As I look back at the 30 odd years that I have spent in the profession, I feel a sense of satisfaction and joy. I recount the number of times, when I found myself at crossroads, and ventured along the untrodden path, the road less travelled.
What is a Chemistry student doing in a CA firm?
I completed my graduation in Science stream, majoring in Chemistry. After graduation, unlike most of my peers, I found myself signing up for articleship for Chartered Accountancy – little did I know then that this was not to be the first time I was stepping away from the beaten track.
The Early Inspiration
The initial seeds of inspiration for internal auditing and consulting were planted by my mentor, Shri Shailesh Haribhakti during my articleship and I was fortunate to have guidance from a number of mentors including Dr. N. Balasubramanian thereafter. To equip myself for a career in Internal Audit I pursued CIA (Certified Internal Auditor). Stability to weather the initial storm of long gestation period in practice was provided by my partners: partner in office, Manish Pipalia, and partner in life, my wife, Sangita.
Questioning the Status Quo
Starting out with conducting internal audits, risk management and consulting assignments, I was soon focusing on these assignments with a “positive dissatisfaction” of ‘what and how these were being done’ and ‘what should be and could be done’. This was a continuous dilemma and thought process -this journey from ‘what is’ to ‘what should be’ has always enchanted me. I found myself engaging with the internal audit community to collaborate to change the way internal audit was being conducted including bringing in a strong consulting focus. Opting for specialization in Internal audit at an early age helped me to remain focused and also become a catalyst for change.
Many Doors Keep Opening Up
Professional interactions with the internal audit community in India and abroad coupled with an attitude of professional sharing with the internal audit community led to opportunities of speaking assignments, training engagements, holding positions such as President, Institute of Internal Auditors, India, Bombay Chapter, and as a Member of Academic Relations Committee, IIA Inc., Florida, USA, Internal Audit Standards Board, ICAI and also in the BCAS etc. The wide exposure to new ideas and interactions with the stalwarts of the Internal Audit profession humbled me and also empowered me greatly. I started seeing myself as a catalyst for my clients and a change agent for my profession. I have always wanted nothing but the best for my clients and for my profession.
Sharing Strengthens A Profession
Continuous emphasis on professional sharing also led to designing internal audit courses for BCAS and INGAF, Controller General of Accounts. Writing articles and books became a habit. One such endeavour was to interview fourteen CAEs of leading organizations in India and publishing the best practices for the benefit of the internal audit community at large; another exercise led to BCAS releasing a book titled ‘Internal Audit – Practical Case Studies’ that was a compilation of articles published in the BCA journal over seven years.
A Step Ahead –Introducing Frameworks and Technology to India
Studying contemporary developments and meeting CAEs abroad specially North America, Australia and Europe brought out the emerging frameworks and technology being used in the profession. Successful attempts were made to bring such advanced frameworks and emerging technology to the professional community here in India. Analytics, audit process automation, risk management solutions were made available almost 20 years back. Use of technology solutions has now become a ‘given’ for any progressive internal audit team.
From Internal Audit to Management Consulting
A collateral advantage of travelling far and wide has been the appreciation of different cultures and the way professionals think and work in different geographies in India and abroad. Professional interactions, with the business and academic community outside of internal audit, in general management area, like CEOs, CFOs, professors in India and abroad, increased understanding of management styles and needs. At this stage Peter Drucker’s Principles and Philosophy of management and leadership entered my thought process. This opened up opportunities that eventually led to becoming the World President for the Drucker Society and interaction with leading management thinkers like Prof. C.K.Prahalad, Charles Handy, Joseph Massierillo and others. Perspectives gleaned from such interactions have only helped in value addition to clients and graduating to be a management advisor to businesses.
Milestones of My Journey
All this has been enabled by ‘keeping an open mind’, an attitude of positive dissatisfaction of where one is and a strong desire to change the status quo, exploring and applying new ideas, adapting to change and learning continuously through professional sharing. The most important pillar has been a strong “people orientation”.
To conclude, the way to achieve professional satisfaction and growth is to:
I share my unusual journey here so that it may provide courage to someone who is standing at a crossroad, or to someone who is waiting at a door half-open wondering what lies beyond. I remember Robert Frost’s poem which said “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood….. and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference”.
To all those at crossroads I say, take the road less travelled by and see the difference that it makes!
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