Do you sometimes look back and think about the moments that have shaped your journey so far? Can you pinpoint the forks in the road, the conversations, and events that made you who you are today?
One such moment for me is when I decided, as a junior audit trainee in 2015, to take the Office Managing Partner up on an offer she extended to the whole office. She said to reach out to her if we needed to talk. She had been recently appointed, had an open and inclusive leadership style, and was a bold advocate for the empowerment of women and people of colour.
When I took her up on the offer, I was going through a tough time. She always made time, listened, and shared her own experience on overcoming challenges.
This was a turning point for me: her support not only empowered me to take control of my narrative, but also inspired me to take the initiative to do the same for others. I decided to establish a forum with a few friends of mine in my hometown, which connected young professionals and entrepreneurs and allowed us to exchange ideas on how we could be impactful in our spheres of work in a meaningful way that solves problems (unfortunately it didn’t survive as long as I hoped it would).
In 2016, when the Audit Business Unit Leader wanted to sponsor Deloitte Future Leaders (DFL), an initiative focussed on nurturing the capabilities to build strong future leaders in our trainee body, I took the initiative to lead it. I was particularly eager to understand how fellow trainees perceived the evolving landscape we operate in, and how they saw it shape the future of companies, our profession, and their own careers and lives.
DFL created a platform for business leaders/partners to tap into trainees’ ideas and interests – be it artificial intelligence, macroeconomics, or social issues – but also created a platform for trainees to have their own voice and share their views confidently. It sparked a conversation between the current leaders and future leaders on matters that were important to understand and critically think about in our changing world.
Leading DFL meant taking an undefined role and making it my own whilst also working towards something I believed our business needed. The insights I gained through the forum made me realise that we needed to apply a different lens to the traditional audit. This, in turn, led me to develop the Integrated Risk Sensing Model (ISRM) and leading Audit Risk Sensing for the Deloitte Africa Audit and Assurance business. A global version of this model has subsequently been deployed across various Deloitte member firms across the global network and has allowed me to collaborate with colleagues from different regions across the world in making impactful change.
I have been on an incredible journey over the last few years. And I can trace it back to that conversation. I can see how the sponsorship and trust of my leaders have steered my course and given me the confidence to empower others in the process. I have no doubt that many trainees who benefitted from DFL will also choose to make a lasting impact on the people around them as their careers advance – setting in motion their own ‘butterfly effect’ of positive change.