Prawma Tapashi Khan, FCCA
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
A professional with great enthusiasm and drive who operates with honesty, diversity, and creativity. Mrs. Prawma Tapashi Khan’s significant work experience over the past 11 years has taught her how to operate under extreme pressure and stress, both independently and in teams. She has both direct and indirect experience leading teams. She also has a strong sense of self-motivation when it comes to learning, and she has displayed data-driven efforts. In addition, she has successfully built connections with stakeholders at all levels and forged significant alliances with organizations that regulate government, employment, and education.
Mrs. Prawma has been appointed Bangladesh country manager for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). She graduated from Kaplan Financial UK with an ACCA. She had previously attended Dhaka University to study finance (DU). Before taking on her new role, Mrs. Prawma was the director of education and interim director of member affairs for ACCA Bangladesh. An FCCA member serves as ACCA Bangladesh’s country manager for the first time. She worked in the accounting and finance division of numerous local and international businesses before joining ACCA in 2014.
She held a part-time teaching position at the London School of Business and Management and the IUB. By carrying out the duties assigned to her, she wishes to advance ACCA Bangladesh. Last but not least, she “owns” her duties despite adopting them.
Ms. Prawma Khan, please share your professional and academic peregrination with our readers.
In my academic journey, I have been highly privileged to have been part of 2 of the best institutes in the country- Cadet College and Dhaka University. I am as proud and humble as an ex-cadet can be. These institutions have uniquely shaped me. I had average results in my early cadet college days; I was not too much into my studies. Later in life, I understood that I fly under pressure. Otherwise, I barely roam around! That epiphany came when I had to sit for my SSC pretest with only four days of preparation after 1.5 months of sick leave, and I used that realization later on when I was sitting for ACCA exams for my professional qualification. I took the maximum number of exams one could take in a year; to keep myself under pressure!
I joined the department of Finance at Dhaka University without prior knowledge of commerce/business studies. I chose Finance because the seats were running out very fast, and I thought it would be cool to jump on a completely different river and see where life takes me, and thank God I did. I got my first job before my university result came out.
I started my ACCA journey after doing much research because I knew that I needed a professional qualification to survive and thrive. I worked in the capital market with diversified financial products, and my seniors have inspired me to do so. During that time, my reporting managers told me they saw great potential in me, essential to accelerating the company’s growth. However, they also stated that I had to achieve further professional certifications to excel. In the conversation, they suggested that I can pursue ACCA, and after further evaluation, I realized it was the most convenient thing to do considering other options because I could gain relevant experience at the same time. However, I went to the UK to complete my ACCA qualification as soon as possible, and I finished what I set out to do.
How has your professional training and qualification helped you to excel in your career?
In elementary economics, we all understand the demand and supply curves. There is always a high demand for qualified professional Accountants, and we need to be higher in numbers. In Bangladesh, against the need for 15-20k qualified accountants, we have merely 4k. So, there is this generic high demand for my professional qualification. And ACCA is unique in how one becomes a strategic Business leader. Now my position requires knowledge in every aspect of the business, from business development to data analytics to people management, and I know for a fact that, along with experience, the credentials truly helped me. Being an FCCA member is unnecessary to run the ACCA operation in any country, but qualification and credibility help. I have to constantly keep myself updated with the business world and almost everything, which is what is needed. I am a data-oriented person, and numbers and data tell me the best story and help me to make informed decisions.
What is your most significant achievement as of now? To what extent does your motivation help you to thrive in your career?
It is tough to choose the most significant achievement. Lots of things are in motion at this moment. I can name a few then the readers can decide. I delivered a complex financial product in the capital market in my first job, which was quite significant. In my 8+ years tenure in ACCA, we co-created 2 Professional Masters’s programs with Dhaka university. I signed MoU with one of the most challenging institutions under the Ministry of Education- Bangladesh Technical Education Board, embedded ACCA introductory Diploma into the HSC Business Management and Technology syllabus, and created a shorter pathway to ACCA’s flagship Certified Accounting Technician Program. I am sitting on the curriculum committee of the national university to support the skill development programs.
Ms. Prawma Khan, you are working as the Country Manager of ACCA Bangladesh; tell us about your role.
I am new to the role, which I accepted in July 2022. As the country manager of the Bangladesh operation of the largest global body of professional Accountants, my role is multifaceted and crucial in driving the growth and success of the organization.
One of the critical aspects of my role is to promote the attractiveness of the ACCA profession to students and professionals in Bangladesh. This involves developing strategies and initiatives to increase awareness of the benefits of pursuing an ACCA qualification, such as global recognition, career advancement opportunities, and the ability to work across different sectors and industries.
Another important aspect of my role is to foster a strong sense of community among ACCA members in Bangladesh. This involves organizing networking events, knowledge-sharing sessions, and other activities promoting members’ collaboration and support. Building a vibrant member community is essential for enhancing the reputation and credibility of ACCA in Bangladesh and creating a platform for members to share their knowledge and experiences.
Additionally, I am responsible for developing policies and programs that help ACCA members in Bangladesh to continually develop their skills and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and practices in the industry. This involves identifying members’ training and development needs and partnering with relevant organizations and institutions to provide high-quality training and educational opportunities.
Finally, as the country manager, I also play a crucial role in building partnerships with government agencies, academic institutions, and other key stakeholders in Bangladesh. These partnerships are critical for promoting the ACCA profession, developing the skills of ACCA members, and creating a supportive environment for the organization’s growth.
As the Country Manager, what challenges do you face while playing your role, and how do you overcome those?
As the role is multifaceted, so are the challenges. I challenge myself the most! So, I must conquer the challenge from within, and everyone faces that challenge. I take solace from occasional yoga and mindful meditations to keep myself abreast.
If we are talking about external challenges, those come in many forms. It starts with keeping my team motivated enough to deliver the strategies to challenges related to government regulations, competition, etc. For example, navigating complex and ever-changing regulatory environments can be challenging, particularly in developing countries like Bangladesh. Additionally, competing with other organizations for market share can be difficult, especially if they have more resources or a stronger market position.
Overcoming those challenges means I must ensure we are always compliant with BIDA, NBR, and other regulatory bodies. ACCA is still to be known to many, and my team has to strategize how to create the best impact with limited resources, which must be sustainable. I am very grateful to all the communities I belong to, with extensive networks; those networks are information and our asset. I am not saying I can overcome every challenge that comes in. It’s essential to prioritize your goals and what matters most. If I am not feeling particularly confident, someday, I will take a break, disassociate myself from work, and come back stronger. If I have challenges with partners, I will ensure that partner’s needs are rightly understood. I strongly believe in clear communication. That solves many problems.
In your opinion, what are the most distinctive aspects of corporate culture?
That is a very Interesting question. Corporate culture is always set from the top. So, the distinctive aspects depend on which corporate you belong to, which is rapidly changing. A unique blend of tradition and modernity characterizes corporate culture in Bangladesh. The country’s strong cultural heritage is evident in the emphasis on social and family values and respect for hierarchy and authority. At the same time, there is a growing emphasis on innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship as the country works to become a more competitive player in the global economy.
In addition, the corporate culture in Bangladesh strongly emphasizes relationship-building and networking, with personal connections and informal networks often playing a critical role in business success. Finally, there is a growing recognition of the importance of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, with many companies taking steps to reduce their environmental impact and give back to the community. ACCA is the pioneer organization to commit to UN SDG Goals, and we are setting KPIS success measures. I know ESG is a trending issue to ensure sustainable development. In another aspect, companies are becoming more open (Not all). But they will need to adapt. Like in ACCA, we have understood that for high-caliber people, you cannot just set rules to check in and out of the office. We have adopted a hybrid working method, giving my team immense independence to carry out their deliverables. We focus on the outcome, not how many hours one spends at the office, and I fully acknowledge that it will only be possible for some of the organizations, and we are a matrix organization. Everyone is connected, and we have a globally distributed workforce.
What traits do you cherish, and why do you think these are perfect for success in your fields?
Being open-minded, progressive, and able to understand the person you are speaking to are the most important traits for anyone. Another trait is the ability to learn, unlearn and re-learn with agility. The world is moving faster than we imagined, as are the needed skill sets. Therefore, one must be agile and situational and be eager to experiment. Experiments may fail, but you learn and re-learn from the process and do better next time.
Ms. Prawma Khan, thousands of hearts follow you as their leader. So please say something to them.
I am flattered that people will listen to me. My philosophy of life is to focus on the destination but stay on the journey mindfully. Constantly update yourself, have multiple interests, and ensure you are always outdoing yourself. Another important message I want to share is to be comfortable in your skin and never compare yourself to anyone because that will only bring frustration. You might not get what you know you deserve, and if you feel that, don’t be shy, Go out there and let others experience what you are capable of. Don’t shy away from experimenting within the policy of your organization. And if you are an entrepreneur, ensure your finance function is top-notch. Finally, we all are on the same page when we look within ourselves. Be self-compassionate. I will quote my favorite quote from Jalaluddin Rumi Here- It’s your road and yours alone; others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.
The most outstanding achievement of your life as of now
Being the Country Manager of the largest global professional Accountancy body
The greatest philosopher in your view:
My Father and Jalaluddin Rumi
My Mother Mother in Law and our Prime minister
Name the most influential books you have read:
The Zahir by Paolo Coelho, 40 rules of love by Elif Shafak, And the mountains echoed-Khalid Hossaini
Your greatest fear:
Losing anyone I genuinely love
Best piece of advice you’ve received:
If you can be anything in this world, be kind.
Humble, Ambitious, Progressive