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  • Punished for Excellence

    By shining Light

    12 November, 2005 will be firmly etched in my memory for the rest of my life. It was on this day that I formally became a member of a prestigious Canadian professional body. The Admissions Ceremony made me feel proud of my achievement. A ceremony -- which reminded me of the sacrifices that I had made to earn the designation; in the end it made you feel that all the sacrifices made was indeed worth it. An event such as this is always unforgettable in an individual’s life.

    Every student in the Program has to face challenges in the process of earning the coveted designation. Many students leave the program due to its intensity and the difficulty to cope with the rigorous nature of the program coupled with job and family related responsibilities. But have you heard of this: a student, who has been lauded for excellence at the work place is terminated from his job when he is on the verge of earning the designation and is replaced by another student within days. This is my story.

    I commenced the program at a Senior level in March 2002, just a month after I migrated from India. Deciding to pursue an accounting career in Canada was easy as I am a Chartered Accountant from India and have always been a professional accountant through out my work life. Even before my arrival, I had already decided to pursue this particular designation based upon the research conducted on the three designations.

    As with all new comers, it is very difficult to obtain a job in your field especially when you do not have Canadian experience. It took me one full year to obtain a full time job in the accounting field. How did I obtain this job? I met another student at a exam review session in May 2002. A rapport developed between us immediately. We, in fact, wrote the paper together. As I was struggling to land a job, in February 2003, I received a call from this student regarding the a position that was available on account of the incumbent having resigned. This position was in one of the largest Canadian law firms and reported to this student who, incidentally holds the same designation as me (he earned his designation a few months after I joined the firm). To my surprise, I got the job quite easily after meeting the CFO. I decided to take the plunge and joined the firm on 7 February, 2003; frankly I didn't have much of a choice .

    The senior student as mentioned above was the person I reported to during my entire tenure of 2.5 years at the firm. Both the Year 2003 and Year 2004 appraisals were conducted by him.

    The Year 2004 appraisal was conducted on 15th December 2004. Our performance is measured based on 9 parameters. I exceeded expectations in 4: technical knowledge, accuracy, written communication skills, and computer knowledge. I met expectations in 4: timeliness, willingness to work, responsibility, supervision. Only one area required improvement: inter-personal skills. The reference letter that was issued after my termination states: He was well liked by the members of his team in our accounting department. Overall assessment: meets expectations

    The final Experience form signed by the manager was submitted to the accounting body on 13 May 2005. This form was signed on 05 May 2005. The following was stated in the comments section by the manager:
    1) That I am a very dependable and hardworking person.
    2) That I make good financial judgements.
    It took me two months to get the form signed. Contrast this with the first form which was signed by the same person and done quite spontaneously.

    I wrote the last paper on 06 June 2005 and returned back to work on 08 June 2005. Now comes the African coup.

    June 20, 2005 – This is the day I will remember for all the wrong reasons. A meeting was held between me, my manager and the HR manager during which my performance was called into question vide an unsigned memo. This meeting was held moments after a presentation was made by the top most official at the firm regarding the firm’s 5 year strategic plan. One of the goals of the firm is to become an employer of choice.
    The memo stated the following –
    As discussed, the areas of your performance which requires immediate and sustained improvement are:
    1) Taking care to follow instructions from your manager.
    2) Responding to inquiries from your manager in a timely manner.
    3) Completing projects on a timely basis and by deadlines set by your manager.
    4) Maintaining communication with your manager regarding the status of ongoing projects.
    The timing of this memo is particularly pertinent; two weeks after I wrote the last paper and about 1.5 months after the Experience form was signed by my manager. Suddenly I became a non dependable person. I was completely shocked.

    July 06, 2005 – at my own initiative held a meeting with the top most offical aforementioned, to discuss about the memo. . At the meeting, he clearly stated that the CFO cannot work effectively without me – this is perhaps the best compliment one can earn and is clearly reflective of my performance. Two weeks later, I was terminated.

    12 July 2005 -- I received a letter from the professional body approving my experience as part the designation granting process.

    19 July 2005 -- I was terminated from the firm. For the first time in my life and hopefully, this will be the only time, I was punished for excellence.

    26 July 2005 -- an advertisement appears on the firm’s website for recruiting a Financial Analyst. The job description given in this advertisement is similar to what is stated in the Experience form. A student was recruited for this position. This student left the firm sometime in November 2005. The same advertisement appears on the website from December 6, 2005 to February 17, 2006. A person was recruited for this position. This individual left/was let go in March 2006. The same advertisement appeared again in the same month. At the time of writing this piece, the advertisement ceased to appear.

    The results of the last examination was announced on 28 July 2005 – passed the exam. By the way, I passed all the exams at the first attempt and was a Top 5 student in one of the final level papers. In another course that I completed in Set. 2005 from a University in Western Canada, I was an A+ student.

    28 July 2005: received the reference letter from the HR Manager which states I possess excellent technical skills, is very accurate in his work, and was well liked by the members of his team in our accounting department. The letter does not contain even one negative statement. On the termination date, I was told by the HR Manager that I am required to provide her name for reference purposes. As far as I understand, in the case of the previous incumbent, my manager did allow him to use his name as a reference. In fact, he used to boast that the previous incumbent secured the job due to the reference he had given. Two of the major placement agencies (they were one of the sponsors of the 2005 Admissions Ceremony) refused to represent me due to my inability to provide my manager’s name and contact number as a reference; they stated that it is one of the rules to speak to the direct supervisor/manager. Many recruiters have asked me: Why did you leave?—this has been the most common question. Were you in a contractual kind of work? Some have even said: This is politics. In the case of some organizations, their internet job applications clearly states that the Supervisor’s name and contact number must be provided – I cannot apply for these jobs. An email has been sent out to the HR Manager on 21 November 2005 requesting for a meeting with the manager to sort out the reference issue for which till today I haven’t received a reply. Nor have I received a reply to the email that asked for the reasons for my termination.

    November 12, 2005 – attended the Admission to Membership ceremony. The ceremony was awesome and organized to perfection. It makes you feel and realize what a monumental achievement it is to earn the designation. This day was one of the happiest days of my life even though I was unemployed and struggling to land a job. When I took the podium to collect my certificate, it was a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life. It is definitely worth it.

    After the termination, I joined as a member of Pre-paid Legal Services Canada Inc.
    According to my lawyer, I could file a wrongful dismissal suit against the firm but it will not be cost effective. The suit can be filed for proving a point – monetarily it is not feasible. According to her, at the most I can get two more weeks of additional pay. I haven't pursued legal action against the firm.

    My current situation: Since the past ten months, I have been searching for a job. The termination has raised a red flag as can be expected. Eventually I will overcome the crisis. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can prevent me from achieving my goals in life. We may not have control over certain events that occur in our lives but we definitely do have control over our reaction to these events. The true character of a human being is tested during such situations.

    In March 2006, I took the citizenship oath. Thats two oaths within a span of one year.

    Should I leave this country. Why not? This is a globalized world. Jobs are going to developing countries, especially India and China; so you go along with it. Highly skilled professionals must be globally mobile. I know of one doctor who works 8 months in India and 4 months in the US; he is a US citizen of Indian origin.
    Per an Economic Intelligence Unit(EIU) report, a highly regarded outfit, between 2005 and 2020, 142 million jobs will be created in India; thats about 30% of new jobs in the world. Many new jobs, instead of being created in the developed world, will directly be created in India. A great economic shift is occurring whereby in the developed world professions that require the personal touch will be in high demand; doctors, nurses, teaching, media related due to cultural factors, mining related professionals; while others will move to developing world.
    PriceWaterHouse Global Outlook 2050: Economic size: On Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) basis China will be the largest, US and India will be of the same size. These 3 countries will dominate the world economic size. Any thing happens here will affect the whole world. But, at the individual level, both China and India will fail to reach the developed world's living standards. Indian living standards could be equal to the living standards in Spain today. This report prompted an article in Europe titled: Whither Europe, Cometh India. What will it be in 2100: The world belongs to India and China. Who knows? Maybe there wont be any countries, by then; just one world and global citizens. One country: Earth. Citizen of Earth.
    None of us will be there, nor will our kids.

    Enjoy Life, folks. Have fun.


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