By Anjali Nauriyal
Professional to the Core
He is amongst thousands of Doonites blazing a trail on home soil, with international quality of influence in his area of work. Meet Verendra Kalra and his wife, Sangeeta, chartered accountants by profession, who have made ‘excellence’ the chief attribute and trait of, both, their personal and professional lives.
On a formidable mission:
Verendra has come a long way since the time he was a young boy hailing from a humble and simple family living in Race Course, Dehradun, and studying at St Joseph’s Academy.
“I hadn’t thought in my wildest dreams that one day I would become a CA, as I always wanted to help my father run the family paints and hardware business by the name of Goverdhan and Co. on Raja Road, which was started by my grandfather, after he migrated to India from Pakistan, who was an inspiration for the family,” discloses Verendra, who today runs a practice spanning 30 years and has acquired skills in almost all areas of the profession including direct tax, indirect tax, assurance services and consultancy.
He retired from Nangia and Co, after serving as senior partner for 21 solid years and, thereafter, floated his own firm. The husband-wife duo are today at the helm of this initiative where they help their staff and colleagues follow a dream. If their firm today is regarded as a Mecca of accounting, then the credit certainly goes to Verendra who has believed in continually encouraging his staff to reach out to their potential. He has inspired, facilitated and supported his partners and team members to excel in their chosen area of work and feels proud of them today.
In fact he has carved a niche in training youngsters and is a regular speaker at various seminars on topics of professional interest, such as those related to income tax, analysis of union budget and, above all, accounting standards at seminars held at various institutions and branches of ICAI. He is a regular speaker on analysis of union budget at various forums. He has also conducted in-house training programmes for officials of ONGC from time to time. He has delivered more than 70 lectures till date across the country.
“For me it is important that I pass on my knowledge and learning to the next generations,” he avers. “Life being so precious, as a person I am generally excited about everything in life. Even in a subject like Accounting, which may be regarded by many as dull and drab, I have tried to bring in continuing research, using information technology and knowledge management systems, that makes work very creative, interesting and which sets up standards of excellence in our practice, putting it at par with the top firms of the country. I guess I have a bit of teacher in me. I like to teach even if people may not like it. I love to enhance people’s capabilities in whatever little way I can possibly do.”
Destined to be together:
Sangeeta and Verendra believe that their love is greatly defined by their sense of social responsibility that makes them contribute their bit to the betterment of their surroundings and condition of people they may meet and interact with.
She recalls how they first met. “Before marriage, I was employed for a brief time with his firm. He was my boss and I called him Kalra Sir,” she reminiscences. “Once when he came to drop me home from some official work on his mobike, my mom saw him and was shocked to see that ‘Kalra Sir’ was so young and eligible. At the first opportunity, mom met his father with a marriage proposal and thinking that probably his son had egged her on, he readily agreed. So that’s how our engagement came about. I remember I had to formally ask him for leave, to shop for my engagement, and he most reluctantly granted me just one day,” she chuckles.
Today, the duo has ambitious goals and has chartered a fruitful professional path. They have two lovely daughters, Kritika and Vedika.
In other words, life for the duo has a lot to do with spiritual inclinations. They believe that just as a candle cannot burn without fire, humans must not live without a spiritual life. Social service is an integral part of this belief. Give more and expect less, is their mantra to live happily. Verendra reminisces that from his early 30s, he was always involved in multiple ways in doing his bit to pay back to society. He was very actively involved in the local branch of the CA association for 9 years and contributed significantly to raising funds and setting up the branch building and its office, which today is the epicenter for housing activities for CA students in Doon. He served as a member of the Dehradun Round Table and headed it twice as chairman. His significant achievement during these tenures was carrying out rebuilding of 7 dilapidated government school buildings in Doon.
This apart, he has served as Chairman of the ‘41ers Association of India’, has been governing body member with the IMA Blood Bank, and served as member of the Audit Committee of Doon Club. Also, he is a member of the Doon Citizen’s Council and E-Rotary Club of Doon.
He is also a nominated member of the Startup Council of Uttarakhand Government, member of the Investors’ Grievances Redressal Committee of BSE, Uttarakhand, and was a member of the core committee of the Bombay Chartered Accountants Society, governing body member of the Institute of Internal Auditors, New Delhi for 3 years, and was also a co-opted member on the Internal Audits Standards Board of ICAI (IASB) New Delhi in 2010.
Further, he is currently a nominated member on the MSME Facilitation Council of the Uttarakhand Government and also the Chairman of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Uttarakhand Chapter. He is active in assisting Venture Catalysts, an Angel Fund, in local partnership for building the eco-system for startups in Uttarakhand. He is also running his own charitable foundation in the name of ‘VKC Foundation’, through which he is supporting multiple causes, including education of girls from underprivileged backgrounds.
Sangeeta too is passionate about helping students from economically weaker backgrounds to crack the CA exam, and provides career guidance on honorary basis.
All these initiatives go to show the range and scale of their commitments. “We believe that ingenuity and hard work combine to bring about miracles,” he underlines. “And if we play it right then we are bound to gain tremendously in the process.”
Of Guidance and Penmanship:
Genuine aspirants working with them are bound to realise that the difference between failure and success is doing things not nearly right, but exactly right. “Also, the key to success, we believe, is in adapting to constant change,” he underlines. “Also, as the adage goes, the world makes way for those who know where they are heading and how. They know exactly how to focus on the basics and the minutest of details. Basically cracking the success code is a game of knowledge, hard work and experience. The ‘ground rules’ and ‘first principles’ always remain the same. If you do things fundamentally right, you will never go wrong. We never lose sight of this thought process. Our effort is to motivate the new comers in the profession by explaining that, if you do your homework well, nothing is difficult. Our mantra is to motivate our team members to measure themselves not by what they have accomplished in the present, but by what they should accomplish in the future by developing their innate abilities,” he elaborates.
To spread the fruits of his learning, Verendra has also authored several articles and publications, besides giving lectures. He has authored three major publications for The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, including – the basic draft of the Guidance Note published in 2004 by the Research Committee on Accounting in Schools, the basic draft of the Technical Guide published by the Internal Audit Standards Board, ICAI in 2010 on internal audit of educational institutions, and the basic draft for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India in 2010 on consideration of law and regulations in an internal audit.
Passing on a legacy:
Kritika and Vedika, having schooled from Welham Girls, and who are now training to be a lawyer and CA, respectively, cherish the legacy of trying to do ‘right’ in everything, which they have inherited from their doting father. “Even in school we were never found breaking rules,” Kritika shares with a sense of pride. “Ethics is in our blood. And this has made our life much easier.” Vedika who is training in her father’s office reveals that she gets no preferential treatment and appreciates that.
The girls have inherited a love of classical vocal music from their mom and aspire to be singers. From their father they have inculcated hobbies such as bird watching, photography, trekking, painting and reading.
Today, the family collectively believes that they must evolve every day in life. This is the only way they can be true to God!