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CA Record Holder: Nandini Agrawal’s Inspiring Journey

Ms Nandini Agrawal is a remarkable young professional who has had tremendous success in her chartered accountancy career. She has a national record of getting AIR 1 in CA Finals at 19 and AIR 31 in CA Inter at 16.
In this interview, she shares the inspiring story of her journey, from preparing for the CA exams through self-study and online resources to adapting to dynamic work environments at top firms like PwC and BCG. Nandini also discusses the valuable lessons she has learned about overcoming setbacks and rejections and how she leverages her platform to motivate others facing similar challenges. Additionally, she shares her professional and personal aspirations for the future and provides insightful advice for young professionals seeking to thrive in their careers.

Can you share more about your journey of achieving remarkable academic success in chartered accountancy?

It all started with my parents’ dream of me becoming a CA. They wanted my brother and me to become CAs and start our firm. After 12th, we made it our dream and embarked on a journey to get this esteemed degree. In 2017, when we started preparing for CA Inter, we had no clue how to start. Firstly, we decided to do self-study since our hometown didn’t have any coaching. Then we came across some YT videos and decided to prepare from online classes and YT videos. We didn’t know much about how to apply for articles, but we figured it out step by step. For articleship, I shifted to Gurgaon when I was only 16, which was a turning point in my life, professionally and personally. The extent to which I’ve evolved as a person in those 3 years is just amazing. Every day, I used to learn about something new which I’d never heard before. I didn’t have access to the best resources throughout my academics, but I’ve always tried to make the best out of the situation. Success is not having everything you want but achieving milestones with whatever you have.

Working in dynamic environments such as PwC and  BCG, what valuable lessons have you learned about adapting to different work cultures and industries?

1. Observe – what you can learn from observing can’t be learned by any other means. The more you observe, notice, and analyze, the more you learn. When you move to a new city, especially from a Tier 3/4 to a metro city, you might not feel comfortable asking all the questions because of the fear of looking dumb in front of many. In such situations, observing is the best way to learn.

2. Be resourceful—The more you help someone, the more likely they are to be interested in your learning and growth. Attitude matters! Many times, it’s not the smartest who wins but the one who puts in the effort.

3. Be open to learning—When you move to a city and work with people from diverse cities and cultures, you learn many new things. These things help you develop a new perspective, but if you are not agile and don’t want to change your perception, no one can make you learn new things.

As someone recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records, India Book of Records, and TEDx, how do you leverage your platform and experiences to inspire others, especially those facing similar challenges in their career journeys?

I share my journey as a story so that people in similar situations can motivate themselves that if I can do it, they can. I share my study schedule, revision planner, daily routine, and resources I used for my prep. Further, I also share how my family played an essential role in motivating me.

Looking ahead, what are your professional and personal goals for the future?

One should understand that professional and personal relationships are essential aspects of life, and none should be ignored. Irrespective of how much I work or study, I’ve always tried to maintain good personal relations with my friends and the -people around me, and that’s what I aspire to become.

Professionally, I want to create/work on something that truly solves a problem and will be useful for future generations. At the same time, I aspire to be a good daughter, sister, and friend and be dedicated to the future roles I’ll play personally.

I want to create an ecosystem where my professional and personal life complement each other and not conflict. This is what my mom always keeps telling me.

Can you elaborate on how your experiences with rejection and perseverance have shaped your approach to leadership and mentorship, especially in guiding others through similar career obstacles?

Rejections are part of life, and in fact, they are the reason for achieving something better. KPMG and EnY rejected me because I was under 18. HUL rejected me right after I became a CA, and Bain denied me. One of the Investment Banking firms rejected me because they felt I was too young for the role.

So far in life, I’ve always found something better whenever I’ve been rejected, which I’ve realized in hindsight. Something might seem very appealing to you prima facie, but over time, you know that “good, only that I didn’t get it.” Everyone is rejected at some point, but what differentiates success from others is the power of resilience—recognising and accepting the mistakes.

How do you stay motivated and continuously seek opportunities for growth and development in your career, and what advice would you give to others aspiring to achieve similar levels of success?

When I achieve a target, I absorb, accept, celebrate, and take some time off. Cooling off is one of the reasons that keeps me motivated and energized. For example, after working hard for months, I’d plan a trip to a beach or mountains with friends. Then, I set new goals, achieved them, celebrated, and moved on. These small breaks motivate me (like I keep telling my brother ek baar ye kaam ache se ho jaega, we’ll go for a trip!). Work hard, chill, work harder…..

My advice is to introspect yourself continuously. What went wrong? What can be better? Why are you doing what you are doing? Be clear about the objective and purpose of whatever you do.

I always tell myself that I can do better and that great things are yet to come. This thought process keeps me motivated.

What key factors or qualities differentiate those who bounce back from setbacks and thrive in their careers from those who struggle to overcome obstacles?

Perseverance—Anyone can be motivated to improve after success, but it’s hard to show up when you’ve failed six times continuously. Those with perseverance are empowered to push through challenges, overcome obstacles, and achieve their goals.

Resilience – Imagine you failed in 7th standard half-yearly exams; the entire class knows this. The next day, you started working hard even when people bullied you. If you have this attitude – ignoring negativity, working on yourself, accepting failure, you will bounce back someday! Resilience helps you to move on quickly from personal or professional shortcomings.

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Kanika Mahtoliya
Kanika Mahtoliya
Kanika Mahtoliya, currently pursuing a Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communication at Graphic Era Hill University. With a strong passion for storytelling and a focus on business journalism, she is currently serving as a features writer at Business Review Live.