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Teacher or Consultant? How I Navigated A Career Dilemma
I'm sharing my career path and what I've learned along the way for others interested in the consulting profession.
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Interested in a fast-paced, challenging and high-performance learning environment? Those are some of the key points that initially intrigued me with pursuing a profession in Consulting, and a decade later I am still driven and excited about my work.

An introduction about myself, my name is Vaitheki Tharmaratnam and I’ve worked across most of the Big 4 Audit & Consulting firms over my entire career. I’m a Manager at KPMG, with an industry focus in Banking, Wealth & Asset Management, and I have experience leading transformations with a deep focus in incorporating FinTech enabled Digital Transformation. My career path was not prototypical of a typical management consultant, it consisted of meandering through different pit-stops before I ultimately landed to where I am today. So how did I get here?

Let me take you back in time, re-wind to a little over a decade ago where the world was a different place with the financial crisis and FinTech proper started to emerge. I was in my final year wrapping up my undergraduate degree with a double major in Physics & Mathematics (specializing in Geophysics) and minor in Accounting at UofT St. George, and I was conflicted about the next leg of my journey. Like a true Consultant I defined the framework to evaluate all feasible options, synthesized outcomes and provided recommendations. At the time the following 3 options appealed to me, either: 1) pursue my Masters and continue in academia, 2) become a teacher or 3) embark into Consulting. It was a great debate in my household and constantly sought the advice of my parents and brother. My brother was always my role model and his career path was like mine, except he switched into Consulting after pursuing his PhD in Geophysics. Now he’s a Partner at a top Consulting firm leading their Digital Health practice, and I’m always in awe and have and will always look up to him.

After much discussion, I ended up going the teaching route and went to OISE UofT to become a high-school teacher in Physics & Mathematics. During my Bachelor of Education (BEd.), the economy started to tank, and I started to worry about job prospects in the teaching profession. So, I quickly shifted gears and began to aggressively participate in on campus recruitment and made it my mission to break into the corporate world before completing my BEd. After countless networking events and interviews, I landed my first role at a Big 4 firm and focused on Audit and Assurance. That was my big break and gave my first exposure into the corporate world. It also gave me an opportunity to better understand the Accounting profession and develop a foundational understanding of financials statement assessment / analysis across different clients.

A few years in and a head-hunter reached out with a potential opportunity with a well renowned consulting firm. Now I was at a different conflict in life and debating between either continuing in Accounting or starting fresh into Consulting and made a leap of faith into Consulting. After that I’ve been fortunate to work with a few different Consulting firms, travelling escapades and gaining an abundance of experience. Most notably I was fortunate to live and work on Wall Street and work with a top tier investment bank for a little over a year. Fast forward several years later and I’ve become a seasoned consulting professional, led and managed engagements for Canadian Banks and Investment Firms, as well as presented at the 2019 Montreal FinTech Forum in front of 300+ C-Suite and Director level clients. This year has been a little different for all and adjusting to the new norm of working from home. It’s been an interesting journey the past few months and conducting my client conversations in the comfort of my home. But the key points that lured me in Consulting are keeping me driven, challenged and excited about what each day will hold …

Stay tuned for my next article where I'll share my advice, and insights into the Financial Services and FinTech world. Follow me on TC to stay up to date on my latest pieces and feel free to message me directly if you have questions:

https://tamilculture.com/user/vaitheki-tharmaratnam1

 

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Vaitheki Tharmaratnam
Manager
Canada
Vaitheki is a seasoned Manager with over 10+ years of experience in Banking, Wealth Man...
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