He has over 28 years of providing Audit, Advisory and Tax expertise to a wide range of KPMG’s clients in Qatar. With a speciality in the oil and gas industry, he led KPMG MESA’s Oil and Gas practice from 2012 to 2019 and regularly attends as well as speaks at KPMG’s global energy conference and various other industry events. A C.A. by qualification, Gopal has led audits for some of the region’s clients across numerous other industries including Telecom, Building & Construction, Real Estate, Hospitality, Food, Retail and Financial Services. He is an ardent cricket lover who plays the sport regularly and travels around the world with his team ‘Desi Army’ to watch World Cup cricket tournaments for the last 12 years.
Q: What does wealth mean to you? What’s your mantra for wealth and success?
GB: I'm not going to re-invent the wheel in terms of wealth because I always believe that health is wealth. First, you need a good balance between the mind and body and I’m not just talking about physique. From head to toe, you need to be functioning well. As we know, right now, without a good, healthy life, nothing is successful. But again, wealth today also means the health of your surroundings - like a good family life, good friends, good social connections. Of course, wealth is also materialistic.
But having positivity around always, that is wealth for me. I am a rather strong believer of destiny as well as ‘what you give, comes back to you.’ Materialistic wealth is a by-product or subjective to what you give. In terms of your efforts towards an organization - how do you work? How do you get along with the team? These things are wealth for me. Aside from this, success - again it's a big word. It's not just about succeeding in having ‘x’ amount of bank balance. Earning a name as a good human being is the first step to success and I know it doesn't come easily. Keep doing good things and always try to be of help. Give it your best. Whether you succeed or not… there should not be any dearth of effort. These things get ingrained in your DNA and once they do, wealth and success fall in line automatically. It will all come to you, once you have good education, attitude and a good heart towards the success of your organization. Everything will follow automatically. That's my mantra for wealth and success.
Q: What is it that drives you in terms of satisfaction?
GB: Having been in this country for so long, sheer longevity has helped me attain the goodwill to ask for help. I can be ruthless in asking for favors. As long as I know that it's not for me, it's for somebody else, I don't mind using my influence. Not in an entitled way, but to help another. Even if the answer is no, there's no harm in trying. It is important to keep connecting the dots. That is the mantra for co-existence, which I believe in strongly. Live and let live. I know I have been blessed with opportunities to seek help from people across various walks of life. I've been able to recruit and train professionals in this country as well as various client and KPMG offices across regions - at least 350 people in the last 28 years of my career. I would say the most memorable part of my career was contributing to the better future of so many people in their formative years, between the ages of 23 to 28. I’ve been fortunate enough to help shape their career and life, and that is what I consider as my biggest achievement.
Q: So, essentially wealth is about using your circle of influence and giving people opportunities. Would you agree?
Q: Which of the following resonate with you?
1. Wealth gives me independence
2. Wealth gives me recognition and power
3. Wealth gives me the ability to influence and create impact
4. Wealth gives me the ability to realize my material aspirations
GB: Wealth does not always give you these things because there are other attributes in life that can contribute to these parameters more than wealth can. Somebody who earns a ton of money cannot always be influential. Influence doesn’t always come with money. It comes with behavior. I think it is very important that one’s behavioral pattern contributes to one’s ability to influence. I personally believe that wealth in and of itself doesn't make for the holistic development of an individual. More so, it is about, “Who are you? What's your behavioral pattern? How do you change people? How do you react to different situations?” These are some of the qualitative factors which contribute to someone’s ability to influence - the same way recognition and power do. Often, we don't get recognized for who we are, we get to be known for how we contributed to an organization. How we were able to contribute to society, how we contributed to the lives of our family and friends. This, I feel adds more to recognition than wealth. I may be wrong but I’m just expressing myself based on my personal experiences that have given me happiness and power.
Q: What prompted you to adopt this path? What were those instances? Did one success lead to another?
GB: I'm from a lower middle-class family in Chennai with 4 siblings. My father was an assistant in LIC, and my mother was a teacher in a government school. They worked hard to bring us up. In those formative years, there were various instances where, as a child you craved for certain things but couldn’t get them because your economic background didn't allow you to. In a way those cravings were good. It made me think – “Why can't I achieve that?” My parents’ economic parameters were such that they tried giving the best they could. However, later, you kind of need to know and step up the game.
You must make sure that you know how to fulfil those cravings as you go along and give back to your children. Whatever I’ve missed in life, I want to give to my children, siblings or close friends. But you must make sure that you know the cravings. That's one thing probably, that helped put me in a kind of direction where I needed to believe in co-existence and breathe co-existence, day in and day out.
Q: How challenging is it to imbibe the importance of a materially or socially conscious environment in today’s generation?
GB: I think that there should be a relationship from both fronts. You've got to accept that you are living in a different era. You can’t keep saying that what you did back then is the best, it won’t help you survive now. You need to have the flexibility of living in a different era where the world looks different. A young boy within his palm, has the entire world. My son, the way he surfs Google, blows my mind because I have no idea how he moves from one page to another - entire worlds in his palm. But they are no longer the same worlds, so we need to adapt but at the same time, we must inculcate value systems, consistently. When it comes to the organization as well, it's not just about greeting people. You must gauge, “How do we behave in a group? What are the organization's objectives? How do we place ourselves in the world vis-à-vis the organization?” These are all values that we inculcate among each other.
Anyone who has seen me stay 34 years in the organization, thinks I am an antique piece because I come from a different world altogether. Now, even if you spend 3-4 years in the same place it is an achievement. But even in those 3-4 years how you contribute is paramount. You must learn the best from others and keep moving. Understand that nothing replaces hard work. Once or twice, luck might be enough but that is not a recipe forsustainable success.
Q: Which of these do you resonate with the most?
“Rejection of the status quo is good”
“Difficult to accept the easy way is good”
“Sacrificing short-term thinking for the long-term is good”
“Hunger to never stop innovating is good”
GB: Statement number 4... hunger to never stop innovating. In an era where we must continuously evolve, innovation is non-negotiable. Today, in every sphere of life, you have to think of ways to innovate. Even a small roadside shop vendor must innovate how he sells his product. For me, innovation is key. It’s the password for your entire personal life, for e.g., “How do you bring up your children?” There are certain times you fail and then you change tactics. That is also innovation. It is about having different strategies and not traversing the beaten track. Having the flexibility to move around, that's an innovation as well. It is a broad terminology that is crucial to developing life skills. You have to have flexibility and adaptability within your system.
Q: How do you think wealth impacts society? Positively? Negatively? How do you think it ought to impact? What would be your advice to the young people who want to generate wealth?
GB: Everything in our world has a positive and negative side. So does wealth. However, what is important is to teach the mantra of co-existence early on in life. This world doesn’t belong to you alone. You share it with others - society, animals, plants.This thought of sustainability should be intrinsic to your value system from the beginning. That’s why you start looking at things differently from the start. Self-centered behavior should be broken down before you finish University, or even school. You need to broaden your perspective - it's not just, “Me or my family.” Break these thought and behavior patterns. Look around and you will realize that life is completely different. Life is complete. I think that is something young minds need to be aware of. Yes, it isn’t easy, but keep at it long enough, and it will become ingrained. It can’t be said enough how important it is to break the self-centered spectrum in life and see the world at large. That is how wealth will contribute more positively.