You are credited with bringing IDBI Intech back to life. How'd you get involved in this effort?
IDBI Intech was started in 2000, during the IT boom. IDBI was a development institution with many subsidiaries, and IDBI Intech was one of them. Then the downturn started, and IT was not doing so well. So we had some talent crunch at that time.
Around 2004, IDBI got the license to become a bank. Hence, IDBI decided to exit from IDBI Intech.
In 2004, IDBI decided to acquire IDBI Bank, the private-sector bank where I was working. IDBI Bank was a very technology-savvy bank with good people doing creative work. On the other hand, IDBI didn't require a strong technology platform by virtue of its business. When you become a commercial bank, you cannot survive without IT. So we were wondering how to motivate and take care of the team, since things were completely different at IDBI.
Since we already had IDBI Intech, we decided to revive it. It was in the process of getting closed, so we wrote to the government authorities and got the permission. It was decided that I should move to IDBI Intech. Now I act as the IT advisor for IDBI Bank, as well as head, IDBI Intech.
And how did IDBI Intech move from being IDBI Bank's IT team to a service provider for other organizations?
In 2006, we shifted the complete IT team from IDBI Bank to IDBI Intech. It was decided that we'll not have an IT outfit within the bank to avoid conflict of interest.Initially, Intech was treated as just an extension of IDBI Bank. Then we realized that there's a lot of unexploited potential, so we started providing services to group companies. We started with IDBI Capital, IDBI Fortis and IDBI Gilts.
Since we were doing a good job with the group companies, our board suggested that we start providing services to external companies. So we started giving services to BFSI [banking, financial services and insurance] clients. Today we have more than 19 external clients and almost 500 employees, as well as international clients in Kenya and Oman.
How was the change for you personally?
Shifting to a company as the MD and CEO was a major challenge, since I was expected to do much more. It's very easy to be on the other side of the table, where you only have to execute the project. As a CIO, you should be good at project management and understand the business, but you don't have to seek business. Besides, you get very comfortable when you only have to interact with vendors and so on.
Suddenly, it's all about business strategies, how to run the company, make it profitable, manage the attrition of an entire company rather than just a department and so on. It was an experience where I had to change from a technology person to a manager. So this major shift was initially extremely difficult.
Also, it's easier to start a new company than to revive an existing one. There were many compliance requirements, and several other aspects which were new to me. So it was a fulfilling experience to move the company from, as they say, red to black. We have been a profit-making company for the past three years.
What would you put as the biggest challenges that you faced?
It's tough to build the confidence of people. First is that of your own employees, since you are trying to revive something which did not succeed earlier. It's also difficult to change from a department's mind-set to that of to a service provider.
Gaining confidence of other stakeholders was the second challenge. That's why I say that it's easier to start a new company than to revive one. The moment you are a separate company, expectations increase and service levels to parent organizations need to be very high. So the stakeholder's interest was a crucial aspect that we had to deal with.
2005-06 was a good year for IT, with people getting fat salaries and many offers. So it was difficult to source talent, especially since we were undergoing this transition.
The last challenge was to convince external entities that we can provide services in a bank-neutral manner. It was essential to demonstrate that we have the expertise, so please don't treat us like IDBI Bank's IT outfit.
Getting the first client was a challenge. Our first major client was the Centurion Bank of Punjab. It was a grand success. We haven't looked back since.
Sanjay Sharma, the managing director and CEO of IDBI Intech Ltd., has been credited with the venture's turnaround into a profit-making organization. The erstwhile CIO of IDBI Bank shares his career's evolution path.
Where did the idea of compliance officers come from?
The industry that developed compliance officers first was the defense industry. Back in the mid-1980s, a whole bunch of defense contractors got into trouble. There was fraud, waste and abuse in the news, and President Reagan, in order to stem the tide, asked Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard to form a commission. The Packard Commission recommended that clean up its own house.
I remember those overpriced toilet seats.
A funny aside, we had a vice president at United Technologies Corp., who was the first director of the office of federal procurement policy, but then went to work for us. He was asked to testify because of his prior position. They asked him what he thought about the $8,000 toilet seat, and his comment was, 'I don't want to take a position on that.' That's the only comment that made it into the news. A whole bunch of CEOs got together after that and they developed what they called DII, the Defense Industry Initiatives, to write codes of ethics and develop programs. The outgrowth of that was having compliance officers to be responsible for developing those programs.
What's your view on the expense of compliance?
I would like to split out SOX [Sarbanes-Oxley Act] from general compliance. Prior to SOX, compliance programs consisted of things that were more than financial issues. Now along comes SOX, and what SOX says is your financials needs to be documented. How you handle your books and records needs to be documented. Some people might have said, 'Gee, weren't they documented before?' To a large extent they were, but over time some of those procedures changed, and the documentation wasn't changed. What became expensive was the interpretation of SOX, the testing, the requirement of having another set of auditors besides your independent auditors. So everybody is trying to do this thing completely right, and because this is a first-time effort, even companies that might have thought they were compliant prior to SOX, they are spending the money to make sure they are compliant.
There's a code of ethics that is kind of built into the military, where you worked previously, but there doesn't seem to be anything quite like that in the business world.
You're absolutely right.
The former CEO and other senior executives have been indicted on fraud charges. [CEO Sanjay Kumar and CA's former head of worldwide sales, Stephen Richards, have pleaded not guilty. Others have pleaded guilty to charges of securities fraud or obstruction of justice.] Do you think punishment is the only way to prevent misdeeds in business?
Wow. There are two answers. I don't know what else you can do with respect to misdeeds other than to punish. But I do know that if boards of directors and shareholders are not savvy to the fact that if there are individuals who have done the wrong thing, and the boards and shareholders haven't done the proper background checks in hiring those people later on, that is a huge mistake on the part of corporations -- to allow someone who has been punished for misdeeds, and then putting them back in the driver's seat should be a real negative in the business world.
Do you have to spend a lot of time reining in the tendency in people to win? Business is extremely competitive, and the desire to win at any cost, I think is pretty strong among very successful people.
No question about that. The desire to win is an important ingredient in business, and you really don't want to impede that desire to win. What you want to make sure is that everybody understands that the desire has to be measured with doing it the right way. I have to tell you that one of the things I talk to ethics officers about all the time is that you can sit there constantly and say no, no, no, you can't do this and you can't do that, and that may be one way to do your job. A better way to go about your job is to work with business and say, what is it that you're trying to accomplish and let's find the right way to do it.
Your job is not really to be a preacher, I guess.
If I end up being a preacher, I'm dead. People don't want to be lectured to. Most people feel they have good values to begin with. What they need is some guidance in solutions that are good, positive and workable and still help them meet their goals. I use an example with sales all the time. I say, if you come to me and say, 'I want to bribe, is that OK?' the answer is no, it's not OK. But that's really not the question you wanted to ask me. You want to tell me what your problem is and we want to find a solution.
Can you give me an example of a gray area where you have to come in and mediate?
Sure. You're out negotiating sales maybe in a foreign location. Someone comes to you -- a potential customer -- and says, 'I would really like to come visit your facility to see how your operation works.' This may not be a Computer Associates problem because we don't do a lot of manufacturing, but a lot of companies do. So, the answer is, of course, but the potential customer wants you to pay for it and the question is, 'Can we do that?' The answer in most instances is absolutely. But the gray area comes in when you ask how much entertaining you can do while you are there -- and are there any stop-offs, like to Orlando or to Las Vegas? Is there walking around money? Taking them out to dinner while they are there is certainly acceptable. Where you start to get uncomfortable is going beyond that and taking side trips, shopping trips.
We talked a little bit about SOX. Is SOX is a good thing?
Absolutely. I actually wrote a paper saying be happy for Sarbanes-Oxley. There are some unintended consequences of Sarbanes-Oxley that make my life and everybody else's difficult, and one of them is the huge cost associated with it. But how do you argue a provision in the law that says you must document your controls? How can you argue against a provision that says you need to have a mechanism where your employees can bring accounting irregularities up through the system and the board and the suit committee can act on it? I think most people will tell you that the law itself is a very proper one
Is there anything that CIOs should know about chief compliance officers?
The message I would want chief information officers to be aware of is that compliance officers and chief information officers should be working hand in glove. Some of the best controls that I am aware of are controls that are developed between the compliance organization and the chief information officer's organization. The more we can automate controls, the more we can take the human element out of it, the more reliance our employees and shareholders can have on the system. The chief compliance officer and the chief information officer should be married at the hip.
Patrick Gnazzo was appointed senior vice president of business practices and chief compliance officer (CCO) at Computer Associates International Inc. in January. A former chief trial lawyer for the U.S. Department of the Navy and a United Technologies Corp. CCO for 10 years, Gnazzo came to CA as part of a deal with the federal government in which the company agreed to pay $225 million in restitution to shareholders and improve its compliance and ethics practices. Gnazzo has until Dec. 31 to get a program up and running. A frequent lecturer on ethics and compliance, he spoke with SearchCIO.com about what compliance officers do and why.
Who do you report to?
The COO [chief operating officer]. We don't have a dedicated CIO role right now; our CTO is largely performing that function. However, my boss is a former CIO. The CTO and I report to the COO.
What percentage of your job is spent working on compliance regulations?
In 2004, I spent approximately 40% of my time on compliance. Things really fired up in 2004. When I came on board, compliance activities had been building for at least the last 12 months. I was originally hired NOT to do compliance directly. I was to handle the security aspects of compliance only. Then last fall, my boss asked for me to become corporate compliance officer, in addition to my role as CSO. So now I'm involved with other compliance issues. There was no single, executive-level focal point before I took it over. Prior to that, each business unit would identify their issues and address compliance at their own levels.
Do you have any other staff dedicated to compliance?
I have one full-time coordinator and two part-time coordinators working on compliance. We also involve the appropriate business people. The full-time coordinator is a temporary position, ending later this year (2005). Then we'll be relying upon the part-time positions to provide program coordination and help the individual contributors when they have problems. The full-time temporary person was needed initially to get the program on its feet.
What compliance regulations have you had to comply with in the past year? Which were the most challenging?
In 2004, our emphasis was on two areas. First with Visa. Visa has a cardholder information security program. We had to demonstrate compliance with that. Most people might not consider Visa compliance as a big deal compared with SOX [Sarbanes-Oxley] or GLBA [Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act] -- but it was important to our organization. There were real consequences if we didn't meet their test -- they could revoke our right to process Visa transactions. Visa has to approve anyone that wants to process transactions. This security program is a big strategic initiative for them. It also includes a lot of risk for us -- considering we could lose a huge revenue stream.
The other big regulation challenge in 2004 was getting our SAS 70 Type 2 compliance report. We needed to get this report for our customers -- all financial institutions. SAS 70 is a third-party attestation, a common instrument used when two parties work closely together and they want to make sure the other is doing what they're contractually obligated to do. When a bank outsources work to a vendor, examining the SAS 70 report is typically part of the financial institution's risk management program. The banks will look for certain controls in the vendor's organization.
It's an annual event for us; 2004 was our first one. Industry-wide, the increased emphasis on SAS 70, which has been around for quite some time now, has developed as a direct result of increased regulatory pressure on financial institutions. Financial institutions need to demonstrate good risk management practices when they are working with particular vendors or service providers. It's a reality for any financial institution because almost all of them outsource some aspect of their IT or tech operations, thus placing customer date at risk.
Banks in the past have tended to implicitly outsource risk management along with the systems. Regulators are now demanding that financial institutions prove they are actively conducting risk management on any technology outsourcing contracts. One thing we try to do is recognize what the burden is on the customer. From the auditors -- we try to deliver our services in a way that they meet that burden of proof. We see a lot of the compliance work we do on behalf of our customers as a way to differentiate ourselves in the market.
Issues have come up, but nothing I consider to be serious. One example is we had some faulty maintenance performed on an exterior door to our building. When the auditor was checking our physical perimeter, they found the door didn't close completely all the time. Even though that door provided no direct access to a protected area, the incident was noted in the report and we did a follow-up with the maintenance group to explain how important this issue was.
Some of our time and effort working with external auditors is spent working with auditors to help them interpret the regulations for our specific context. These regulations are very complex themselves. Issues brought up by the auditors are often matters of interpretation. We sometimes have to point out to the auditors that there isn't an issue and why -- typically because we have a different control or other compensating controls. But in the end, if the auditor is insistent, we will usually accept the issue and make the necessary changes for the customers. However, there have never been any real show stoppers.
Facebook and Twitter. Security and compliance risks abound. How can the CIO avoid social media notoriety?