Aniruddha Audits, Analyses And Manages Risks!

We continue our series on featuring people in our company who work hard behind the scenes, without many of us knowing how important their work is.  They are very important cogs in the wheels of the Thomas Cook Group, who ensure the smooth running of the company on many levels. We feel it is important to let people in our organization know who they are, so we can appreciate what they do.

So here we go.

When doing the interview, since I was not familiar with his exact function I asked him, what exactly his designation and function in the company was.  I was not prepared for the avalanche of tasks he and his team perform, manage and execute, and the tremendous responsibility that he carries on his shoulders!

I give you ANIRUDDHA CHAUDHURI, SVP-Business Process Improvement and Audit (BPIA).

  • He joined Thomas Cook India Ltd in January, 2017, as the Head of Business Process Improvement & Audit (BPIA) for the group – which is essentially a team responsible for handling Process improvements, Risk Management & also Audits. To simplify, his team ensures that risks that the entity faces, are identified early, reported, monitored and mitigated. This is done through early implementation of controls to address those specific risks. A very simple example would be: if a payment needs to be made, then the BPIA team would ensure there are appropriate controls in the form of two sets of eyes executing it – someone processes the payment, and another person who checks to ensure there are no mistakes.
  • The other aspect of his team’s responsibilities are managing audits – these could be internal audits, concurrent audits, internal financial control (IFC) audits, IT audits, etc. This requires interacting closely with businesses & senior management to ensure issues identified are addressed in a timely manner. This applies not just to Thomas Cook, SOTC & TCI, but also to the various Destination Management Companies (DMCs) that we have across the globe. The issues arising out of audits also need to be reported at the Audit Committee of the Board – so they have to make presentations to the Audit Committee about these observations and report about the mitigating actions implemented.
  • His team also advises businesses on process improvement opportunities & process changes, adherence to policies & procedures, fraud investigations, etc, apart from being the rapporteur at governance related meetings such as the biannual Risk Management Committees and the monthly Executive Risk Committees. Being the Data Protection Officer (DPO) for the group, Aniruddha is also responsible for ensuring adherence to regulatory requirements around data protection & security, and also vetting of various customer contracts on acceptability of data protection clauses.

Huge responsibilities indeed!

Education wise, Aniruddha is an Engineer and an MBA, and has had stints with multiple Indian and foreign banks in the past – all in the domain of risk management and audits. Although he hails from a family of doctors, he never really liked the profession.!

We threw a few random questions at Aniruddha, which he fielded with practiced ease. Here is what we got!

What are the most significant changes you have seen in the travel industry in recent times due to global conditions, and how have you and your team adapted to, and coped with, these changes?

I think we’re seeing a democratisation of travel like never before. People who were hitherto not much into travel are doing so, that too, independently, and therein lies a huge opportunity for us. The other trend has been a willingness to rediscover India, by us Indians.

The pandemic brought about massive changes in how risks are managed and controls are implemented and this is true globally, for all companies. Without the adoption of technology, things would have gone completely haywire. Automation has played a big part. But then again, technology is an interface, and we still need the human mind and co-operation for it to work, and in that sense I’m really happy to see how all our staff have managed to adapt.

Can you name some key challenges you face in Thomas Cook, and how you have dealt with them?

Challenges are there in every job, and improvements are always on-going. Like for any organization, as we’ve grown we’ve needed to put in structures and frameworks to make orderly transitions. We have seen a lot of focus on governance over the years, and I am grateful to our Executive Chairman Madhavan Menon for setting the tone from the top. We’ve also improved a lot in our adoption of technology, which has helped.

I also think there is a broad consensus within the organization that while growth is important, it is equally important to respect the controls, and for this also I’m indebted to Madhavan, Mahesh and Vishal for always sending the right message and standing by it. 

Are you a risk taker, or a micro-planner? 

Micro planning doesn’t work in my role as we’re dealing with adult individuals who have a mind of their own. It is important in that sense that while certain broad contours be drawn or rules laid out, people still have the freedom to work within them. Of course, going beyond the boundaries can have consequences as it impacts the organization adversely.

Which three words first come into your mind that best describe the company you represent?

Legacy, Ethics and Leadership

What is your vision for the organisation 5 years from now? 

I want the organization to become even more nimble and customer focused in the days to come. Being a repository of so much customer information acquired over the years across multiple business lines, we are in a great position to do that.

I’m also mindful, that being an old and reputed public limited company, we will always be judged against a higher standard by all our stakeholders. And therefore I want our staff to embrace this legacy as we move into the future.

Now a few fun questions …. lighter and more personal! 

Your family consists of my two boisterous kids and their exasperated parents. I have a son and a daughter, and we plan on adopting a pup soon!

If you had ONE word to describe yourself, what would it be?


If you could change ONE thing about yourself, would what it be?

Nothing really, my strengths and my flaws make me unique.

What is the one trait you deplore in yourself!

 Sometimes I can be a control freak, especially when it comes to my kids.

On your bedside table one would find… a book by Jim Corbett or Kenneth Anderson

 When you need comfort food, you reach out for… Tandoori chicken. It tells me all is well with the world!

 Four things you never travel without are … a partner, my phone, a comfortable pair of shoes, and a mind-set to expect the unexpected.

Your idea of an ideal holiday would be ….. one where I’m enjoying it as much as the rest of the family! Otherwise, we tend to worry too much about the ancillaries in an attempt to give the perfect experience to the family.

When you are not thinking of work, you chill out by… planning for the next vacation for I’m at heart, a wanderlust.  I love the outdoors – I’m always up for a long drive, a trek, or playing soccer, and my kids have picked it up from me. My love for wildlife, especially tigers, is well known, and I recently completed sighting and photographing my 50th tiger in the wild!

Your mantra for work-life balance would be …. wasting as little time as possible stuck in traffic, giving 100% to my work while I’m at it and spending the rest of the time with my family, or pursuing my hobbies. Thankfully, we have a great environment here to support it.