Accounting on Success
Digant Bahl (B.S. ’00, M.B.A. ’02) arrived in the United States at 17 years old with less than $20, a business card with the name of a contact, and the hope of achieving the American dream. “I arrived on May 31, 1993, at 5 p.m. By 8 a.m. on June 1, I was in midtown looking for a job,” he recalls. “I began hauling boxes for cash, 12 hours a day, six days a week.”
Eventually, Bahl settled into life in New York, advancing to making deliveries for a company in the perfume industry. His boisterous, friendly nature helped him get to know some small business owners and managers on his route. Always looking for avenues for advancement, he noticed the accounting software they were using and took it upon himself to learn it. “When I was in school in India, I did some training in accounting, and I knew I wanted to do that,” he says. One connection led to another, and soon he had created a small freelance business helping people keep their books.
Bahl began working for schools and other nonprofits but knew that in order to move up in his career, he would have to complete more schooling. He enrolled in New York Tech to get his accounting degree, went on to get his M.B.A., and finally, his CPA (certified public accountant). He did it all while working full-time—and even finished early. “I did my M.B.A. in under 11 months,” he says. “That sounds like a lot to Americans. But when you are alone and working for your survival, trust me, you could do it, too.”
In 2010, Bahl opened Accounting Solutions, a business that provides accounting services for nonprofit organizations. His team has grown to include 30 people in the United States and about 14 people overseas in India, Cambodia, and the Philippines. At any given time, he also has a team of interns, mostly made up of students from New York Tech. That pipeline has not only been vital for New York Tech students, but it has benefited Accounting Solutions in finding top-notch talent. “My vice president, Monita Nhem (M.B.A. ’16) started with me as an intern,” says Bahl. “I had told her, ‘If you stay focused, in 10 years you will be running the firm.’ Now it’s year seven, and she's well on her way.”
In addition to his strong work ethic, laser focus, and extensive training, Bahl credits much of his success to his sense of humor. “You don’t expect that to be so important for an accountant, but a sense of humor definitely doesn’t hurt,” he says. In a business that is all about relationships, it helps to know how to speak to people. “Telling a joke helps lighten the mood. If you can connect with the person on a different level, you lose the stiffness of it. You put a person to ease. At the end of the day, we are all human. We are all trying to do our best.”