A few short years ago, Prashant Sharma was an Associate CPA Australia member enjoying life in Paris and working at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an auditor. Fours years on, Sharma is now a CPA and a father and he works at The Global Fund in Geneva, Switzerland.
Sharma grew up in Nepal and says his first career choice was to work in the military, “but as the national political landscape changed, the military ceased to be appealing as a career”.
Determined to obtain an international degree, Sharma researched Australia, in time finding an MBA program specialising in accounting at the University of Technology in Sydney.
He worked as a business analyst at Kmart before joining UNESCO as an assistant accountant. He became an associate auditor in the Paris headquarters just over a year after joining the organisation.
“It was exciting to work for a UN organisation,” Sharma reveals. “As an outsider I had always wondered about the work culture and thought the UN to be a mysterious place. When I was on the inside, I carefully studied it: the work culture, the cultural diversity, the bureaucracies and politics.”
After moving to Geneva for his wife’s job, he took six months off to take care of their new baby.
“I was so excited about having the baby that I insisted on staying at home while my wife stepped into her new job. It was also a tremendous opportunity for me to focus on my CPA studies. In those unemployed six months, I cleared all CPA segments.”
Armed with a new degree, Sharma soon found himself working for The Global Fund as an auditor in the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
itbdigital.com recently caught up with Sharma in Geneva, Switzerland. We asked him 8 questions about his life on the move.
You were born in Nepal and completed your studies in India and Australia. What made you decide to study and work abroad?
My job in Nepal was okay but the future prospects did not look very promising. I ended up handling more and more responsibility but with very little prospect for growth. In addition to marketing, I was also asked to take care of accounting and reporting. It was then I started taking an interest in accounting but also realised my limitations in the subject. The job was becoming mundane and I always wanted to obtain an international degree.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in moving?
Convincing my mother and organising finances for studies. Mother eventually was convinced and family and friends threw their weight behind getting the finances sorted. I soon found myself in Sydney.
What did you miss the most about your home country?
The social life. While it was exciting to meet new people and get educated about their culture, the absence of close friends and a social network was challenging.
What do you like the most about living in Switzerland?
It is a quiet, clean and well organised city. Everything seems to be working so well. If a bus schedule says that a bus is arriving at 15:47, then eight out of nine times the bus will arrive at 15:47.
What are the biggest differences in work cultures between France and Switzerland?
Paris is a little laidback and has an “it will be done tomorrow” attitude. Geneva is more serious and people/the state take their responsibility/place in society very seriously. I personally found Paris more fun but life in Geneva is easier, though a little too expensive at times.
What’s the one app you can’t live without?
Siri. With my bad French I can never get the spelling of the addresses right. With Siri I just need to say it without having to think about accurate spelling.
Wine or water at lunch?
Water. I work out during lunch and the alcohol in wine interferes with my post workout protein drink.
Describe your ideal retirement.
Australian sand, sun and sea. A bit of wine and a BBQ from time to time.
Going Global is a series that looks at the challenges and rewards of moving for work in today’s global economy. Do you know someone working away from home? Email aeve.baldwin at cpaaustralia.com.au