The Last Word: Vinay and Puneet Behl

A closer look at some of the intriguing, inspiring and imaginative folks who are the heart of the AICPA.
BY CHERYL ROSEN

Vinay and Puneet Behl, CPAs
Vinay—Senior manager, finance and accounting, R Systems Inc.
Puneet —Finance manager, Bickmore Risk Services

Vinay’s story:

I WANTED TO MARRY PUNEET THE DAY I MET HER. On the second day I proposed and on the third I left for America. I came back two months later and married her. We complement each other. She’s in government management accounting and I’m a corporate audit guy. We studied together for the CPA exam for four months and both got excellent marks; Puneet got the highest score in the state of Oregon.

I HAVE A BACHELOR’S IN ACCOUNTING, TRAINED IN INDIA for chartered accountancy and have a Master’s in financial management. I work for R Systems, which just went public on the Bombay Stock Exchange. They transferred me to the United States in 1999. I head the finance department and manage a staff of seven.

MY DAD RETIRED AS A COLONEL IN THE INDIAN ARMY. He’d be in the field, on the border by Pakistan, but he’d write me tons of letters. I was the best student in college because he always monitored my progress and urged me to take courses in accounting and business.

THE FIRST THING I DID WHEN I ARRIVED IN AMERICA was take courses in American history and American English, which is quite different from British English. That really helped me understand the culture and fit in. It was a great honor for me to be sent here, and a promotion. The United States is the ultimate destination for business.

PUNEET AND I LOVE TO TRAVEL. North America is spectacular and we have traveled widely in the West and central states and Canada. I also love music. Whenever I am stressed out, I play the drums. It helps me get my creative energy together.

PUNEET HAS REALLY HELPED ME, balancing work and home in a new country, away from her family. Now I’m studying for an MBA in finance and auditing. When I get my degree I’m going to send her to Harvard to thank her for all she has done for me.

Puneet’s story:

I HAD NEVER DATED ANOTHER ACCOUNTANT BEFORE I MET VINAY, and it’s been fun from the very beginning. On our first date we went out to dinner and talked and laughed for hours. I just knew it was right. It really is nice now that we can discuss our work at home. It’s good to have his insight, and I try to help him, too.

WE DECIDED TO BECOME CPAs THE DAY WE GOT MARRIED. Even in India it’s very important. We got married in March 2002, came to America in April, and took the CPA exam in November.

I MISS MY FAMILY, BUT WE LOVE LIVING IN THE UNITED STATES. . I love the work culture here; there’s more appreciation for what you do. When I first arrived Vinay had a job, but I didn’t have a work visa yet, so I got to study for the CPA exam all day. I already had a master’s degree in accounting. Accounting is accounting everywhere in the world and Indian accounting principles are based on U.S. GAAP, so we had the fundamentals already.

—As told to Cheryl Rosen

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