Giving her best without cutting corners

Edwina de Souza Cordeirotalks about the importance of being thorough without taking short-cuts; and being true to her work and herself

Edwina de Souza Cordeiro, a Chartered Accountant by profession, is true to her work and herself; and believes that in the long run honesty, integrity and hard work prevail.

Edwina completed her schooling at Our Lady of the Rosary High School Dona Paula and higher secondary schooling from Dempo Higher Secondary School, Panjim, and then moved out to complete B.Com at Sydenham College Mumbai. She did her CA articleship at Lovelock and Lewes, Mumbai with a year’s industrial training at Hindustan Levers, Mumbai. She also completed her LL.B. at Hinduja College of Law Mumbai, while doing her CA articles.

From hard work to success, she considers herself as one of the lucky ones to pass her inter CA and final CA – all groups, at the first attempt. “Firstly one is doing one’s articleship and one does not get much leave for the exams. The percentage of students passing is extremely low, generally below 5%. So clearing CA exams is difficult. I worked with great concentration, but I did not work too many hours at the exam”.

Besides all this, she was staying in a hostel in Mumbai and had to show that she was a student. “I had to do an LL.B. just to continue staying in the hostel as there was no alternative in Mumbai at that time for girl students”.

She was glad that she managed to clear both courses simultaneously.” Looking back, I was blessed to be able to concentrate on achieving my goals. When I first completed my CA education, I toyed with the idea of working in a foreign or private bank in the investment banking cell. I did get a job in ICICI Investments but decided against it, as I had enough of being in Mumbai and wanted to branch out on my own”.

One very important issue for her was to be able to help her mother. “My mother Marion de Souza, was running our family firm M/s V Paul de Souza, after my father’s early demise. She always encouraged us to follow our interests, but I felt I could contribute to putting the accounts in order, and that she needed me then”.

When Edwina returned to Goa, she did a short internship. “With CA P V Sadekar, I learnt the basics of personal taxation, he drilled into me the importance of being thorough and not taking short-cuts. Then I was fortunate to get audit assignments with M/s R.K Pikale and immediately get to be a partner in his firm. I owe my being in practice to Pikale who encouraged me to continue in practice”.

Simultaneously, she started her own firm, ‘Edwina de Souza & Associates’ in 1984.

Edwina received tremendous encouragement from her late brother-in-law Edwin Barreto who had great faith in her and recommended her to everyone he knew.

There is nothing that Edwina would have done differently when she first started out. She knew that she had to work for herself and did not want to enter the corporate world. It was difficult for her as there were tempting offers from corporates in Mumbai.

“I wanted to be able to control my work/home balance, as being a woman, I knew I would have to make time for family, as well. Some of my classmates who joined the corporate world are in very high positions, but I have no regrets!” she adds.

Being new in the profession and being a young woman at 23 were the two hurdles. “Clients were reluctant to think a lady would be able to guide them in business and taxation, since it was a male-dominated field. With my competence, I gained their confidence, and soon it was not a problem anymore”.

Edwina mentions that her priorities have not changed much from when she first started. She feels happy that she has been able to achieve a good balance in work/family areas. “My priority when the children were schooling was always to ensure that I had time for their activities and attending their events. My children are a blessing. I have always cherished my independence and being able to control my work/home balance. I treat my staff with fairness and affection, and I have been repaid by having tremendous support from them. My husband has always been by my side and shared the burdens of life together with me. I have strived hard to find that work-life balance”.

Edwina is a voracious reader. She enjoys art and loves painting. Gardening is her newfound passion. She gets great joy from tending to plants; which she mentions is relaxing and makes for good content for her Instagram. She is also classically trained in playing the piano. Doing the interiors of her office and house is something she loves; it allows her a break from auditing people’s accountsand advising clients on their taxes, thus giving her scope to explore her creative side.

Edwina has always tried to impart her knowledge to her employees in a multitude of ways to help them grow professionally and personally. “My children are fairly independent and my staff is capable to sort out minor issues very competently and allow me that extra time”.

Edwina believes that with God’s grace she has been able to reach out to people and has a newfound mission of helping others in whatever capacity she can, because giving is the greatest gift. She donates electronic devices to the needy to assist them in the difficult virtual world, helping people through giving them provisions and even lending that much needed ear during times of crisis.

Edwina advises people to never give up on one’s aspirations and to never compromise in a situation. “If you feel even slightly uncomfortable with the ethics of a case, get out and look elsewhere. Be true to yourself and give your best quality in work without cutting corners. In the long run this will pay off, and you will also maintain your self-respect.”

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