Building on our values: A quiet accountant

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A quiet accountant in an organization that deals with more than 500 partners, more than 80 staff members, more than five government departments and more than five donors, is easy to be forgotten. That is what happened to Dhiraj in Alliance India.

In October 2016, I took charge as the Chief Executive (CE) of Alliance India. I had earlier been working here in the capacity of Director of Policy and Programme for nine long years, and was excited to fill in the new shoes. I understood that the transition from the position of Director to CE can only take place when I have the confidence of each and every member of the Alliance family. I took a step towards enabling this by meeting the staff members on an individual basis to understand their concerns and expectations from the new Executive. That was the first time I “heard” Dhiraj. I realized that he has great understanding of compliances, but what made him stand out was his readiness to support people. He even supported us to get our Aadhar Cards (citizen identity cards that are soon going to work as bona-fide document for Indians), provident fund processes, tax returns et al, ensuring that the organization and individuals working here are able to get the maximal benefits. I was truly impressed that this unassuming person has been so instrumental in furthering organizational values.

Time passed on and now I am six months into the job. When the then co-Director of Alliance India, Rajan Mani, resigned recently in pursuit of professional progress, a new challenge emerged as he had previously been the signatory in many of our official documents. To the credit of our Corporate Finance Manager (who we call Tutu lovingly), managed this daunting task in an efficient manner, and we were able to get as many as twenty six resolutions for changes in the Board Meeting.

A few days back, Dhiraj came to me to get some papers signed, and asked for my passport sized photographs. As they were bank account papers, I looked at him questioningly. Reading my eyes, he explained that we had two accounts in Hyderabad and I was signatory in only one of them. My eyebrows raised at this with shock, as the only regional office we have in India is in Hyderabad and I was added as a signatory herein to all related accounts.

To my great surprise, Dhiraj understood all my misgivings without having to explain. Answering in a direct manner, he said that the accounts team in Alliance had assumed that I was already a signatory in all the field accounts. My temper rose here, as I get really disappointed when I see people being careless; I believe mistakes can be tolerated but not bad attitude as carelessness reflects attitude not capacity! I suggested that he make a list, and just as I was about to tell him off, he completed my statement by highlighting that he had already started the process of preparing a list of all regional accounts with the corresponding list of signatories for the same. He continued that he will make the same list for the three project offices. It was enriching for me to see that he was going beyond the requirement by including project offices. A little relieved but not at peace, I wanted to ensure that our work is done in an effective manner, so I was about to give further suggestions. Picking up on this, Dhiraj promptly added that he will be upgrading the list in an efficient manner, by making three lists; one would contain the names of people who should be on all of Alliance’s accounts, the second one will be the names of those who could also be there but with limited management control, and the third list comprising the names of those people who could be considered for options. He further underlined that these lists are important for us even though we have a smooth professional system. By now, I was very impressed with this quiet almost boyish accountant, and asked him to get back to me if people from the states do not respond immediately. Even here he showed his efficiency, by displaying his phone, in which he had started a Watsapp group of the concerned bank officials in the four states to cross check all information received from state offices and the internal finance team of Alliance India.

I was so astonished at this young man, not only was he in sync with Alliance India values, indeed he was creating them!

Happy with the zeal of Alliance India’s family, the author of this blog, Sonal Mehta, the Chief Executive of Alliance India, hopes to promote good practices in all our work and recognizes the extraordinary work done by all the members and partners of Alliance India.

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