"The day you stop learning, you might as well not breathe!” says Shankar Kanabiran, EY’s Financial Services Organisation (FSO) Advisory Leader. Shankar’s early years in Accenture as a technology analyst where his first client was a bank served him well for his current role. “The early years gave me a good grounding in the nuts and bolts of technology, specifically in the banking industry. In the later years, I began focusing on large-scale transformation both in IT and business programmes. Essentially, we help our clients transform their business through implementation of new systems, processes and organisation structure,” shares Shankar.
Being in Accenture for over 16 years and then in Malaysia Petroleum Resources Corporation (MPRC) not only influenced his working style but also exposed him to two different work environments – the former, a firm well-known for its technology consulting practice on large-scale projects and the latter, the opportunity to see the inner workings of the government. Hence his view on learning: “You never stop learning. Always challenge and push yourself out of your comfort zone. I had a mentor who once told me that the day you walk into a client’s environment and you don’t get sweaty palms, it’s time to find a new role,” says Shankar.
Which is why Shankar is a big advocate of coaching and mentoring the young talent that work with him. “Coaching and mentoring are key to nurturing talent. We need to ensure we provide a platform for our people to continuously learn and improve themselves. In addition, coaching and mentoring are also equally important to ensure the people you work with know that you are there when they need advice and guidance,” shares Shankar.
Aside from learning, Shankar believes that resilience and focus are important to young talent. “In your career, you will face challenges. However, being resilient and focused will ensure that you will come out stronger. Never give up and always believe in your capabilities whilst keeping an open mind to improve on your weaknesses,” he says.
Do your best and enjoy the ride. You can only plan so much in your life
That said, Shankar also subscribes to the belief that one shouldn’t forget the joys in life and to take things easy. “Do your best and enjoy the ride,” he says. “You can only plan so much in your life.”
THE BEST CAREER ADVICE I RECEIVED “I’ve had a lot of advice given to me but I think one that influenced me the most would be that from my former mentor. He mentioned that as a firm, if you would like to give 24 hours of your time, it will gladly take all the time you can offer. So pace yourself – focus on what is important and most importantly, never forget your family.”