK has interviewed, they have never gaven any room for complacency and negative thinking. They just went about doing the work with their heart and soul in it and with a focus on quality. These attributes in such exemplary individuas have bore fruits and it is there for everybody to see. So let us all observe these qualities in such achievers and try imbibing them in our lives in our own way.

Best Regards

Surya

BO
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Inspiring interview - Disagree with "victims of comfort" Unlike Mr. Reghu's experience in India - qualification is not the required criteria to go up the corporate ladder in Kuwait. It is how you gel well with the management/superiors - many have realized this and opt to concentrate on this area rather than aquiring qualifications. Unlike India the major investor/stake holder is the govt. and as such management of most companies have relation with govt. and it is the relation with govt. that determine their success and not the success of the team under them.

Karthikeyan Rajendran
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Dear Mr.Raghu,



I am also a cost accountant working in kuwait.Really it is nice to read your back ground.I have few questions to you.Why ICWAI could not recognisable much in international market (especially in Middle east market) even though its curriculum and exams having higher standard.I hope you are the member of ICWAI.What is your contribution towards make this course well known and benefits of this profession?

Ravikumar
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Very clear and pragmatic. Well done Raghu.


S. Neelamani
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
It is a very inspiring and down to earth interview. I wish Mr. Raghu many more success in his carrier path. S. Neelamani

??????? ????
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
True

//in ME is that once people come here, they become victims of comfort." I like this sentence very much.
every one coming here to Kuwait with basic degree and that is teh end.. they never tries to add up any proferssional qualigficiations once they start enjoying the comforts of ACs and TVs..and junk food.//

??????? ???????? ??????????? ????????? ??????? ?????. ???????????, ?????.

Jayanthi Venkatesh
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Qualifying oneself with add- on qualifications of international repute can make us more recognizable. If we are at this stage with minimum effort, imagine what we could be if we put in some additional effort!

These lines are really inspiring, especially for the younger generation. What I feel after reading this interview is this: With a positive attitude and a stubbornness to achieve ones goal can lead you to the heights of achievements.

I wish to congratulate Mr. Raghu for all his remarkable achievements and more to come.

GKPallikkattu
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
It is really a worthful interview. Very motivationg talk.Congrats to Mr.Reghu.

Thanks to the IIK and specially to the Interviewer .

Proud to be an Indian


Vijay
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Very inspiring words. Hardwork pays . keep going.

All the best

M A KHAN
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
This few lines from the above interview are really applicable in most of our lives where the career is to build up but most of them are help less with the survival conditions with their jobs and families. But every qualified person must think and accept the fact. Thanks to sharing your thoughts.



" the educational qualification we picked up in India was not enough in the overseas market. This was an international market and people tended to look more towards the West than the East. Hence, qualifications oriented towards the Western markets carried more value."





Read more at http://www.indiansinkuwait.com/ShowArticle.aspx?ID=13648&SECTION=12#ixzz1cQeyBhBn

GB
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Way to go Raghu! Proud to know you.

suresh kumar
Monday, October 31, 2011
a candid interview from a senior yet down-to-earth professional.

VL
Monday, October 31, 2011
It was a truly motivating talk...

Proud to be an Indian...!!

salih
Monday, October 31, 2011
Mr Raghu you really inspired me by sharing your thoughts.

Bam
Monday, October 31, 2011
Very inspiring!!!Hats off Mr.Raghu and the thought was truly motivating...

VIJAYESH.K.V
Monday, October 31, 2011
This interview session is really an inspirational one. As he rightly said "victims of comfort" is very true in general.
All the very best wishes to all concerned and Best wishes to Mr. RAGHU and family.

[email protected]

Jacob
Monday, October 31, 2011
wow! really great!

"in ME is that once people come here, they become victims of comfort." I like this sentence very much.

every one coming here to Kuwait with basic degree and that is teh end.. they never tries to add up any proferssional qualigficiations once they start enjoying the comforts of ACs and LCD TVs..



Thanks to IIK for bringing out such people.

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