Generating Curiosity and Financial Literacy: An Interview with Accounting Instructor Ketaki Gadre

Generating Curiosity and Financial Literacy: An Interview with Accounting Instructor Ketaki Gadre

 

“Although finance is the oxygen for any business, I would say that accounting is the language of a business.”

Ketaki Gadre, FCT accounting instructor, came to Canada in 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ketaki, a financial analyst originally from India, navigated through the newcomer experience to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and transitioned into her current position as an instructor.

Ketaki sat down with us to share some advice for international students.

What inspired you to teach?

As a child, I was always inspired by my grandmother, who worked towards female empowerment. Looking at her journey, I always wanted to do my part to empower others. In today's world, there is nothing more empowering than knowledge. I'm aware of the kind of impact it can have and how it can help the younger generation shape their future.

How would you describe your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy primarily revolves around generating curiosity about the subject. I believe that once students are curious, they take the initiative to learn the concepts, practise more and eventually apply them when they are working in their professions.

To foster curiosity, I aim to create a supportive environment, so that they feel encouraged to ask questions and can engage actively when we are discussing case studies.

Any advice for students in accounting and finance?

My advice to students is to start networking before you graduate. I encourage students to reach out to professionals in their target companies, teams or positions, having conversations and coffee chats to help them understand what the day-to-day activities look like for these professionals, their main responsibilities and the challenges they face. This will help in making more informed decisions when choosing a career path.

Can you share some financial tips for newcomers in Canada?

I have been through this journey. I was a newcomer and a student three and a half years ago in Canada, so I can totally relate to the struggles that students have.

  1. Budgeting is the most important thing to do. A student should learn to make a budget of their expected income and expenses, at least monthly. In fact, budgeting is one of the concepts I cover as a part of advanced accounting. What we learn in class is not just useful while working in their jobs, but also in their personal lives.
  2. Understand the student loan structure. What is the amount of the installment, the interest and principal component? Is prepayment possible? Is the rate of interest fixed or variable? These are some of the questions students should ask and know the answers to. This will help them in planning their finances.
  3. Spend some time understanding the tax and overall Canadian financial system. For instance, comparing the services that various banks offer to new students, understanding health care and having the appropriate health insurance coverage are all extremely important.

How was your experience as a newcomer?

Well, I came during the peak of COVID. For me, the most challenging thing was the lack of support at the time. We didn’t have much interaction with fellow students, so I had to figure out a lot on my own — whether it was through Google searches or reaching out to people through cold calls on LinkedIn and asking them for help. This was something that I did and had to struggle with. But I believe at FCT there is so much support, and faculty as well as academic teams are always available to students.

What is the best piece of career advice you've ever received?

The best piece of career advice I've ever received is from my father: he said to never stop trying, exploring, learning and persevering.

We live in a very dynamic business world today, and we have to adapt and learn new things in order to stay relevant. So, this is like an ongoing journey for any professional today.

What is something random that your students don’t know about you?

Firstly, I was still educating myself just two years ago. I think what they don't know is I can relate a lot to their journey because I graduated in 2020–2021, so I'm pretty much aware of the mindset and the challenges they are going through.

One interesting fact would be that I’ve been a martial arts and kickboxing enthusiast for almost two and a half years. That has really helped me to keep grounded and to blow off steam. Even in my discussions with students, I tell them to take up some passion that will set their mind free, bring them happiness and take the burden off their shoulders for a while at least.

Any closing words of wisdom to share with students?

Most of the students I interact with are new to Canada. They're still figuring out if their decision to move to this new country at a young age is correct or not. I had a discussion with one of my students just a couple days back, where he asked me, “Did I do the right thing by coming here?” and my response was, “Take a decision and stick to it for a while.”

I encourage them to be patient. Such life-changing decisions like moving across countries will not give fruit immediately, in six months or eight months — that's not what's going to happen. I want them to stick around, believe in their capabilities, keep learning, see what the industry wants and find the right fit for them. This requires a lot of patience and confidence in your own self.

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