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Volunteering gave Akash a head-start

"I totally enjoy number crunching and analysis."

For Akash Punjabi, a combined master’s degree in finance and accounting has been an important stepping stone to achieve his career goal of becoming a financial analyst.

Recently graduating with a Master of International Finance and Master of Professional Accounting, Akash came to Deakin from his native India with an undergraduate commerce degree and some valuable industry experience.

During my undergraduate studies [in Mumbai] I gained work experience in a Fortune 500 company, then a mid-size accounting firm where I built my accounting and analytical skills by working on credit monitoring analysis reports, grant of loan reports and the financial statements. In my final year, I worked in a stock brokerage firm boosting my knowledge of the stock market and the various financial instruments,’ he says.

Akash says that a big drawcard for choosing postgraduate study at Deakin was the calibre of the Deakin staff he met at a study expo in India.  

‘They were so friendly, listened patiently and provided genuine advice…and the fact that I could pursue a dual master’s degree was a huge advantage along with Deakin’s high student-satisfaction rating.’

During his undergraduate studies, Akash was awarded Deakin’s Vice Chancellor’s Meritorious Scholarship and says that there was never any ‘looking back’ about his decision to undertake a postgraduate program which provided many highlights.

‘One of my favourite units was Treasury Dealing which was simulated trading conducted in the high-tech Telstra Trading Room on campus,’ he recalls.

‘We were divided into groups of two, eventually forming seven banks. We had to compete with each other in an intra-bank market. It was super fun and thrilling to quote different rates, modify it and try to have the most optimum strategy of buy and sell to make a profit. It was a real roller coaster ride … the emotions, pressure and tension that we faced were exhilarating and one that traders often face in their real life. Clinching the top spot and becoming the most profitable bank in the last trading session was like the icing on the cake.’

Now working with Deakin’s Global Engagement team, Akash assists with payables, receivables, reallocation of funds, reconciliations and other tasks across the portfolio’s responsibilities.

‘I’ve also started working on agent commissions, fees, refunds and procedure manuals. Every day has new challenges, new reports to run, and new things to learn. The role gives me the opportunity a gain a lot of knowledge and I’m absolutely relishing it.’

Making the most of his study, volunteer and work opportunities, Akash has built an impressive list of skills and experience.

As a volunteer for CPA Australia, he was recently recognised for his efforts by being recognised a ‘Future Leader’ a recognition which is given to the most outstanding volunteer in each state.

He was also the co-founder of the Deakin Finance Association, vice president of the Deakin Graduate Business Society, Statistical Analyst for the Faculty of Business and Law’s 'Student Mentor Drop-In-Station' and Financial Consultant for the Impetus Consulting Group.

‘I strongly believe that my involvement in numerous voluntary roles helped immensely in reaching where I am today … it’s significantly important to immerse yourself in the university experience,’ he reflects.

Building on his current knowledge and skills, Akash hopes to one day undertake a CPA or a CA qualification as he continues to foster his career in accounting and finance.

‘I totally enjoy number crunching and analysis and have been very fortunate to secure a relevant role following my graduation … a dual degree in accounting and finance has been perfect for me,’ he says.

And his advice for anyone contemplating postgraduate studies?

‘There are many opportunities at Deakin – from societies to sports to internships to wonderful volunteer programs – and all of them are very rewarding. By giving your 100 per cent you can make friends, enhance your skills, build networks, expand career opportunities and most importantly change your life like I did.’

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