Case Study – Career Change Journey from a Pharmacist to a Successful CA


Last Updated: August 27, 2022
no preview

We’ve all heard the adage ‘The only constant in life is Change’. Change is inevitable. And more often than not, change can be good.

Did you know, Ellen Degeneres, one of the funniest people in the world, used to be a paralegal? Or that Anil Kumble has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering?

There are many such examples of people skyrocketing to the top, after a career switch.

We at Mentoria know that the career journey is anything but straightforward. That’s why we offer career counselling at any point during your career. Our 4-step career guidance solution helps us find the right career fit for you from 3 streams, 850+ courses & 12,000+ careers. Discover more here:

One such story is of Narendra Negandhi. A former pharmacist, he quit his job at 25  to pursue a career as a Chartered Accountant. After over three years of studying for 20 hours a day, he was finally able to leave behind the life of a medical representative. Over the span of more than 30 years, he has been part of the management teams for many well-established companies and being the Chief Financial Officer for Lavasa Corporation.

Narendra Negandhi

Sharing his journey with Mentoria, Negandhi emphasises the need to love what you do for a living. Here are some excerpts from the conversation:

How did you get into pharmacy?

Back in those times, the notion was, if you’ve scored well in SSC, you need to take up science. This thought persists even today, but not to the same extent. Since I scored well, I was compelled to opt for science. I was, however, tempted to go for commerce. Unfortunately, I was unable to score well later studying science. I then asked my extremely strict father for permission to switch streams, but he refused.

As I did not score enough marks to secure admission into medicine or dentistry, I opted for the next best option, i.e. pharmacy. I completed my graduation and took up a marketing job. I was a medical representative for a small startup pharma company in Mumbai.

What made you quit?

Once, I was required to leave for a city called Morbi in Gujarat for a meeting with a client. The night before, a flood warning was issued in the area. I naturally decided not to go. When I called up my boss to inform him, he accused me of being lazy and incompetent. This vexed me, and I resigned with immediate effect.

After two months of unemployment, I started questioning my decision. I was going through a midlife crisis in my 20s. My parents were unhappy with my decision and began pestering me to look for another job. To their delight, I received a job offer not long after from another reputed pharmacy firm. The remuneration was good, and the position high. But I surprised everyone including myself by declining the offer. I decided to put my interests ahead of my parents’.

At Mentoria, we pride ourselves on our emphasis on interest as a factor for choosing a career path. That’s why Mentoria’s holistic psychometric assessment test combines your interests, personality and skills to help you find the ideal career for you!

How did you decide to become a Chartered Accountant?

As I mentioned earlier, I was always inclined towards the Commerce stream. My elder brother had just completed his CA. At this time, the course was gaining popularity for the reasons of it being extremely challenging. The percentage of successful students was between 2-5%. I saw this as a challenge and started preparing for it. I took my first step towards my true calling.

What was it like starting in an entirely new field?

Initially, it seemed impossible. Everything was Greek to me. Accounting, audit, taxation and costing, which I knew nothing about except how to spell it. I burnt the midnight oil preparing for the exam. Another challenge was being the oldest and most inexperienced one there. Everyone else looked down on me during the first year of my articleship.

I even failed in my first attempt at Inter CA. However, I did not lose heart. Fortunately, my family and friends had my back. With their help, I was able to pass soon enough. During my first attempt, after writing an accounts exam for the entire duration of three hours, I actually scored zero. Yes, ZERO! But in my next attempt, that was the subject in which I scored the highest of all.

I started working in an automobile company. Over these years I’ve changed several jobs, from startups to well-established companies, including one overseas.

Did you ever regret any of your decisions?

Looking back, I have no regrets. There was a period of scepticism in the early stages, but I am glad I took that leap of faith.  Yes, the sacrifices made by my family members played a very important role, and I consider myself lucky to be a part of such a supportive family. But would I think of switching back? Absolutely not.

It is not that a medical representative cannot be happy. I, however, would not have been happy staying as one. Giving up a spot at the top of the ladder in one industry for one at the bottom rung in another can be unsettling and hard-fought. The rewards — landing an energising, successful gig that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning — are well worth the risk of falling flat on your face.

If you set your mind to something you love, there is nothing that can stop you from being happy. Your starting point is to really think about what’s important to you in a career. What sort of work environment do you think you’ll be happy in? What energises you most work-wise? What do you naturally love doing and are good at? These questions will help you to identify some possible avenues.

Channel your fascination and Interest into a career you love. Take the Mentoria holistic career assessment test, to find the right career fit for you based on your interest, personality, and ability. Speak to our career counsellors here at Mentoria who can guide you from any point in your career journey.