Devrani Moonsamy looks forward to being the first head of finance of brand-new state entity, the Ombud Council, as part of her continuous journey of personal and career development and growth.
After seven years at the Competition Tribunal of South Africa, head of finance Devrani Moonsamy has been enthusiastic to take on a new challenge, but has been waiting for the right one. Starting November 2023, however, she embarks on a challenge like none other she has faced before; helping to start up a brand-new state entity, the Ombud Council.
The Ombud Council, which was listed in April this year, was established through the Financial Sector Regulation (FSR) Act (2017), Chapter 14. Its objective is to assist financial customers with access to affordable, effective, independent and fair dispute resolution when they have complaints about financial institutions.
As its new head of finance (aka CFO), Devrani is tasked with taking the company’s existing strategy and putting in place structures and systems that will help it deliver on this strategy.
“It’s really exciting because, unlike previous roles, I get to start from a blank slate,” she says.
“With the three public entities I’ve previously been employed at, I would assess existing systems and controls, then correct them. With the Ombud Council, I am able to use my experience and knowledge to implement systems and controls that would work most effectively without having to endure the change-over process.”
Devrani explains that whatever she has learned over the years will be her starting point to create systems that will work best for the Ombud Council.
Ensuring clean audits
Devrani started her career at the Auditor-General of South Africa, where she completed her articles and stayed on for two more years auditing public entities and departments.
“Year-on-year, I would report on the same recurring audit findings for clients. This inspired me to hop over to the public sector with the ambition to reduce audit findings and drive public entities towards clean audit opinions,” she says.
Proactive as she is, Devrani applied for a finance management consultant vacancy to fill the role of the CFO at a client, Boxing South Africa, and in 2011 she got the job. “I was able to significantly reduce the recurring audit findings and move the entity from a qualified to a clean audit opinion.”
In August 2013, Devrani’s ambitions took her to the Competition Commission of South Africa, and in October 2016 she joined the Competition Tribunal.
“When I first joined the Competition Tribunal, they hadn’t been receiving clean audit opinions in prior years because of irregular expenditure,” she says. “Because of my external audit background, I knew exactly the procurement processes to implement to eliminate irregular expenditure and have achieved clean audits in all seven years that I have been employed at the tribunal.”
One of Devrani’s key achievements at the tribunal was automating all the systems and making the processes completely paperless. “When Covid-19 happened, we had to automate all of our systems so that we could work from home. The biggest highlight for me was how quickly we were able to achieve a completely paperless work environment, which we maintain today,” she explains.
Becoming a great leader
Devrani strongly believes in continuous growth and development, especially at the speed the world is moving. This year, she has also been selected as one of the 960 women who are part of the FASSET Women’s Legacy Programme.
The programme was created by the International Women’s Forum of South Africa (IWFSA), the Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority (FASSET) and Duke University’s Duke Corporate Education, to empower and develop women in South Africa into great leaders.
“I am passionate about driving the agenda of improving and enhancing the growth of women leaders in South Africa, so I was ecstatic when my bursary application was successful!” she says.
“I started the executive development programme with Duke University in April this year, and have been thoroughly enjoying the series of modules, intersessions, group coaching, mentoring and research projects aimed at addressing challenges experienced by women in management and leadership roles.”
Devrani explains that the programme has had a great impact on her personal and career development so far, and she looks forward to the upcoming global immersion in Singapore.
Working with a purpose
As is evident throughout her career, Devrani believes that her purpose in life and towards society is to improve the quality of financial management and reporting in the public sector. This means continuing to drive clean audits, as it contributes to building public confidence that government funds are being managed and spent in the most effective and efficient manner.
She also hopes to spend more time participating on audit committees and boards in the future. “This will further contribute towards my purpose of improving the quality of public sector financial management and reporting and driving clean audit opinions.”