Reema’s team member spotlight was published to honor and celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month as she resonates with the country of India..
What’s your job title and how long have you worked at CBM?
I am a manager and financial advisor. I have been at CBM for more than 7 years.
What inspired you to work in accounting?
Reema Patel (right) attends a wedding with her mom.
I was pre-med when I started college at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. I was so sure I wanted to be a pediatrician; all my high school electives were science classes. But once I started college and had to think more seriously about my future, I could not handle the idea of uncertainty for such a huge part of my life: getting the right test scores, getting accepted into medical school, rotations and residency, etc. My personality favored a plan that I could largely control, so I started exploring different possible career pursuits and ended up with accounting. A career path in accounting complemented my risk-averse nature, and I could easily plan how I would go about building a career around it, taking out all of the uncertainty that came with a medical career.
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
I love being a part of a smart, ambitious, innovative team. Working with people toward a common goal energizes me.
Do you have any advice for people looking to enter accounting or work at CBM?
Our industry is very fast-paced, client-facing and ever-changing. Keys to success in such a field are strong organization, thinking outside the box, enjoying working with people and openness to change.
How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?
When I was growing up, my parents tried to instill their customs and cultural traditions onto my brother and me to maintain their ties to their lives in India. Over time that started to decrease as my brother and I took little interest. I never paid much attention to my heritage growing up, otherwise. I think we sometimes distanced ourselves from that part of our identity because we didn’t have a lot of other children like us around. It was also very hard to look and be different, especially as a kid, so we minimized the parts that made us different and focused more on sharing similar interests as our peers.
Reema visits the Grand Canyon with her boyfriend, Jonathan.
It wasn’t until my adult life that I realized this was a common experience for many others like us, and we did this because success was often related to proximity to ‘whiteness’ and being able to blend in. I think in many ways we’ve become more open as a society to these differences and that’s a positive feeling, but you still see how much anti-immigrant, anti-Asian, anti-Black, anti-anyone-different-from-the-dominant culture hate still exists and so there’s a lot to improve on.
But it’s a shame because I feel I’ve lost a big part of my culture in that process. I try to make up for that now by being more intentional about what aspects of our culture are meaningful to my family and incorporate those into my relationship with my white, Jewish boyfriend. Our experiences of being children of immigrants help connect us in many ways, and also made us more open to each other’s cultures and re-connect and deepen our relationships with our own. We’ve shared foods, holidays, language, traditions that are important to our families and learned them together.
Does your family have any traditions that are especially important to you?
The strongest connection I have with my family is over food. I remember helping my mom make Indian food when I was a kid, and that interest continued into my cooking as an adult. I often call my mom to ask her questions on how to make our favorite India dishes. She ‘just knows’ how much of each ingredient to put in and I have not mastered that skill but that would be the ultimate goal. My family would have Indian tea every single day, and ever since I moved out on my own, I have continued that tradition as well and even introduced it to my boyfriend who now makes it even better than I do!
What are some interesting hobbies or talents most people may not know about you?
When I work, I listen to movie scores to help me focus. Not the soundtracks to a movie of popular songs, but the actual instrumental background music from movies.
What’s your favorite book or podcast?
Wearing a CBM mask during the pandemic, Reema visit Montreal.
What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
This is a reminder to me of all the immigrants who came to the United States prior to my parents and paved the way for future generations. My parents faced their own unique struggles in leaving their homes, families and everything they knew behind for a mere promise of a better life. They faced so much hardship in that process, but they were lucky compared to the treatment of previous immigrant groups. AAPI month is one small way to honor and recognize what all those that came before me went through and the contributions they made to this society.