EY Faculty Connection - Issue 39

Get to know the people of EY

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Shiva Goundar, Senior Manager, Advisory

Shiva Goundar, Senior Manager in our Advisory practice, builds strong relationships with clients, team members and across service lines.

The facts:
Shiva’s been with the firm for 16 years and is based in our Manhattan office in Times Square.

The personal stuff:
Born and bred in Sydney, Australia, Shiva is a passionate traveler with an adventurous palate and a taste for bold flavors (well, we think eating snakes and lizards in Asia qualifies as “bold”). When he’s not traveling, he enjoys volunteering his time working with mentally and physically disabled adults when he visits Australia each year, watching and playing sports and listening to rock music. Yes, definitely bold!

The professional stuff:

Why did you choose to work at EY?
At EY, the interview process was very individual and personalized. They singled people out to the point where it didn’t actually feel so much like an interview process as it did a conversation in an open space, moving around and meeting people rather than talking one-on-one in a traditional environment.

Clearly, the culture was a big reason – I was exposed to it in a very authentic way and got to interact with many people during the interview process. It really gave me a realistic perspective of what life would be like at EY. I felt comfortable in the culture, met great people and simply felt very much at home.  

Describe your career path through EY. What notable opportunities have you had (special projects, travel, etc.) that have contributed to your professional growth and development?
After completing my undergraduate degree in Business (Accounting/Finance), I started with the firm in the IT Audit practice (who does that?). I was always fascinated by IT and was not afraid to seek opportunities in this area of EY. But I also knew the importance of Accounting/Finance and I had a desire to become certified as a Chartered Accountant. 

So I asked to take on a few clients in the Audit/Assurance space as well. I always resisted the urge to specialize in one area so that I could shape myself into more of a broader business professional, aware of the broader organization and context for the services the firm delivers to clients. I came out of college with the certainty that I could leverage my tech experience more effectively if I knew how the various practices work.

I was fortunate to attend a college that focused about 40% theory and the rest on practical experience with actual companies like IBM and Colgate-Palmolive. I had the opportunity to put the theories I was learning to work by interviewing people at these companies and bringing back tactical challenges, as well as ideas for resolving them. 

Once I joined Ernst & Young, I worked in the Australian practice for seven years, and in the last two, was asked to lead the IT Audit and Financial Audit teams on the largest client in the Sydney office. I worked with a lot of partners and was able to build a lot of relationships because I became a known commodity and got exposure outside my group.  

I had the opportunity to work on some fantastic engagements as well, including reviewing the gaming practices at a number of Australia’s largest casinos and breaking into a business to copy hard drive information and papers as part of our forensic investigation unit (and yes, this was legal).  But working with the ticketing group for almost four years at the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) was truly a highlight of my time in Sydney. 

I truly had an opportunity to engage in various experiences that broadened my skills, as well as the occasional opportunity to travel overseas. 

When I came to the US, I focused again primarily on IT Audit, but branched out with internal Audit and security. I had the opportunity to contribute to firm-wide teams that addressed broader business challenges like the adoption of the International Finance Reporting Standards (IFRS) and, thanks to my broader business approach, was able to address not only the financial implications but also how clients could change their systems and technology to be able to adopt them.

Tell us a bit about your role and the work that you and your team do for the firm, as well as how you interact with clients. And while you’re at it, what kind of clients do you work with?
Our firm basically has two types of models. The first is the traditional model. In this model, you interact with clients based on your solution or your “fastball,” the specialist solution that you do best and know inside and out. Depending on your fastball, you work with organizations based on the need for your key solution.

Thanks to a pivotal conversation with a mentor, I decided I didn’t want to focus on selling a particular “fastball” to a number of different companies.  The traditional model makes it difficult to continue to maintain that relationship and leverage the knowledge about their business when you’re done implementing the solution, and that’s just not me.

I have a strong passion for working with people and it’s important to me to build relationships and work with our clients on the journey of protecting and growing their business. 

Today, I prefer to focus on specific accounts, engaging with clients from both a business and a risk perspective – goals, barriers, what’s not working right now. When I sit down and ask those questions, I can use my experience as a risk professional to understand what’s not working for clients that affects their ability to drive revenue, reduce costs, and provide greater value to stockholders.

As I go through different stakeholders in the client organization, I can leverage my varied background to talk about the accounting implications of what I learn. I can sit down with the IT organization and understand their perspective so that I can translate what I hear on the business side into how it affects IT and vice versa.

I work primarily with Life Sciences clients, which are split fairly evenly between pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. I also work with technology and consumer products clients.

What aspects of your work do you find most interesting? Most challenging? Most rewarding?
My number one answer is working with the people here – both at EY and my clients. These are passionate, innovative folks, and I am fortunate to have built strong relationships with them both personally and professionally. We catch the occasional football game, talk about family – it’s really gratifying. I also enjoy the incredible flexibility that the firm offers.

The firm supports managers’ ability to look after people and gives us the freedom to address client needs while enabling flexibility for our people. As far as challenges, I will say that this business does sometimes require long hours, though it’s not the norm.

But it’s actually during those stressful times that I’ve learned the most. I push myself to innovate and adapt so that I can get through the situation and get the job done. When you embed the skills that you learn during tougher times into your everyday approach, then you will always have a natural tendency to learn and innovate. 

Tell us about some of your best lessons learned at EY.
The best lesson I’ve learned is the value of mentoring, but closely aligned with that is the concept of stewardship. Many people here have been active mentors, providing the advice I needed to get to where I am today.

I take a lot of pride in paying that forward – being personally invested in others’ careers when it comes to coaching and counseling.