From Hogwarts to the Big Apple

From Hogwarts to the Big Apple

Raj Bavishi (1995–2002) is a Director with global audit and consulting firm Mazars in New York, a city he has long made his home. But this term he made a visit back to QE with his family – and received a friendly challenge from the Headmaster.

“Raj has a talent for bringing people together,” said Mr Enright “so I have challenged him to help us develop an OE network in the Big Apple.”

Raj, who is pictured above with the Headmaster, Deputy Head (Pastoral) David Ryan and Head of External Relations Matthew Rose, relished many aspects of School life. He was a librarian for three years and remembers at a tender age being tasked with fixing the photocopier! He enjoyed playing rugby, adding:  “In sporting terms, the School is phenomenal, competing with the likes of Eton and Habs.”

One highlight that sticks in his mind is the research & presentation course he took. “I really enjoyed that class the most, partly because it prepared you for public speaking. Also, at that time, you didn’t Google everything: it was all about going to the library and trying to do some research. Teaching that is not something that every school does.

“I used to love the Founder’s Day Fete. As you get older and into your twenties and thirties, you look back and think ‘how lucky we were to have a Founder’s Day Fete.’” He had long regaled his Brooklyn-born wife, Drusty, with his tales of very British institutions such as Founder’s Day and Sports Day, and of taking part in inter-House competitions for Broughton, convincing her that her husband had, in fact, been to a school somewhat akin to Hogwarts! She had the chance to see for herself when she accompanied Raj on his visit, during which the Headmaster presented their three-and-a-half year-old son, Yash, with his own Broughton rugby shirt. Raj is shown below in his Year 7 form photo, second row from the front, third from the left.

“QE has helped me in specific ways a couple of times in my life. In my A-level results, I missed out on one grade and, if it wasn’t for the School making a phone call, I don’t think UCL would have taken me.”

He took up his place at UCL, reading Mathematics and Economics. “I was definitely a numbers guy: I always wanted to be an accountant.”

As he neared the end of his degree, he got a second-round interview with one of the Big Four accountancy firms. “One partner said: ‘My son did not get into QE’: he understood what going to QE meant.” He duly received an offer from the firm, but it lapsed when he received a 2:2 instead of the 2:1 required for the place. Instead, he secured a job with a smaller firm. “Sometimes failures happen for a reason. If I had gone to one of the Big Four, I wouldn’t have had the mentorship and the wider opportunities to see different sorts of transactions that I had with my first firm.”

It was while establishing himself in this job that through a family friend he met Michael Bernstein, a senior figure working in New York’s accountancy scene. “I call him my Jewish father: to survive in New York , you need a Jewish father!” He invited Raj to come and work in the US and so, on September 23rd 2006, he moved across the Atlantic, starting work on 1st October from offices opposite Bloomingdale’s, the famous department store.

Through mergers, that firm is now part of one of the accounting industry giant, Mazars, for which both he and Mr Bernstein, who today leads its private equity and transaction services practices, still work. “It has given me a good platform,” said Raj. Auditing was for a long time his “bread and butter” work: “I really enjoyed understanding a business and systems and processes. Using flow charts was a big skill that I learned at QE!”

Since 2014, he has worked in the financial advisory department; his role as Financial Advisory – Director involves him working closely with private equity providers, banks and the companies involved.

Reflecting on his life and career, Raj is clear about the benefits that QE has brought him. “QE actually did give us a good grounding. At that stage of your life, it’s important to have some discipline and sense of responsibility. There are of course always two ways of looking at things, but I think QE does teach you responsibility and it does give you the skillset to build your career in the way you want to.”

Pictured here with OE friends at a reunion earlier this year, Raj uses social media – originally Facebook, but now largely WhatsApp – to keep in touch with fellow alumni.

  • If you would like to be part of the New York Old Elizabethan network, email and we’ll put you in touch with Raj.