A business is only as good as its people, which is why DUAhas anexceptional team, delivering the best advice and expert guidance. But what makes our people tick? In this series, we put some probing questions to members of the team.
We kick off with our CEO, Rakesh Dua.
A qualified accountant and business consultant, Rakesh launched the company in 2010 with an impressive track record spanning two continents. But what challenges has he faced along the way – and how does he spend his downtime?
What made you start the business and what were you doing before?
I got a degree in accounting and economics at Aberystwyth University and I was recruited on what’s called the ‘milk round’ and then joined a leading firm, where I did my training. And then, two years ahead of the game, I got promoted as manager. I was headhunted nine months later,but I turned them down.
I was working as a senior managerwhen I decided that as I enjoyed working with small businesses, I could run a firm myself. My parents had come from a small business background, so I took the plunge to go into the world of running a business as well as advising clients about business.
What changes have had the greatest impact on UK businesses in the last 10 years?
Digitalisation, the pandemic and ease of mobility internationally.
DUA proudly supports ambitious businesses. Can you tell us more about your most ambitious moment?
Leaving the security of a well-paid job, with very fast progression, where I had everything going for me and taking the plunge to have no clients, but still have enough confidence that I could pull it off. I think that was ambitious. That was quite a moment for me.
What would you recommend all businesses need and should have?
A plan…too many people don’t have a plan.It’s very hard and you’re doing it by luck if you don’t have a plan. If you want to achieve something you have to have a plan, goals, ambition and some set targets…only then will you know if you are successful or not. You may not get there, it may take you longer, you may face adversity, but without a plan, you’re almost waiting for it to happen. The most ambitious clients will know that they have a plan and are very driven to succeed and that normally means they have more chance of succeeding.
With the upcoming challenges faced by businesses and consumers, what key advice would you give to business owners to navigate this situation?
I think what you need to do is see beyond this. You’re always going to have challenges in business, some are bigger than others. You need to understand the key drivers in your business and how those are affected by the changes and have a plan. Probably build in a bit of contingency and also rally your troops along the way. But there’s always going to be opportunities where there are challenges.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a career in accountancy?
The training is fantastic, there is good discipline, it’s a grounding that will serve you well in business. You have to decide if you specialise in it or is it the basis to develop a career in business or industry. The fundamentals are strong when you’ve got an accountancy qualification and that will serve you well for the rest of your career. You will always be strong on numbers and finance.
What’s been the greatest challenge you’ve faced?
Losing my father at a young age and not having that guiding light. That still haunts me. When you lose someone so important it can have a profound effect. I have done well, but I think I could have done better if I’d had that guiding light.
What’s your secret to success?
Passion, energy, working with peopleand, as Nike said, just do it.
When you’re not at DUA, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I have two young children, a five-year-old and a seven-year-old, who keep my quite busy. I still play a bit of cricket and a bit of football. I like to have some quality ‘me’ time, so I work out at a spa locally, which allows me to not only have quiet time, but also to keep healthy and fit.
My real passions outside that are travelling, meeting new people and working with charities for people who are less advantaged. I’ve done a lot for Cancer Research UK, I have a real affinity with any charity that deals with children. Recently I have been really impressed with the work of One YMCA in Watford. I’m raising money for them, but I am also contributing to their knowledge pool of how to work with businesses closely to create a better environment for everybody, throughout Beds, Bucks and Herts.