The Global Financier – Indran Purushothaman
Global financier Indran Purushothaman (MAppFin 2001) has been doing for decades what labour market pundits predict is the work path of the future – pursuing a project-oriented career as an independent consultant.
Working on large-scale transformation and infrastructure projects throughout Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and North America seems like a glamorous lifestyle – but in reality, it’s tough.
“As a consultant you live by your capabilities and you need to be comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty,” he says.
Two factors, he says, are key to maintaining a successful career as a consultant – your capabilities and your networks. Purushothaman has paid a lot of attention to both.
Since obtaining his accountancy credentials Purushothaman has been studying. He completed honours in accountancy, an MBA and later a Masters in Applied Finance.
Early on he identified what parts of his CV needed attention and sought out roles that filled the gaps – moving from bread and butter accountancy, to project work, into strategy and later external advisory roles with KPMG. He also landed work on the privatisation of Victoria’s utility industries, valuing gas contracts “to the tune of $1.1 billion”.
If Purushothaman needs experience in a particular area he’ll chase the work regardless of its location. An appetite for complex transactions led him to New York and then a 12-month contract working at the housing finance giant Fannie Mae, in Washington. Leading a project to improve the closing of monthly accounts, he came face to face with the impact of the Global Financial Crisis.
“The transactions were so complex that I don’t think anyone undersood the impact,’’ he says.
Now, he observes, networking is the only way to get prime roles. “In the US I went to a lot of industry functions, while in Abu Dhabi I attended a lot of geo-political talks. You never know who you will meet.
“A third of your time needs to be networking and drumming up new business. If you can’t do that then consulting is going to be a challenge.”
But the lifestyle isn’t for everyone. “It has an impact on your personal life. I remain single, as it’s hard to maintain family links let alone a relationship when you are working in different countries.”
Back in Melbourne contemplating a project management refresher course, Purushothaman’s advice is simple. “Cultivate networks from an early stage in your career. Build capabilities and understand the dynamics of the business. Make sure you are always learning.”
– Angela Martinkus
Watch a webinar with Indran and find out how you can position yourself for a global career