An exception to the norms, EY alumnus Manish Vora, Executive Director, Vice President, CFO Johnson and Johnson (South Asia) shares his story.
Manish Vora worked with a member firm of EY in India as an article intern, from 1997 to 2000 in Mumbai.
Academically driven and a born leader
Born into a traditional Gujrati business family, Manish’s life story has been anything but ordinary. Firmly disciplined with strong principles and values, he has been an exception from the norm in terms of how his decisions have played out.
As Manish was academically strong, his father was convinced he would follow in his footsteps and become a doctor. However, he decided to join and further his family’s diamond business for a few years post completing his schooling. He pursued his graduation from Narsee Monjee College with the thought that he would eventually return to his family business. A piece of advice he received post his graduation changed his entire career journey. He enrolled to become a chartered accountant with the intent that it would help his family better run their diamond business. But fate had a few surprises in store for him.
An accidental entry into a new world
A friend’s encouragement landed Manish at a member firm of EY and introduced him to the corporate world, which Manish then never left. At EY, he worked with the assurance team as well as the tax team on various projects. Having worked on multiple mandates across sectors including manufacturing, financial services and stock markets, Manish feels that he had an exceptional learning experience, which served to cement his foundation. He believes that EY gave him the right platform to learn and build himself as a professional.
After having worked on many assurance projects, Manish chose to move to tax because he wanted to learn the art of making and saving money. He was one of first article trainees who got the opportunity to switch such roles, mainly because of him being a rank holder during CA. He worked in all aspects of tax and feels that, “If not EY, I would not have got the strong foundation in tax”. While Manish was learning a lot and enjoying his stint at EY, the thought of his family business never left his mind and he was very focused on putting this EY experience and learning to good use when he returned to the business.
The exciting corporate journey
“After six months of moving to the corporate side, I was the first recruit in the marketing finance field at Johnson and Johnson’s (J&J) medical division,” says Manish. Having the opportunity to work directly with the Managing Director, CFO and other leaders at J&J’s medical division for over four years, he had a great learning experience.
Living it up each day
According to Manish, being the co-pilot to the Managing Director is both exciting and, in some ways, also re-defining the role of a CFO. He shares, “While your core finance functions remain as your fiduciary responsibility, how you are able to shape the decision-making internally and externally are becoming a critical part of the role. Keeping pace with the dynamically changing skill-set requirements, both for yourself and the team and staying relevant for future, are becoming more important than ever before.”
An industry thought leader
After having spent several years being entrenched in the pharma-consumer sector, he feels very strongly about some aspects of the industry. “The only way to come up the value stream is through innovation and globalization of Indian pharma/medical brands. The scenario is improving now but it will take some more time for India to come to the level and scale of an evolved pharma and medical industry. And for that, infrastructure and an ecosystem where innovation thrives, is what is needed at this time,” he shares.
Note to budding professionals
Manish strongly believes that one must identify and pre-empt future trends and be ahead of the curve in sharpening one’s skills. “Always believe in yourself, you are what you are because of your own personality and uniqueness. There will always be areas of improvement, but never leave who you are and where you come from,” he adds. He sums up life in one sentence — happiness is crazy mathematics, it multiplies when you divide it.