CS Final exam: Topper Sahil shares prep strategy
Merril Diniz, 19 Jun 2014

AFFECTIONATELY known to friends and family as Sahil, Mahiboob, a CA by profession, always wanted to be a software engineer. But on completing matriculation in 1998, the Y2K prospect made him choose a more popular career combo, BCom, CA and CS. In 2011, he topped the CS Final exam and is now happy to be associated with Oracle, a company that deals with his childhood interest – software.

But life hasn’t been a bed of roses. Sahil hails from a poor family in Bilagi, Karnataka and was a victim of child polio. He shares his career mantra with Merril Diniz: Shift your focus from what you don’t have to what you have. 

Fast Facts
Name: Mahiboob Mahalinamani
: 29
Level: Company Secretary Final exam
Rank: First

Q. Can you tell us about your family and education.
A. My father Nanasaheb did his Pre-University education and my mom Jannatabhi, a homemaker, did her matriculation. But they fulfilled their dreams through me by giving me a good education. I finished my matriculation at Sri Siddheshwar High School, Bilagi, and did my Pre-University and BCom from SRN Arts & MBS Commerce College, Bagalkot. My uncle Aslam and aunt, Dr Ameena Meer sponsored my educational expenses.

Q. What is your current job?   
A. I work as an accountant with Suwega Software Technologies in Bangalore and am deputed to Oracle India. Here I am  part of Inbound Royalty Administration team. In this process the partners’ softwares/services will be embedded into Oracle software/services. My role includes Analysis of Various Oracle Partner Agreements, ascertaining Royalty and advising payment to the Accounts Payable Team with necessary approvals. This process poses good challenges for future growth.
Q. Do you face any difficulties due to your physical challenge?
A.Both my lower limbs are in poor condition and when I walk it looks a little different from other people. On my first day at Oracle, my manager Navaneethakrishnan Gopalan suggested I use a wheel chair. Why don’t you save your energy for better things? he asked. Also, the Oracle office has good facilities for specially-abled employees. There are nine floors and I use a wheelchair to move around and a lift to move from one floor to another. From school, up to graduation I used a tricycle to move around.I remember when I entered the school compound, my friends would come running to pick my bag.
Now, I use a customised two-wheeler. However, throughout my life I have met positive, caring people be it my teachers, friends, relatives and colleagues. So, I never felt I am physically challenged. But in my first interview I was a rejection for being a specially-abled person. After that I never looked back. In my résumé, I never mention I am physically challenged unless the job ad asks.
Q. What according to you is the essence of the CS programme? 
A. I always dreamt of a good position where I can contribute to the economy. The Company Secretary is the backbone of a company, and on-line compliances of corporate matters by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, has made it more imperative for a Company Secretary to discharge his or her services in the best interest of the country and the economy.
icsi_topper_newQ. What subjects interest you most?
A. I like management information systems as well as taxation, especially direct taxation – a subject I find very interesting because I have to analyse, understand and give the benefit to the client as well to make sure the economy, the government is getting revenue.
Q. Tell us about your study prep. 
A.I studied for 12 months, up to 10 hours a day. However, rather than keeping a track of number of hours, I strongly believe in the end result through qualitative and effective studies. I emphasised much on covering topics from each subject on a daily basis. Papers such as Secretarial Practice relating to Economic Laws and Drafting & Conveyancing (Group – I), Financial, Treasury and Forex Management (Group – II), Direct and Indirect Taxation – Law and Practice (Group – III) are comparatively tougher.
Having said that, if you study on a daily basis and planned manner, all the papers can be cracked. I read guideline answers to understand the previous questions and the presentation skills and examiner’s expectations.

In the picture: Mahiboob with his colleagues at Oracle office
 Q. Is the 15-month practical training compulsory?
A. Pursuant to Regulation 47 of Company Secretary Regulations, 1982, a candidate who has passed the Professional Programme/ Final Examination is required to undergo practical training. Or else, he or she is exempted from becoming eligible to the Associate Membership of the Institute.  I am yet to comply with this training period.
Q. Did you take any coaching?
A. Yeah, I took coaching from Yeshas Academy in Bangalore for Financial, Treasury and Forex Management (Group – II), Direct and Indirect Taxation – Law and Practice (Group – III). For company law and practice I attended Jayaraman Sir’s classes. I studied the Institute material, Guideline Answers and followed the Institute’s Journal.
Q. And your long-term career goal?
A. Domains like Fusion GRC (Governance, Risk & Compliance) Development, Business Intelligence, are a perfect blend of software knowledge, accounting and audit. I will specialise in either Taxation (Transfer Pricing) or Functional Consultancy.
Q. You come across as a determined person. What gave you strength?
A. My mother was the backbone of all my dreams. Also, my BCom lecturer Capt. P S Huilgol gave me practical guidance on how to deal with the people and analyse critical situations. Even today when I get struck, I put myself in his shoes and the answers come flashing in front of me! And finally, reading the The Road Ahead by Bill Gates, which makes a historical study of personal computers, makes it clear that all successful people, have a vision.
Have a question or comment for Mahiboob? Post it below and he will respond to them through the month of April!

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