'PAKISTAN'S BUSINESS, ACCOUNTANCY GRADUATES IN HIGH DEMAND ACROSS THE GLOBE'
An exclusive interview with Mr Musharraf Zaman Khan, Executive Director, School of Business Studies
KHALIL AHMED, Senior Correspondent
Nov 27 - Dec 03, 2006
PAGE: Please tell us something about yourself?
MUSHARRAF Z. KHAN (MZK): I am fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan. I qualified CA in 1976, following which I moved to Saudi Arabia and worked with a leading group there for seven years. While working in Saudi Arabia, I realized the need to acquire further qualification for making advancement in the career and joined the University of California, Los Angles, USA. I studied there for two years and acquired specialization in System Analysis and System Design and also gained practical experience. Afterwards, I returned to Pakistan and worked with various national and multinational companies for six years. In 1993, I gave up my career in business and industry and devoted my time to impart education. Initially, I taught at ICAP and ICMAP and later established the School of Business Studies in 1995, which is now being considered as a prestigious Accounting Education Institution both locally and globally.
PAGE: What are the features of the School of Business Studies?
MZK: The School of Business Studies (SBS) was established in 1995 with the objective to provide quality education to the students of Accountancy. SBS is one of the pioneers in Accountancy Education and is accredited with ICAP, ACCA & CIMA. We had started from Saddar Karachi with one class room comprising 41 students. By the grace of God, the SBS has now become a state-of-the-art campus in Clifton with over 1000 students registered in various programmes, besides it has its own publishing house. SBS is considered as a benchmark of quality education and its alumni are working in four continents across the globe.
PAGE: How much time does an individual need to complete CA and other financial/accounting certifications and what are the prospects for such graduates?
MZK: A student can complete CA in five-and-a-half years, whereas ACCA and CIMA can be completed in approximately three years (excluding on-the-job training). Prospects of professional accountants are very bright and will continue to remain the same. Unemployment in the accountancy profession is zero and opportunities are available across the globe, especially in Europe, North America and the Middle East.
PAGE: Would you apprise us about the courses offered during this program? How are these courses different from other accounting certifications such as CIMA, ACCA, CAT?
MZK: Chartered Accountancy is a professional qualification with the focus on specialization in Audit and Accountancy as well as Taxation and other areas of business, whereas ACCA is a purely accounting qualification and CAT is an entry level qualification to become ACCA or to get a job in the field of accounting. CIMA has more focus on Management Accounting.
PAGE: Is CA certification equal to Masters degree? Please brief our readers?
MZK: The Higher Education Commission has given Masters equivalence to the CAs.
PAGE: It is believed that foreign writers author the books for CAs. Are there no books written by our CAs? Please give us the details and reasons.
MZK: It was true in the past. But I am pleased to inform you that by the grace of Almighty Allah we have now developed expertise and are publishing books written by Pakistani authors and the way the things have improved we will InshaAllah be exporting text books to other countries very soon.
PAGE: What is the contribution of your faculty members and students at the international level? (If any in terms of research, jobs, remittances).
MZK: More than 20% of Pakistani CAs are working abroad as respectable professionals. They have created a good image of Pakistan and some of them are holding very prominent and key positions in the Middle East, UK, USA and Canada. They are obviously remitting foreign exchange to Pakistan.
PAGE: CAs are in high demand in public practice, in corporations (public and private), in businesses (large and small), and in the public sector. The demand is high, however, it is believed that the number of graduates is not sufficient? How could we bridge this gap?
MZK: We are fully aware of this problem and are trying to bridge the gap between demand and supply without compromising on quality. Many changes in the education and training scheme have been introduced to attract quality students to Accountancy Profession. As a result, success rate in CA exams has now improved.
PAGE: CAs in public practice spend little time at the office. Alone and with colleagues, they call on clients in many diverse businesses and industries, meeting with managers, auditing financial statements, providing tax, estate and financial planning advice, and providing consulting and advisory services in areas such as corporate finance, corporate recovery and insolvency, business valuations, mergers and acquisitions, control and risk management. This means communication skills play a vital role in the success of any CA. What steps are taken to improve communication skills?
MZK: Communication and interpersonal skills play a vital role in the success of any professional. To develop these skills our curriculum includes Business Communication and Behavioural Studies papers as well as a practical course of skills presentation at the School of Business Studies. We focus on personality grooming each student.
PAGE: CAs in teaching help prepare the next generation of CAs as do the teachers in universities, colleges and professional programs. Do any students of such programs aspire to be teachers?
MZK: Many female students of Professional Accountancy programmes are aspiring teachers and significant number of CAs are already teaching.
PAGE: Would you tell us about some top CA educators in our country?
MZK: Every Chartered Accountant in education field from Karachi to Khyber is working hard with sincerity.
PAGE: What are your views about higher education in Pakistan?
MZK: I can only express my view about Business and Accountancy education in Pakistan. I am fairly satisfied with the quality of education. Best judges for the quality are the prospective employers. Graduates of our Business and Accountancy schools are high in demand across the globe. Our Prime Minister is also a graduate from Pakistan's business school. There is always room for improvement and we are trying to excel in higher education.
PAGE: A word of advice for youngsters.
MZK: Hard work with sincerity and dedication is the key to success. There is no shortcut to success. It is an era of globalization. Prepare yourself for global competition. It is not a threat but an opportunity to prove your talent. I have lots of hopes from our new generation and I am optimistic that they will perform better than their seniors. They are the future of Islam and future of Pakistan and our future is very bright.