Career Center: Newly Self-Employed
Davis Kallukaran, CFE, FCA
Founder and Managing Partner
Horwath Mak Ghazali
Sultanate of Oman
Having founded Horwath Mak Ghazali, one of the top five auditing and business advisory firms in the Sultanate of Oman, Davis Kallukaran, CFE, FCA, has worked hard to command respect and receive recognition for his hard work. He says “everything depends upon how you package yourself, like any other product – it is personal branding that is crucial for the profession.” Kallukaran shares how being involved in professional organizations locally and internationally helps to develop his personal brand and adds credibility to his organization’s name.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in India, in the state of Kerala. I had my early education in my home town of Trissur.
How did you become involved with the ACFE?
In 1995, I founded the firm Ghazali Mak and Associates in the Sultanate of Oman in association with Mak and Associates from Dubai and Muna Al Ghazali, an Omani National. The firm evolved over the years, and since 2008 it has been a member-firm of Crowe Horwath, a top 10 global accounting network. Horwath Mak Ghazali was continuously engaged by the courts as expert auditors in various cases. These developments aroused my enthusiasm to look into the activities of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. I was awarded the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential in 2006. Due to the inadequate numbers of qualified CFEs in Oman our attempt to establish a chapter did not materialize until this year. The chapter was established on June 7, 2015, and I am proud to be one of the board members.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?
As the Managing Partner of Crowe Horwath Oman, I command respect among the business community, regulators and our peers. One of the most rewarding aspects of one’s career is recognition. I was first recognized in 2006 when I was awarded the CFE – it was a great feeling of achievement when I received the letter awarding the credential. I have also received the Pinnacle Award from Crowe Horwath. While presenting the award to me, the CEO of Crowe Horwath said:
“In the simplest of terms, this award is granted to individuals who donate their time and talent in extraordinary fashion to advance the cause of our international network. Time doesn’t permit us to recognize each individual that we consider and the good news is that we had several individuals who we felt worthy of consideration.”
If you speak from another angle, the whole recognition is due to the good work being done by our people. You can succeed only if you have the right people.
What are the best opportunities for someone entering into your career?
I should say that the sky is the limit for people entering into the accounting and auditing professions. Apart from the regular audit, tax and risk advisory services, forensic accounting, corporate finance, management consultancy practices and corporate governance are opening up a plethora of opportunities for professionals. Courts are very much dependent upon forensic professionals to provide expert opinions and accountants are required in every field of business.
What do you wish you had known (but didn’t) when you first contemplated founding the firm?
In my earlier days of practice I never understood the value of international associations. Prior to setting up the firm in Oman, I never ever imagined that a brand value can be strategically developed. A brand is not going to give you any mileage unless you create brand awareness in your local market. The same goes with your qualifications. A highly qualified person will not be effective unless he engages his qualifications effectively and thereby creates value. The local chapters have a great responsibility to create awareness about the contributions that CFEs can bring to any organization.
What advice do you have for those looking to become a CFE?
Excellent opportunities exist the world-over for forensic accounting experts. There is no other credential that will help you to realize your dream of becoming a fraud examiner. In the business world of cybercrime and white-collar crime, CFEs are the most sought after professionals.
Is there a memorable case or project that you have worked on? Feel free to alter details to protect confidential information.
In 1998, during the global recession, the local stock market crashed. The court appointed Horwath Mak Ghazali to look into allegations and counter allegations relating to one of the top brokering companies operating in the Sultanate. The main allegation was that the management had shifted the ownership of the crashing stocks held by the officers (very tactfully) to the company’s name. The allegations raised also included kickbacks received by promoting various projects. The report we submitted with these findings was well appreciated, and we were asked to witness at the court in order to inquire about the modus operandi during the hearing. The court found our report to be highly professional with specific conclusions.
Later on we understood that our findings were concurrent with the report submitted by the state audit institution. After this case we were entrusted with numerous investigations related to frauds involving manipulation and window-dressing of accounts in public companies.
When you are not working, what types of things do you enjoy doing?
When I am not working I like to spend time with my wife, Elizabeth, and our children. God willing, we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary next year. The three boys are all grown up now. I also like reading inspirational books and listening to Hindi Music.
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