What is your role as a governance professional?
‘In the capacity of a governance professional, I am currently involved in designing and implementing the anti-money laundering compliance framework. As part of the first line of defence, I played a role implementing the company’s compliance programme and enhancing governance. I am responsible for not only ensuring that the company’s compliance programme meets all relevant regulatory requirements but also that our practices are aligned with international best practice. Previously, I acted as an internal second line of defence conducting compliance monitoring and assurance work at branch offices.’
What was your career path to your current role?
‘My career began in a professional firm as an auditor, but later I moved into advisory services. A fraud-related case I encountered led to a pivotal moment in my career. The case taught me that, without proper governance, companies can cause tremendous loss to both investors and society. This prompted my move to the compliance field and my current work building and refining compliance frameworks in an in-house context. Different roles have different limitations and I believe ensuring sound governance practices requires the collaboration of many different roles.’
What value does governance bring to organisations and to wider society?
‘Governance is a lubricant that helps organisations deliver solid and stable growth in the best interests of shareholders. Although developing a sound governance structure takes time and requires resources, the benefits definitely outweigh the costs in the medium to long run. The benefits include minimising regulatory risks and building a strong reputation and investor confidence. Governance does not only benefit organisations, however – a strong governance culture is the cornerstone of a successful international financial centre (IFC). An IFC with a reputation as a mature financial market attracts international investors and reduces the information costs for the public searching for suitable investments.’
What qualities do you think are needed to be a successful governance professional?
‘I’m still learning how to be a better governance professional, but from my past experience I believe that having a good general knowledge while also being sceptical, courageous and open-minded are the key qualities. Having a good general knowledge helps to alert you to “red flags” when you encounter unusual situations. It is not always easy to determine the real story behind such unusual situations, so being open-minded and sceptical are necessary in finding the answer. Last but not least, courage is the most difficult quality you will need when escalating issues to a higher level when you encounter problems.’
How do you think governance will evolve in the future?
‘Governance is evolving with the more widespread use of technology. In the past decade, technology has played a key role in governance processes such as record-keeping. Currently, technology is evolving to provide substantial support to the governance process, including robotic process automation, optical character recognition and application programming interface technologies. This reduces human involvement, and therefore the possibility of human error, in certain mechanic processes and operations, but it is not meant to replace humans with technology. We still need to be involved in interpreting the data and designing the entire control process, and ensuring that significant risks are mitigated. Human involvement in processes has therefore become more a matter of monitoring and decision-making.’
What inspires you in your life and work?
‘Yoga inspires me and helps me achieve a better work–life balance. Yoga is not only an exercise for me, it is also a life philosophy. I went to India to attend a yoga training course and have followed the life journey to be a yogini. I have taught yoga for about five years, sharing my yoga journey with my students.’
How do you fill your time outside work?
‘My day usually involves morning or after-work yoga practice with my friends. I also reserve some time for my yoga teaching during weekends.’