Date posted: 15/08/2018 10 min read

Leading the way

Acuity speaks to Kashish Gupta, 2018 winner of Emerging Leaders of New Zealand in the field of accounting, about his desire to be a leader of tomorrow.

In Brief

  • The Emerging Leaders of New Zealand awards give promising university students a chance to take their next step towards professional employment after graduation.
  • Gupta says the process allowed him “connect to and learn from an array of exciting talent”.
  • Gupta advises other young people to get out of their comfort zones to start on the path to becoming successful leaders.

The annual Emerging Leaders of New Zealand awards celebrate outstanding young people who demonstrate talent and leadership. The awards can be a stepping stone from university student to serious contender for internships and graduate opportunities.

The accounting division – sponsored by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand – was won by Kashish Gupta, 19, who has proven that he has what it takes to sail towards his goal of becoming a difference maker in business. He describes his journey through the awards selection process as “challenging, insightful and reflective”.

Acuity asked him how he’s managed to become so successful at such a young age, how he defines leadership and what he plans to do with his bright future.

Leaders of tomorrow 

“A boss is someone who instructs their team to win at all costs, whereas a leader is someone who creates an environment where every individual in the team has an equal opportunity to improve, succeed and learn,” Gupta says. “A leader is someone who believes in their team and more importantly, backs their own ability to support the team.”

Gupta already has a number of other achievements. After scoring an average of 93% across five subjects, he received the Auckland Grammar School University Scholar award as well as the Kenneth Commons Prize for his Commerce results. He’s a Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand student representative, as well as the proud recipient of the University of Auckland Top Achiever’s scholarship and the PwC scholarship, National Champion of New Zealand’s Environmental Entrepreneurship competition. But he’s not ready to rest on his laurels.

“To me, the more meaningful value of ‘achievement’ is not such tangible ones, but the ‘intangible’ qualities and lessons I have gained in the process,” he says. “I deem success not to be the relative superiority against my peers but relative within myself: outperforming my yesterday’s self through endless hard work, persistence and discipline.

“We live in a vastly modernised contemporary society where employers are constantly looking for ‘all-rounders’ who are able to use their skills to adapt to any situation,” he says. “No longer does your academic merit guarantee success. Instead, translate your theory and knowledge into experiences.

“I view the experiences that I have been through, both pleasant and painful, as gifts, because these remain our most valuable assets. I believe that it is these assets that allow us to make better decisions in the future, ultimately making us ‘all-rounders’.”

Gupta considers the Emerging Leaders of New Zealand award to be a great validation of what he’s achieved to date, and feels it gave him added confidence to continue sharing his experiences and guiding others to make a difference.

“The whole selection process and assessment centre for the Emerging Leaders Awards was without a doubt a learning curve for me,” he admits. “It allowed me to connect to and learn from an array of exciting talent from all across Aotearoa. One thing that makes the Emerging Leaders Awards selection process stand out is the valuable and individualised feedback given to each finalist at the culmination of the awards.”

Organisation and commitment are key

Students often struggle with balancing busy lives full of work, study and socialising. Beyond their regular classes, they still need to factor in homework, assessments, exam revision, extra-curricular activities, family and social commitments, and some much-needed time to rest and recharge. One could be forgiven for wondering when they even find the time to sleep!

Gupta believes the best way for students to keep up is through a simple combination of organisation and commitment. Like a true professional, he takes the time to list his priorities every day and works through them methodically. Skimping on quality is never an option, he emphasises, even if a task requires a speedy turnaround or extra attention.

“I rank all my tasks in priority order and complete them accordingly. I plan out my timetable and work accordingly,” he explains. “If a task needs to be done earlier, or is of greater importance, I would complete it in such a way that I am never making any last-minute effort.”

Gupta completes every task to the best of his ability and to the highest standard possible. In fact, once he’s committed to something, he sees it through to the end: “When I have promised to do something for someone or if there is a deadline or assignment due, I make sure that there are no distractions around me and that I am focused on completing the task to the best of my ability.”

Never give up

Two of the most important qualities to have in business are resilience and persistence, which can be the most difficult to put forth in challenging situations.

My experiences have taught me that success can never be owned or given; it is rented, and that rent is due every day.
Kashish Gupta 

Gupta has some wise words to share on sticking with it when the going gets tough: “My experiences have taught me that success can never be owned or given; it is rented. And that rent is due every day. In order to be able to pay this rent on a daily basis, one skill that I would like to develop further is persistence.”

He believes in the daily motivation of outperforming the person you were yesterday, rather than deciding that something is too hard. “This means that on days where I feel like giving up, I focus on the immediate moment and really make sure I have put in my 101 per cent to make a difference, even if it means making only the slightest bit of progress.” 

Open your mind to all the possibilities 

We often let great opportunities pass us by, perhaps out of fear, or simply because it sounds too hard. But there is no success without failure. Taking challenging opportunities to grow and develop your skills is paramount. Getting out of one’s comfort zone and doing something different can help to boost one’s confidence and put you on the path to becoming a successful leader, Gupta believes.

“Business is such a subject which enables you to explore beyond yourself, your textbooks, your education and really places you in an environment which fosters innovation and growth,” he says. “It is because of this, that I cannot clearly say what exact career pathway I want to head into. Every day my visions change, I am exposed to and attracted to new facets of this business world unbeknownst to me.

“So regardless of whether it’s small or big, I recommend always being ready to put yourself in a brand-new environment to constantly challenge yourself, improve yourself and add to your bundle of assets.”

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