Sharmila Karve

“Straight talking and direct”, “can be abrasive”, “is very sure about what she wants” – if you know/knew me, I’m sure that’s how you’d describe me.

I’ve never really worked anywhere else. As a lifer at the firm, I did my article ship from 1985-1988 during which I also got married. After I qualified, I continued with the firm till 1991. Quit the firm when I was going to have a baby despite my partners trying to convince me to stay on, but I knew that I would always have a place to come back to so re-joined the firm in 1994.

One of my most cherished moments was when I joined back post my maternity break as a Senior Assistant Manager. I had to go through the interview process and was taken through the terms and conditions and we agreed that I would join on 1 June. I remember going in to meet Thomas Mathew in his cabin to tell him I’m ready to begin. He smiled and told me that during the time I wasn’t there, they had hired someone else at my designation who’d actually negotiated at a higher salary while I had negotiated at a lower salary. So, they would be bumping me up to the same salary as well. I never imagined that on the day I joined back, I’d be drawing a salary that was more than what had been agreed upon. We hear stories of pay parity, equality in the workplace, women not being treated equal to men, etc. daily today and for me this story will always stand out in my memory because of how fairly I was treated.

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I made Partner in 1997. Over the next few years, I was handling several large listed and one of the highest-risk clients of the firm. Around 2007, we decided as a family that we wanted to move to Pune, but this move was more on paper, as I continued to shuffle between Mumbai and Pune each week as most of my clients were based in Mumbai.

A high point in my career would be handling one of the largest FMCGs in India as a young Partner.

As I grew in the firm, I had four bankable allies/mentors - two were my managers at one point in time and grew to become Partners while two were already Partners. They were also my friends and people whom I knew I could call 24/7.

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From Thomas Mathew, I learnt professionalism, how to make sure you did the right thing from a client perspective and to look at all your alternatives before saying ‘No’. From Vasant Gujarati, I learnt the art of negotiation, as he taught me that being paid for good work is important. From Sanjay Hegde, I learnt that talking straight and talking directly was the right thing to do and if you do the right thing, you don’t have to worry about losing sleep. I miss him and cannot believe that he is no longer with us.

I truly believe that I was lucky to make so many friends in my journey in the firm – people who I still talk to regularly as they are a part of my life even now. You can take a person out of PwC, but you can never take PwC out of a person. Wherever I am, whatever I am, irrespective of whatever experiences I have had, I believe I am what I am because of my nearly 33 years in the firm. I cannot forget that it is PwC that has made and shaped me.

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