Minds We Meet—Kieran Soora

Kieran Soora is currently in his last year of the Bachelor of Commerce program with a major in Accounting.  His plans on obtaining his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licence once he finishes his degree at AU and would love to eventually be a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for a major company.  This is Kieran’s story.

Can you give us a little bit of background information about yourself? Who are you? Where do you live, where do you come from?

My name is Kieran Soora and I am 26 years old.  Where I come from is a bit of a complicated question to answer.  I’m what they call a “Third Culture Kid” which basically means I spent the majority of my formative years living in countries whose culture differs from the culture in my home country.  I was born in Windsor, Ontario after my parents immigrated to Canada from England.  Ethnically I am Northern Indian, however, my family moved away from India about 100 years ago and are now spread across the UK and North America.  When I was five, my dad got a job in Dubai which is in the United Arab Emirates.  I lived there for about seven years and then moved to London, England for two years and then back to the Middle East, but this time to Doha, Qatar.  I completed my high school and college diploma there before returning to Canada.  I feel extremely privileged to have been able to live in the places that I have as it’s given me exposure to a whole host of people from different walks of life and different cultural backgrounds.

What was it like living in so many different places? As a kid, do you remember finding it difficult?

It was difficult in some respects, for example, having to readjust to new schools, teachers and making new friends.  But overall, I enjoyed it.  It’s taught me how to be an adaptable person and I’ve made some great memories along the way.

Out of all the places you have lived, which do you remember being your favorite?

I would have to say Qatar, mainly because it’s where I spent my high school years and I had a lot of firsts there but also, I got to see the country’s growth firsthand.

So what program are you in at AU?

I am currently in the last year of the Bachelor of Commerce Program, majoring in Accounting.

Could you describe the path that led you to AU? What was it that made you realize you wanted to go back to school, and what pushed you into the Bachelor of Commerce program?

Before enrolling at AU, I had completed a two-year Business Administration Diploma in Accounting at the College of the North Atlantic – Qatar, which is an institution based on the east coast in Newfoundland with an overseas campus.  Originally, I had planned on continuing my education and completing a degree, but I ended up getting a job and put those plans on hold.  Last year, however, I ended up leaving the job I was at due to issues within the business and the toxic environment arising as a result of those issues.  It was while I was job hunting that I realized my options within accounting were limited without a degree or CPA designation.  I thought hard about what the best option for me going forward was and decided that the older I got the harder it would be to return to school.  It was then I decided to take the plunge and enrolled into the Bachelor of Commerce program post diploma route at AU.

Do you have any advice for people who are on the fence about going back to school?

My advice to people who are on the fence about going back to school would be: if not having the credential is holding you back or preventing you from achieving goals you are passionate about, take a chance on yourself and go for it.  I found the idea of going back to school after 4 years to be daunting and even more so because of it all being online.  After 11 months of working towards my degree, however, I am happy with my decision.

What do you do like to do when you’re not studying? Do you have any hobbies?

There are a number of things I enjoy doing when I’m not studying.  I enjoy riding motor bikes, playing sports (mainly ice-hockey and squash) and working on cars.  I am also trying to get myself to read more books.

What are your plans for this education once you finish? What would be your dream job?

I would like to go on and obtain a CPA licence once I graduate from AU.  My dream job would be being a CFO for a major company.

Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?

My dad.  He is the first person in his entire family to not only attend university but also obtain a master’s degree.  It gives me a huge sense of pride knowing what he has achieved and has inspired me to learn as much as I can.  Through him I have seen what the power of knowledge enables you to do.  He has been able to support his family, including extended family and has always been a huge advocate for education.  When I was debating whether to look for another job or to go back to school, it was his support which helped me to take a chance on myself and pursue further education.

Describe your experience with online learning so far.  What do you like?

My experience so far has been pretty good.  At first It was a huge adjustment for me but now that I have completed several courses, I have figured out a system that works for me.  I love the flexibility of being able to work on my courses at any time.

Is there anything that you have found that you dislike about online learning?

One thing I dislike about online learning is the lack of contact time with professors and students.  It can get very lonely.

At what point did you waver the most about continuing your schooling? What caused it and what got you through it?

It was my first semester.  I found it quite hard to get into the rhythm of doing my courses online and felt I wasn’t getting enough done in a day even when I’d spend an entire day in front of the laptop.  As time went on, I learnt to not put so much pressure on myself and follow some techniques to navigate the course materials more efficiently.

What’s your favorite AU course that you have taken so far, and why?

My favourite course has been ACCT 356 (Strategic and Competitive Analysis).  I enjoy analyzing businesses and looking for ways to improve them.

What have you given up to go to AU that you regret the most? Was it worth it?

I feel like I’ve given up a lot of my free time since enrolling into the program.  Although it can get tiring it’ll be worth it in the long run.

How do you find communications with your course tutors?

It took me some time to get used to not communicating face to face with tutors, as I’ve done in the past, but I’ve not had any issues in doing so since I started at AU.  They generally reply quickly and have been helpful.

What’s your biggest pet peeve, if you have one?

People chewing with their mouth open

What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?

Jay Z.  I think its fascinating that he came from such a rough background dealing drugs and managed to turn his life around and is now a successful businessman with a net worth of $1 billion.

Could you describe the proudest moment in your life?

In high school I was involved in a program called The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and the expedition portion of my Silver award consisted of climbing the Chandrashila summit in the Himalayan Mountains which is about 13,000 ft above sea level.  A couple of weeks prior to leaving for the trip I tore my meniscus in my right knee.  Regardless of the injury I was able to push myself and was among the first few to make it to the top.

What was it like climbing the Chandrashila Summit? What was the view like when you reached the top?

It was a surreal experience.  You notice the air becoming thinner as you got higher and higher.  Walking at a normal pace could make you feel breathless, which was weird.  The view at the top was incredible.  We were above the clouds, which was cool.

Could you describe one thing that distinguishes you from most other people?

Given the fact that I moved around so much as a child I am very adaptable to change.  Having different friend groups from year to year was normal for me growing up and as a result of that I feel I am able to connect with people easily.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?

Life is about taking risks.  Once you are out of your comfort zone, that’s where growth happens.

Have you traveled? Where has life taken you so far?

I have been extremely fortunate to have travelled to seventeen countries so far.  Some of the places I have been include: South Africa, Kenya,Hong Kong, Malaysia, Bali, Australia, Holland and India.

Out of the places you have travelled to, which was your favorite?

It’s hard to pick a favourite place.  Every one of them has been great in their own way!