Building leadership through foresight with Aditya Maheshwari, CPA, CA, CA (India)

Learn about the career path of CPA Canada member Aditya Maheshwari, senior vice-president and chief accounting officer at OpenText.

Aditya Maheshwari, senior vice-president and chief accounting officer at OpenText, takes a proactive stance on change, valuing foresight from leaders and teams. Read about his experience.

How did you get into the profession?

We had a family friend who was a chartered accountant and I saw how much respect he got. I was really awed and amazed.

What was your career path?

I was recruited by KPMG in India. I was developing my knowledge of U.S. GAAP and advising tech companies, so my wife and I and our two kids came to Canada in 2004. There were more tech companies back then, and a dearth of good technical resource people who knew U.S. GAAP. When Canada decided to adopt IFRS, KMPG sent me to the U.K. in 2009 because the U.K. had already adopted IFRS. I came back to Canada in 2011 and became a partner at KPMG in 2012. Later, I heard about the role at OpenText and expressed my interest.

What are the challenges you face in your industry?

When you are at an accounting firm, people work on your projects, and then they move on. But in industry, I have a team of 125 people. I have the opportunity to help them achieve their career goals. If people are here for a job, this is the wrong place, but if they’re here for careers, it’s the right place. We have very good people and good talent.

In industry, I enjoy the foresight, the vision, supporting the organization, whereas in an accounting profession, you are always dealing with the post-mortem. In a corporation like OpenText, you have the opportunity to lead change, to take the company in a different direction. There are opportunities, acquisitions, and being a U.S.-listed company comes with its own challenges.

What is your biggest business or career accomplishment?

Being the chief accounting officer for OpenText, the largest tech company in Canada, is my greatest achievement. In the accounting profession, at KPMG, I wrote 11 publications and became a technical resource for IFRS. Some people are still using the books and technical materials.

What piece of advice would you give someone moving into industry?

It’s not over until you say it’s over. It’s not easy to get the job you want, so some people get frustrated and give up. Just keep trying. Don’t call it quits just because you weren’t successful the first or second time. When I was trying to get into the Big Four, I applied many times and wasn’t successful. It wasn’t until I was teaching CPA classes that I met a KPMG partner who recruited me. You have to keep doing things and pursuing your passion until you actually achieve it.

Favourite hobby or pastime and why you would recommend it?

I really like travelling if I get an opportunity. I’ve travelled to Japan, Mexico, many other places. But this year, I was in P.E.I., Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and by far, this last trip was the best. It was a holiday – a family road trip. People are so laid back there. I had lunch at an Amish-run restaurant. You meet different people than in your day-to-day work.

Stress management strategies?

Like everyone else, I get stressed when work keeps piling up. I have learned that if you write down things that you need to achieve, you don’t need to remember them all. You want to save your mind to act on things rather than using it to keep a running checklist. So everything I need to do, I have scheduled in my calendar. Even my wife’s birthday and our anniversary. I don’t want to use my brain to remember things when there are other tools I can use. On the weekend I take an hour to plan out the next week and schedule when things need to be done. I think people get stressed because they can’t plan well.

How has being a member of both CPA Canada and FEI Canada benefitted you, either personally or professionally?

Building connections in the industry is important for me, and FEI provides that platform. Being a member of CPA Canada helps me stay connected with everything that’s going on in the profession, [and] connect with new CPAs since we are always on the lookout for fresh talent.