A great journey

PR Loganathan

It was a hot summer afternoon in downtown Chicago 1981. I was on a study visit for 3 weeks, to American Oil Company [AMOCO] Chicago a major stakeholder in Madras Fertilizer Ltd to study the internal audit system in their Refineries. I preferred to stay near AMOCO itself in downtown Chicago and my company got me a room in Hotel Allerton a small hotel just a block away from AMOCO which is just two buildings away from the famous 133 storey Sears Tower then the tallest building in USA. After my study tour I was scheduled to proceed to Canada to participate in the IIA International Conference at Toronto.

One day morning, as I was handing over my room keys to the reception I saw a well built dark complexioned gentlemen, looked like an Indian, also handing over the room keys and going out. I said ‘Hai’ and he also responded ‘Hai’. [Being the first visit to USA I was warned to be cautious and not talk to strangers!!] The second day the same thing happened he also came to the Reception and we greeted each other. The third time, very curious to know who he was, I started the conversation with the usual opening sentence “Are you from India??” With a broad smile, he said, yes I am of Indian origin but I am a US Citizen. He asked me what brought me here and I explained who I was and why I am here. I said I am the Head of Internal Audit in MFL. I had a pleasant surprise when he said : My name is Rao Vallabhaneni and I am also Internal Auditor in AT&T the well know telecom company. I was all the more happy when he said “I am also going to Toronto to attend the IIA International Conference” At that point in time, I never knew how famous this man was in the profession, writing a lot of books and was a household name for all CISA students.

So this is how our relationship began and we became quite good friends talking to each other during the Conference. Suddenly he asked me a question “Do you have EDPAA in India” This five letter word was Greek and Latin to me and I asked him “What is this EDPAA” He said that EDPAA stands for Electronic Data Processing Auditors Association the international professional association of EDP Auditors all over the world. He said possibly there is no Chapter in India because there is not much of computers in India and everything is done manually. I said “No, We do have modern computers like punched card based IBM Mainframes and I explained about the Punched Card based computer TDC 316 from ECIL which we use in MFL” This made him more interested in India and he asked me “Why not you start a EDPAA Chapter in Madras and I will help you with all the start up formalities”

This personal relationship, blossomed into a professional relationship and as promised he sent me a bunch of papers containing the Formation Agreement and other formalities to be completed after we enroll a minimum of 10 persons to start the Chapter. At Madras, so eager to go ahead with this new idea, I was able to get together 10 leading professionals including Dr.Revathy Sriram, Mr MK Rajan, Mr A. Venugopal, Mr P C Anand, Mr R Lakshmi Ratan, Mr S A Murali Prasad [the other names I don’t recollect!!!]

I hosted the first meeting at Cosmopolitan Club and everyone was excited to sign the papers and quickly we sent the packet to Mr Rao Vallabhaneni. Later he came down to Chennai enroute to his hometown Guntur and was kind enough to conduct the first ever seminar on “EDP Auditing” at Park Sheration which had a record number of participants. At this point I also came to know he was the brother in law of Mr LV Prasad the famous film maker mostly Telugu films.

This seminar was indeed an Awareness Seminar on a subject most of us hardly knew about and an association EDPAA which nobody has ever heard of in India.

Of course the remaining formalities went through slowly but steadily and finally EDPAA Illinois approved the formation of a Madras Chapter, the first Chapter to be formed in India.

None of us ever imagined that this small EDPAA beginning will one day become a large ISACA professional association in India with Chapters all over India and thousands of students taking the CISA Examination and India being a world leader in the field of Information Technology. The credit goes entirely to the excellent leadership and successive Board of Directors who made this Chapter grow from strength to strength.