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Debashis Gupta
Debashis Gupta

Debashis Gupta

Chief Audit Executive

Max Healthchare

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Couple of years from now
In the near future, I see myself in a forward-looking organization with strong governance processes, furthering the cause of integration of risk management with internal audit. I'd like to be in a position to catalyze the evolution of internal audit progressively to an 'always on' paradigm, with continuous audit and closely working with continuous control monitoring processes to deliver increased value to organization. In line with IIA vision, I see myself moving up from control and risk evaluations to review of governance processes.
Influenced by
At a professional level, (a) my former boss who taught me to look at the larger picture, while still adhering to the set processes of internal audit and risk assessment, and (b) Norman Marks, the thought leader formerly with SAP, who opened my eyes to the potentials of continuous risk and controls monitoring (besides enriching my perspectives with his balanced & practical views on risk management and governance).

At a personal level, the thoughts of Paramhansa Yogananda, the venerable founder of Self Realization Fellowship, US and Yogoda Satsang Society, India - his insights, cutting across teachings in major religious theologies, prime me everyday to look for the larger meaning of life.
Degree that I recommend
Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification of IIA
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) of ISACA
An appropriate risk management certification from a global professional body like RIMS
(I consider that a certified accountant qualification like CPA, CA, etc., while it may help in making sense of the numbers, is neither essential nor sufficient for an internal audit and risk management related role and, in certain cases, may actually hinder the person from looking beyond the numbers at the larger picture - something I learned the hard way while starting my career as an internal auditor, where I had to 'unlearn' quite a few of my skills!)
Thoughts on Education system of our country
At a mass level, having seen how the education system works at the grassroots level in India (during my travels while with the NGO), I feel there should be more emphasis in primary education on functional literacy and numeracy. It's surprising to know that while the definition of basic literacy in China is the ability to understand and write about 1500 words, in India it's defined as just the ability to write one's name! Pathetic! Well delivered primary education, and an emphasis on continuation to secondary education by preventing drop offs, can raise the plight of a sizable mass of people above their current condition.

At the other end, for undergraduate and tertiary education, there appears to be too much emphasis on bookish knowledge and learning by rote, rather than on the practical and functional aspects of learning. There should be more opportunities for internship (as part of the education curriculum, somewhat on the lines of 'industrial training' for a CA) & industry exp.
My family background
I grew up in a firmly middle-class Indian family. My father was an officer with Delhi Cantonment Board, the civic body for Army areas. We are five brothers and sisters, all now settled in and around Delhi. My parents passed away quite a while back. I belong to the Bengali ethnic group, and we try to keep alive our culture in North India with our language and by participating in community activities like Durga Puja (during Dussehra season).
More about myself
I try to give it back to society by being associated with a local organization working on socio-religious activities and establishments. In my role as the finance incharge, I try to inculcate good financial and governance practices into a traditional organization. The experience also helps me hone my skills, in a micro setting, relating to organizational dynamics and negotiation/persuation!
Ensuring success
On the professional front, I keep uptodate with the latest thinking on issues of professional interest, especially risk management and internal audit domain. I do this primarily through participation in online fora and communities with vigorous exchange of thought leadership, and occasionally through participating in events, mainly those organized by IIA and other professional bodies, and the occasional internal/corporate group event. With the firm belief that technology is set to become all pervasive in our lives, I keep looking for practical ways to integrate technology into our work - I've recently catalyzed implementation of PAWS audit workflow automation solution for our internal audit group.

On the personal front, I continue my endeavor to find the greater meaning of life, mainly through accessing appropriate literature and thought leadership on the subject...
My role model
Norman Marks, an accomplished chief audit executive, formerly with SAP and now a recognized thought leader. His way of always looking at the practical perspective, while dealing with complex professional issues of utmost significance, is inspiring.
Initiative to develop a country
1. Inculcate the highest standards of ethics in their own work internally and in dealing with issues of importance to society at large.
2. Make efforts to propagate the value of ethics and good governance among the set of stakeholders they deal with (within the overall limitations of role and livelihood).
3. Be forward-looking as well as 'outward looking', thus inculcating both futuristic vision (including the practical use of technology) and widespread best practices to incorporate in their work.
My strongest skill
1. Integrity and ethical beliefs & behavior.
2. 'Big picture' orientation.
3. Forward-looking approach.
4. Proclivity towards mentoring young professionals.
5. Ability to work in and with multi-cultural settings and people.
6. Head for numbers and language.
Brief description about me
I am a Chartered Accountant by training, with a Masters in business studies. Have gained the CISA certification in later years. I've lived most of my life with my small family in and around Delhi NCR, India. Started my career with a few years of professional practice, shifted to industry and then to an international NGO where I was travelling around Asia and Africa on audit and risk assessment assignments, working with or leading teams of multi-cultural experienced professionals from diverse domains. Have been in internal audit field since last 10 years, initially with the NGO and then in infrastructure and lately healthcare sectors. Have gained an amount of exposure to building up internal audit shops from scratch and also mentoring young professionals from diverse fields. Enjoy my work hugely, especially where it provides me opportunities to 'indulge' in my other hobby, technology. Also contribute to social initiatives as a key member/office bearer of a local organization.
Qualities needed to become a successful leader
In my opinion, an aspiring leader first of all needs to inculcate empathy, a willingness to understand others and respect their views, even if different from one's own. Secondly, the ability to suborn one's own interests to that of others, esp. those led, thus synergizing the efforts of a whole group by motivating them with due credit & recognition among other things. And thirdly, the ability to take hard and sometimes unpopular decisions, where in line with the long-term vision, and not cling to the attraction of being perceived as a nice person by everyone.
My achievements
a) Making the transition from a hardcore finance & control-focused professional to a 'big picture' person.
b) Mentoring a succession of young professionals to become accomplished professionals in their own right.
c) Inculcating a forward-looking view on technology and using it in whatever form possible within the given context.
Important lesson learned
One, it's important to not lose sight of small-looking doables (for instance, the language of your communication) while striving for bigger goals. Second, it's only by encouraging and taking one's team along that one may hope to succeed. Third, despite the cynicism all around, there is still a lot of basic goodness left in most people, if only we make efforts to let it express itself rather than focusing on the negative (while being aware of the 'worst case scenario' and making provisions for it!).
Important decision
A) Letting go of a settled corporate career with good benefits and plunging into the non-profit field - I discovered hugely increased potential to add value there and making a real difference to the lives of people, and also that the governance mechanisms in many non-profit organizations are better and more forward-looking that many for-profit enterprises.
B) Jettisoning the finance & control focus of my career and transitioning to an internal audit and risk management role - I find that while professional opportunities in this domain may be more limited than the wider field of general finance (being perhaps more dependent on the level of governance and risk management maturity of organizations), the domain has the potential to provide huge professional satisfaction and opportunity to add value.
C) Taking a 'nurturing' & developmental approach (for want of a better term) to leadership rather than a more authoritative one - has paid rich dividends by way of maximizing team commitment.
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