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Another week, another driven guest on The xMonks Drive Podcast. This week we have Shailesh Haribhakti, a man dedicated to saving our planet with the meticulous use of technological developments.

The conversation was very exciting. Let’s dive into it.

Innovation Is Exciting

Gaurav: So Shailesh, you are a chairman of an organization. You are a chartered accountant. You are a cost accountant. You are a certified financial planner. You are an internal auditor, you’re a fraud examiner, you are an auditor, of course, an author of two books. You are on the board of directors of several organizations. And I can go on and on and on. So how does it feel to be a hobby party Shailesh?

Shailesh: It feels very exciting. I’m excited because there’s so much promise around me. Almost every company that I sit on the board of, has a wonderful path chopped out for itself. There have been ups and there have been downs, but most of them are looking to the future with great confidence. There is such a lot of innovation going on around.

The biggest excitement for me is because the world has finally come to accept that we need to focus our minds on sustainability on making the planet ready for our grandchildren. That’s what excites me the most today that everybody, by consensus all over the world has decided to, in a concerted way, save our only home planet. To me, that is the most exciting part of everything that I do. Wherever I go, I’m using the lens of sustainability. Connected with that is the excitement of moving. That is the other excitement that I experienced today.

Jealousy Turned Into Ambition

Gaurav: If you were to draw comparisons, and how Shailesh has evolved in his ways of looking at the world, the way he responds to situations and the way he shows up for the world?

Shailesh: When I was 21, I was very competitive. I wanted to win, every mandate, I wanted to win over any challenge that came up before me. So I was very driven, I would take the opportunity to go and present wherever there was a chance. By God’s grace I was selected to participate. I mean, for one year, I worked for Arthur and company in Chicago. So before they allowed anybody to get on to any work, they had a 14 day very rigorous program, which was very competitive. And the prize at the end of that program was whoever came on out top would get the audit of McDonald’s. So I wanted to, I wanted to get there, if I remember. So I aimed for that. And I got it. So my first audit was McDonald’s Corporation in Chicago.

Today, when I see myself, I have no such competitive impulses. Today, my impulse is how can I bring more people? How can I include more people? How can I be fully fed? How can I be more distributed? In everything that I do? What did I learn? How do I spread it? So the instinct is exactly the reverse of what it was at age 25. It is a giving away and the emotion at the end of it is that all my jealousy has been converted to admiration.

The Defining Moment: Reinventing the Idea of Being

Gaurav: Could you recall a couple of defining moments that have started to shift that started to bring these shifts in your life?

Shailesh: I think the two things that made the shift.

One when I felt the need to reinvent myself. The need to make more sense. So I became more interested in audit quality. More interested in making sure that the entire financial system is audited in a way that will make it more robust, that will make it deliver its value to the world.

The other defining moment came to me when I figured out that to take on a completely new subject, like sustainability, takes only one thing, an open mind. If you keep your mind open, anything will come your way. I didn’t know much about data sets, I didn’t know much about energy, computation. I didn’t know anything about energy transition. I did not know almost anything about modern day slavery.  There are so many things that were completely new, that I was able to capture and integrate into my thinking. I call it the infrastructure of thinking.


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About The Speaker: Shailesh Haribhakti

Mr. Haribhakti is a Chartered and Cost Accountant, an Internal Auditor and a Certified Financial Planner & Fraud Examiner. He is a Board Chairman, Audit Committee Chair and Independent Director at some of the country’s most preeminent organizations. He is a well-known thought leader on the Indian Economy and Public Policy. He is an ExTech (Exponential Technologies), ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) & IR (Integrated Reporting) Evangelist. He is also an author of 2 books – “The Digital Professional” and “Audit Renaissance”. Mr. Haribhakti is highly passionate about the above and actively speaks about them at various forums.