Harsh Girish Patel: Driving Global Excellence in Legal & Accounting Services through Water and Shark
Exclusive Interview of Harsh Patel of Water and Shark. Edited by Powered Magazine
Harsh Patel is a highly accomplished professional with a strong background in International Corporate and Business Laws, tax, cross-border structuring, family office, corporate compliance, real estate transaction advisory, start-up venturing, and strategic advisory. As the Founding Member and Global CEO of Water and Shark, he has established the company in numerous countries, including India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and others.
Tell us about yourself and your business.
I am the founder and chief executive officer of Water and Shark, and my name is Harsh Girish Patel. I have law licences to practise in several nations, including the UAE, India, the UK, and others. I am a corporate lawyer and a qualified chartered accountant.
My journey as a professional began with a small dream. A dream to be able to help others and showcase my abilities as a problem solver. To define and establish myself as a leader of the new age, and to help others grow along with me. I embarked upon a journey to become a chartered accountant, one of the most coveted professional qualifications one can aspire to have. Once I was able to achieve this, it motivated me to further enhance my skills. At the mere age of 19, I was able to start my own business and venture out into the vast waters of the business world. Hence began the journey of water and sharks.
What were your biggest challenges when starting your business?
I started the journey in a tiny office in a metro city in India and have scaled it and expanded it from a regional firm to a global firm in the past decade. Yes, it was a roller coaster ride with its ups and downs, where a decade ago the technology, the infrastructure, the team, and the requisite skill sets were not easily attainable. But with a vision to be the world's best and to be able to compete in the same ring as the industry stalwarts, we motivated and drove ourselves to where we are.
How have you handled success and failure over the course of your career?
Personally, I attribute my success not only to myself but also to those who have supported and guided me throughout my journey. People who stay by you during your hardship are those who deserve to be with you during your success. I have always re-evaluated my methods and choices when I have faced challenges that seemed unsurmountable in order to ensure that I don’t repeat them. And in my success, I have never let my hunger die.
What strategies do you use to stay competitive in a changing market?
We consider ourselves a one stop shop for the modern era. With this belief, we claim to be up to date with the ongoing trends. We try to blend our style and essence into modern methods of business and cater to clients' requests. We tend to be creative with ads and urge everyone to be relentless. The motto is to do better and be better, not only today but to compete with tomorrow.
What motivations drive you to keep pushing forward in the face of adversity?
I am a firm believer that problems and challenges give way to opportunities, and these opportunities build and shape your foundation for growth. During the pandemic, we have seen many businesses face challenges and difficulties; we are no different, but having a positive attitude and perseverance has enabled us and the firm to move forward. Trust and faith that these are just challenges and not the end, and by sticking together and collectively putting our minds towards the challenge, we overcome it. Being able to stand firm in tumultuous times is a sign of a strong foundation, which we have nurtured and established in the last decade.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their chosen field?
My advice to beginners would be that every path or journey you embark upon will be filled with hardships and challenges. It’s the mindset and the discipline that prevail to conquer these challenges and achieve what you have set out to do. If you fail or falter, it's not the end; you can always choose a different approach. Life is long, and it offers more opportunities than one can imagine, but opportunities come to those who seek them. So be confident, be smart, and do not let the negatives drag you down; keep on learning from your failures.
How have technological advances affected the way you conduct business or operate your venture?
Yes, technology has eased the way business is conducted. Living in the 21st century, we are surrounded by technology that is constantly evolving and advancing. Any firm that fails to adapt to or embrace technology in their business will be left behind. Be it in any part of the industry, business, or sector, including financial and legal profession firms, from the reduction of human intervention to automating and efficiently optimising services, there has been a significant advancement in the new business era. Due to technological changes, we are able to provide services across the globe without any hindrance. Our employees can work from remote locations, which helps improve their morale with such flexible working conditions. Overall, technological changes, especially in the last two decades, have helped businesses grow manifolds, including ours.
In what ways has customer feedback or response influenced how you prioritise goals or objectives for your business or venture?
A customer’s feedback is always to be taken as positive, because it would either be an appraisal of the service you have provided or an insight on what could be better. Being able to offer your services in a better manner gives you immeasurable satisfaction.
What trends do you see emerging in your industry that are likely to shape its future growth and development?
Due to advancements in technology and the rapid growth of digitization, the advisory and service industries are no longer confined to geographical boundaries. Sitting in one corner of the world, you will be able to advise clients all over the world. With the right skills and mindset and by aptly utilising the resources around us, the growth for this service sector is exponentially high.
What have been the most rewarding and difficult aspects of your chosen career or business path?
Every businessman on the path to success has to be willing to lose something. Sacrifice is the key to achieving something that is not easy to get. To be where I am today, I have sacrificed my comfort, my time, and many other things that were difficult. But these sacrifices have gotten me where I am, and that is the most rewarding thing. To be able to stand at a podium with other stalwarts of the business community is a feat not achieved by many.
Are there any skills or areas of expertise that you think are essential for success in your field?
In the service industry, knowledge and communication go hand in hand. One without the other would never lead to success. You need to be aware of all the changes in your industry and the world and be up to date about the latest trends while being presentable and having the right skills to convey the message in its true essence.
How has working remotely or online impacted your business or venture over the past year?
Working remotely has been both a boon and a bane. As a boutique firm engaged in providing business solutions and services to clients, it can be done from any corner of the world, which has provided a sense of flexibility in work. But at the same time, the impact of being physically present for a client is not good. Certain times, being physically present, be it in a meeting or an office work space, plays a significant role for not only the business but for an individual too.
What tips would you like to offer to others who are in a similar position to you but looking to take their careers or businesses further?
My sincerest advice to others in a similar position is that, in the world of business, the ups and downs are the only constants. Embrace these moments in their stride and keep on developing yourself. The key is to take your failures as lessons and your successes as milestones to achieve something greater and bigger. With all the knowledge of the world at the tip of your fingers, only you can steer your ship to the shores of success.