FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Naresh Nakhid
February 12, 2019
The roots of most careers, passions and lifestyles for many people start early – derive from family influences and places of origin. Delving into the life of a successful career accountant in Calgary might have you expecting someone bland or dull, conservative and stuffy. Not this one …
Naresh Nakhid, Partner and leader in Private Enterprise work at MNP in Calgary is nothing like what I might have expected and spending a couple of hours with him proved entertaining – his personality is frank, engaging and funny, but his sense of life, values and insight is quite remarkable.
His beginning was in Trinidad – born in Port-of-Spain. Mom did office work, and departed for Toronto when Naresh was three (they would reconnect later during his Toronto days – and they stay in touch). “I didn’t grow up with a mother, so I wouldn’t know what that was like. It was such a blessing to be with my dad.”
He was raised by his father – an accountant. OK, a different kind of accountant. He was a ‘bookie’. This was historically the family business (Trinidad, a British colony, had betting shops similar to the UK). Naresh recalls tagging along with dad in his work as a child and began working in the business after school – learning about the business of betting and accounting …
The Nakhid family had a long history in Trinidad where Naresh’s great-grandfather arrived after service in the British Army in India; he got to choose where he would go – he chose Trinidad and was allotted a substantial land holding. So, the family had always been well-to-do.
Naresh’s schooling was private, following family tradition, at the College of the Immaculate Conception, an elite private school established by the Vatican where students followed ‘the British Model’ in terms of O levels (completed at 16 - #1 in his class and won a medal) and A levels for two years. When Naresh’s father died, his uncle assumed control over the business and Naresh departed for Toronto four weeks later – leaving behind his car, his condo and his furniture. He lived in Brampton in a basement suite, worked several simultaneous part-time jobs to support himself while finishing grades 12 and 13. One of those jobs, at UPS, is where he met his wife Chris Mitchell. Further schooling at York, where he earned a B. Admin. (Hons), Major in Accounting. His career took him next to Arthur Anderson, then to Deloitte Touche – a move to Calgary/partnership with Deloitte in 2010 and he moved over to MNP in 2012.
Along the way, Chris went back to school in Buffalo to become a teacher – and they did all this while raising a son and daughter. Chris passed away in 2012. Their children are thriving – son William in Toronto in office management and daughter Daphne pursuing a medical career in grad school at University of Calgary.
He speaks of his time at MNP being dramatically different from his Deloitte experience – feeling more involved, “I feel like a business owner – we have a great office culture, not dictated and rule driven”.
What are the odds? Smart, accomplished, hard working, funny. Charming, of course, I was his guest – but when we got into discussing life’s gritty parts, he really shines and shows a steely mix of humility and humour to mask his deep emotions. I’m glad I’ve met him and expect our paths will cross often.
Why are you successful?
“I feel I am one of the most fortunate people, and my success comes from the influence of my late wife and my children. I don’t want to be poor – and I’ve been driven to some degree by the fear of not being successful.”
What has held you back?
“I’ve experienced some jealousy – people who don’t want to see you thrive; but I got past that.”
How do you see your business – assurance and advisory services – going forward over the next quarter?
… Alberta is in a tough place – the economy is still in for a rough ride. People are not expanding. We are focused on delivering service as effectively as we can – always reviewing different delivery models. The market recognizes MNP as a leader. We expect moderate growth.
And over the next five years?
… biggest changes will be in technology for us and our clients. A.I. (artificial intelligence) is catching a lot of attention, but lots of promises have not yet been kept. That will evolve. Change will drive down the cost of record-keeping of every kind and provide higher quality and more timely information. Privacy invasion will be a big issue …
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… Integrity. Straight talk. They have a deep command of their product or service they are selling. I want to deal with the best …
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Naresh Nakhid and MNP, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… I’m professional and I understand my clients’ business – I have their best interest at heart. I work harder than most to achieve and execute – and I’m proud of that.
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… open door. I have 50-60 people in my group, three direct reports. I’m a forgiving person but I expect high quality. I care about them and their future – I love to help people realize their potential and to experience their career in a deep and meaningful way.
… a definite YES! I work at odd hours.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… nothing keeps me awake. I worry for my family – but I don’t fear tomorrow or the world. When I see a problem, I see opportunity. I love a challenge.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… two life altering events: meeting my wife was a big influence – she gave me strength and support for 26 years. She changed me from being arrogant and quite tempermental. The second, in 2012, I didn’t like who I was, what I was doing and where I was going – and I met people from MNP, and my life changed.
… I’m a history buff but I don’t read it – I enjoy it more from travel and watching documentaries. When I got bored I challenged the LSAT for admission to Osgoode Hall – just to see if I could. I work out three times a week, I ski and waterski.
What do you read?
… I read a ton every day. Accounting practice things of course, current events – multiple newspapers and loads of business publications. I don’t read fiction much – I find it tedious.
… Mercedes mostly. I currently own nine cars (GLE63 AMG, SL63AMG, S63AMG, ML 320, GLK 350, Corvette, GMC Sierra, Nissan Leaf, Chevy Cruze). I keep some at home, some at my girlfriend’s place, some at my place in Radium.And motorcycles – I’m down to two.
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