Deloitte Audit Partner, Haridas ‘Das’ Kanagasabai: Making Waves

D.cisions magazine – Issue 9

The journey of Deloitte Audit Partner Haridas Kanagasabai - the first SMU Accountancy graduate to make partnership in the Big Four.

Deloitte Audit Partner Haridas ‘Das’ Kanagasabai is the first person from the pioneer batch of the SMU School of Accountancy to make partnership among the Big Four firms. He regarded this as his proudest career achievement as it is a milestone which took years of dedication and hard work.

“To be able to contribute in my own way and be one of those making waves from the pioneer batch makes me really proud and truly grateful,” Das revealed.

Das picked Audit for his career back at university as the wide range of challenges and opportunities of the work appealed enormously to him. Even after all these years and now being a Partner, Das still finds the role brings new challenges and keeps him wanting more!

In spite of the pressures, Das reveals that there are three things that make up the best part of his career: the neverending learning journey, his clients and his team. Das said, “There is always something to learn every day and that is exciting and stimulating. Talking to clients and helping them navigate their issues is always sweet and makes your work worthwhile knowing that you have helped to make a difference and positive impact. As for my team – being a part of their development and watching them grow makes me look forward to coming to work every day.”

What he likes most about working in Audit is the team: or as he describes it “The camaraderie. The esprit de corps spirit”. Das feels that Audit is an undoubtedly challenging career, but surmounting the seemingly unsurmountable is possible when the people work together. He particularly enjoys working at Deloitte because of its people, culture and the bonding. “We are an organisation that works together but also plays together. We will help and look after one another. It’s the only way we know”, voiced Das.

In fact, Das felt this spirit from his very first interaction with the firm – at his interview! Das shared, “I went for interviews at all the Big Four firms but Deloitte’s interviewers impressed me the most and it was clear that they wanted the best for me and wanted the best fit for me.”

Over the years, Das concluded that the Deloitte culture is really about the people and the way they interact. “We are happy to discuss and to hear alternative views, and we have a friendly working environment so that ideas and people thrive,” he added.

Out of the many opportunities that Deloitte has provided him to get to where he is today, Das shares that the most memorable experience was his time on the Global Mobility Programme (GMP) when he was seconded to Deloitte’s Denver office for two years. Apart from being able to see gorgeous mountains through his office window all day long, Das broadened his horizons, appreciated other cultures, and forged relationships with people of different backgrounds.

He also learnt how to be an effective communicator, think differently and approach issues that stretch across geographies in a sensitive manner. “In a borderless world, this is a core skill and an intangible asset in your personal skills repertoire that has benefitted me greatly,” emphasised Das

“You will only experience exponential personal growth when you challenge yourself to work outside of your comfort zone and the GMP experience was a clear example of that – as I was clearly a better person as I returned back to the Singapore office,” said Das.

On his return from his GMP experience, Das was appointed the Chairman of our Recreation Club from 2012 to 2013, and he developed networks across the Singapore office and across the various functions, and worked together with his Committee members to help create more exciting interaction opportunities for our staff and partners.

"Stepping up as the Rec Club Chairman has enabled me to expand my personal networks within Deloitte, providing me the opportunity to work with many colleagues across the different departments. The Rec Club has been instrumental in contributing towards my personal growth and development, eventually paving the way for me to become a partner.”


My advice to undergraduates

Q. What are your secrets to success?

  1. Don’t give up – there will be bad and good days. Don’t let the bad days stay in your head – get over it and press on.
  2. Find an excellent mentor or mentors. There have been so many people who have advised me throughout my career – you need to have a good sounding board – seek out the mentor you like the most and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
  3. Read widely – Develop an unmatchable intellectual curiosity and keep your thirst for knowledge going.

Q. What are the top tips you would offer to undergraduates to help them find a career that they love?

Experiment if you don’t know what is it that you want to do. It’s perfectly fine not knowing what to do - so don’t be afraid to explore and audit offers an excellent platform to try various industries to find a career that you can enjoy.

Q. What advice would you offer to undergraduates who want to pursue a career in Audit?

Be ready for an exhilarating ride and do as many internships as possible so that you are ready and know what to expect.

Q. What skills should students hone in their undergraduate years which would be valued in the field of Audit?

Think assurance of the future – think data analytics, internet of things, industry 4.0, Fintech – think of what assurance service lines are required in the future and whether your current skill-set is going to help you deliver that. There is disruption and there are inflection points – as we move into industry 4.0 – and these give some truly unique opportunities for all of you.

Q. What type of traits will help one excel in Audit?

A genuine love for learning every day, an unassailable work ethic, a love for teams and talking to people.

Das's journey timeline

In issue 9, discover the journey of Deloitte Audit Partner Haridas Kanagasabai – the first SMU Accountancy graduate to make partnership in the Big Four. Learn the secrets to success shared by our ex-interns on their unique internship experiences. In addition, Deloitte continues to make an impact with its largest ever charity event, as well as a series of CSR activities in August 2017.

Find out how you can make an impact with us. Download issue 9 now!

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