Taking a calculated risk to have skin in the game 

Mehul Kotedia

Founder/Director, Mekad / KYCme / Non Executive Director, Board Apprentice

Could you describe your childhood and tell us a little about where you grew up?

I was born and lived in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) until the age of 13. I went to a local primary school, which was Swahili speaking. I then attended an English primary school for a year or so, before going on to boarding school in the UK. As a child, I have many memories of spending most of my time outdoors with friends and family. I fondly recall trips to the beach and weekends spent at the cricket ground, with its captivating club environment. Of course, we loved good food, had great home cooking and there was no shortage for fresh tropical fruits!

At 13 years of age, you attended a College in Berkshire. Tell us about these formative years and what your interests/hobbies were at this time?

At the age of 13, my younger brother and I both moved to the UK to study. We were the first in our family and friendship group to leave our home in Tanzania to further our education. It was a difficult situation for both my brother and I, as it was for our parents too, no doubt. However, a sound education was, and is, a cornerstone in our family and ultimately it was for our benefit. It was a typical boarding school, and it certainly changed both my brother and I. It’s one of those experiences that brings many advantages, but as anyone who boarded knows, it certainly isn’t always plain sailing.

I had a keen interest in several sports, especially cricket. There were several extracurricular activities which you were encouraged to join, such as music, drama, young enterprise etc.

You studied for a BA in Finance and Economics at university in the UK. What was it about Finance & Economics that appealed to you?

I was interested in pursuing a career in accountancy, which motivated me to choose this university course and it gave me a very good academic grounding in accountancy and economics.

Believe in your ability and don't be scared to make mistakes, as you will only learn and improve.

At 27 years of age, you started working for PwC in London and Tanzania as a Senior Manager/Consultant in Taxation. How did you find working pan-jurisdiction?

I actually spent two years in Tanzania and the rest of the time in the London. The experience of working in East Africa was an incredible professional opportunity. There was a lot of new taxation legislation being developed in the mining sector, as well as the introduction of VAT. These were significant moments for an emerging market. I then moved back to London, where I joined the international tax team within the telecoms, information communication and entertainment sector. Working in an international environment with a cross-border focus was exciting and also gave me invaluable exposure and experience.

What was is that brought you to Jersey in 2002?

The move to Jersey came about via a local recruitment firm, who were asked to look for a specific candidate for a fairly unique and diverse position. For me, the role was a move away from the international corporate world into international private client work. The attraction of a focused environment that offered a good work life balance, at a time I was bringing up a young family, had a lot of appeal. By this stage I’d experienced several varied roles and experiences, from local to international taxation and accountancy, so this next step felt like the right move.

Why did you move from Tax/Investment as an Accountant to a Business Development role?

This role was very dynamic and whilst it was still grounded in the international tax world, it allowed me to develop in broader areas of both corporate and private client work. It was more client facing as well, an aspect I enjoy.

In 2007, you became Founder and CEO at Mekad Ltd – an organisation that provides accounting, taxation and consulting services. What made you start Mekad?

Starting my own business or being part of a start up with “skin in the game” was always a long-term ambition. However, in hindsight it wasn’t the optimal time given the financial landscape... the global markets and their economies were in trouble. But we believed in our service proposition, and we already had a number of businesses interested in our services, so one could argue it was calculated risk!

Board Apprentice is a fantastic social franchise, dedicated to increasing diversity on boards globally.

In 2017, you became a Non-Exec Director on Board Apprentice, a not-for- profit organisation for the development of tomorrow’s Board members. Could you tell us more about Board Apprentice, which the IoD will be supporting through mentorship in 2022, and explain how you got involved in the initiative?

Board Apprentice was established by a good family friend, Charlotte Valeur, before I joined them; it’s a fantastic social franchise dedicated to increasing diversity on boards globally. Charlotte and I had many discussions on the diversity point and shared a clear vision for where this should be heading. So, in 2017 Charlotte and the board invited me to join as non-executive finance director. The diversity initiative has gained significant momentum, which is great to see. However, we believe there is a lot of change still coming through and with the right level of education and exposure it will get there. We are very pleased to have the support from IoD, this partnership initiative is a step in the right direction, in relation to both diversity and the essential education around this subject matter. We hope that this partnership will be fruitful and beneficial for all!

You are a Committee member of The Channel Islands Wealth Management Association, which represents investment management firms in the Channel Islands. What attracted you to being on this Committee?

I was approached by its founding members, who needed someone to assist with the treasurer function and they were aware of my experience and in the finance sector. The CIWMA’s focus and its initiatives sounded very interesting, it was something I believed needed local representation and if I can do my small part as a treasurer, that’s motivation enough to lend my support.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life, what lessons have they taught you and what would be your advice to a young Mehul?

Ok, so this is a tough question... I would say there have been many! I feel blessed that I have met a number of very interesting people over the years... I do think we meet certain people in life at poignant moments in time... karma may be at play, perhaps. I guess my family has been the biggest influence; treat people the way you would want to be treated, a philosophy which clearly starts at home.

My advice to young Mehul... believe in your ability and don’t be scared to make mistakes, as you will only learn and improve!