Alumnus Profile: Gregory Paulse

Posted on May 25, 2023

University of Pretoria (UP) alumnus and Group Manager of Internal Audit at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Gregory Paulse, has been practising as an internal auditor for more than two decades in both private and public sector. He has occupied various roles, including that of Chief Audit Executive (CAE) – an apex position in the auditing field. He finds his chosen path fulfilling, as he gets to be part of the problem-solving efforts that improve operational efficiency and effectiveness. One of his long-term goals is “to make a meaningful contribution to the reform of governance in the public sector in South Africa, which will hopefully assist in an improvement in the achievement of clean audits and the alleviation of corruption”, says Paulse, a UP MPhil Internal Auditing graduate.

Read more about his career, how he overcame his life challenges and his aspirations for Africa below.

Q: Please share the details of your studies, mentioning the qualification/s you completed at UP, what motivated you during your studies, and how you overcame any challenges you encountered.

A: I have a BCom (Accounting) degree. I am also a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). I hold an MPhil (Internal Auditing) degree from UP, where I’m currently also enrolled for a PhD in Auditing.

My academic achievement did not come without challenges. After matric, I was forced to take a gap year as I was not able to go to university due to lack of finances. After securing registration fees a year later, I still needed funds for tuition fees. Fortunately, during my first month at the University, I managed to secure an academic merit bursary coupled with a student loan from the University, and later a fully funded bursary, which covered all expenses relating to my studies. This was the most defining moment for me, as it changed my entire trajectory in life.

I started working immediately after completing my bachelor’s degree. My other qualifications were completed through part-time studies – which presented its own set of challenges, being employed full time, married and running a family. However, with the support of my wife, family, and employers, I managed complete these in record time.

Q: Briefly summarise your professional career, including your highlights/milestones and current position.

A: I am an internal auditor (IA) by profession and have been practicing it for the past 25 years. Internal auditing is now engrained in my DNA. I have worked in both the public and private sectors, where I occupied different positions throughout my career, from being an internal auditor up to being the Chief Audit Executive (CAE) of an organisation. Being a CAE is the highest position in the career path of an internal auditor within the internal audit profession. I’ve been entrusted as a CAE for more than a decade and am currently occupying a similar position. This has been the highlight of my career thus far.  I am currently employed as Group Manager: Internal Audit at the CSIR.

Q: To what extent did your studies at UP benefit you in your career and contribute to your success?

A: My MPhil Internal Auditing studies at UP have been extremely advantageous to my career in terms of the knowledge gained, critical thinking abilities developed, and professional networks formed. It not only increased my theoretical knowledge of internal auditing, but it also boosted my business knowledge acquired from several course modules facilitated by the Gordon Institute for Business Studies. After completing the MPhil programme, it altered my outlook and approach to audits, and I managed to secure a top post at one of the country's most prestigious research organisations.

Q: Can you single out a special mentor/trusted advisor who played an indispensable role in your life/studies/career?

A: This will undoubtedly be my wife, who has been my most ardent supporter and source of motivation throughout my professional life. She has been a tremendous source of support for me and has never abandoned me in times when I've been confronted with hurdles or difficulties. She had faith in my capabilities, and she supported and encouraged me to work towards reaching my goals.

Q: Given your academic experience at UP, what advice can you pass on to current students?

A: I would advise them to utilise the resources and support structures on campus and to develop professional contacts by networking with fellow students. Most importantly – hard work and perseverance is paramount for success, but also the need to take care of their physical and emotional wellness to achieve peak performance.  Effective time management is also important – they need to strike a balance between their academics and private life.

Q: What really inspires and motivates you personally?

A: I am motivated by the feeling of accomplishment that comes with meeting deadlines, targets, goals and successfully completing challenging tasks. As a mentor and leader, I also get great gratification from helping people to achieve their goals, and leading teams to victory. I am a knowledge seeker and have seen the benefits of acquiring new knowledge for my professional advancement. This has motivated my life-long learning in a field that allows me to put my mind and inventiveness to use and contribute to the improvement or creation of anything existing or brand-new.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the foundation of a successful career?

A: I believe that a combination of factors, including hard work, dedication, continuous learning, adaptability, and networking, form the basis of a successful career. It is essential to have a clear vision of your objectives and to develop a strategy for achieving them. Developing strong relationships with colleagues and mentors can also be beneficial for career advancement.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about your chosen career path?

A: My passion for governance, risk, and internal controls has made my career extremely rewarding. As an IA, I acquire invaluable insight into the organisation's governance, risk, and control systems, enabling me to advise management on improvement areas and contribute to the organisation's overall objectives. It is especially gratifying when my suggestions are accepted and implemented, resulting in a better control environment. Being an internal auditor grants you the opportunity to positively impact your organisation by assisting with overcoming challenges and contributing to problem-solving efforts that improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Q: Which business/trade-related or career-related publications (magazines/newspapers/blogs, etc.) do you enjoy reading?

A: To remain abreast of developments in the internal and IT audit profession, I enjoy reading the internal auditor magazine published by the Institute of Internal Auditors and the ISACA Journal published by ISACA.

Q: If you could have a face-to-face meeting with an inspiring person – in any domain – who sets an example in transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same, who would it be and what would you like to discuss?

A: That would be former USA president Barack Obama, who is widely regarded as a transformational leader who brought about significant change during his time as president of the United States. He is an inspirational figure, with his eloquent speeches and powerful rhetoric inspiring millions around the world. Mr Obama's leadership was characterised by his charisma and his ability to inspire people to work together towards a common goal, as well as his commitment to promoting equality, justice, and opportunity for all. If I were to meet him, I would discuss topics on leadership and vision, social justice, his resilience and how he overcame challenges in his lifetime.

Q: What are your professional/business/personal aspirations?

A: Within the next few years, I would like to complete my doctoral degree in auditing.  At a later stage in my career, I would also like to embark on a new journey in the academic sphere. One of my goals is to make a meaningful contribution to the reform of governance in the public sector in South Africa, which will hopefully assist in an improvement in the achievement of clean audits and the alleviation of corruption. I also aspire to become more involved in youth development and empowerment projects and make a difference in young people’s lives, especially in disadvantaged communities, like the one I am from.

Q: As a UP and EMS alumni, what makes you proud to be associated with the University?

A: Being an alumnus of UP has been a tremendous source of pride and accomplishment for me. UP is a world-class institution that boasts a rich history and a strong commitment to academic excellence. The University has a diverse and inclusive community that fosters an environment of learning, growth, and innovation. As an alumnus, I am grateful for the exceptional education that I received at UP, which equipped me with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to excel in my professional and personal life. The University's focus on research and community engagement has also instilled in me a sense of responsibility to contribute meaningfully to society. Overall, being associated with UP is a badge of honour that I wear with pride, and I am confident that the University will continue to produce exceptional graduates who make a positive impact in their respective fields.

Q: What are your hopes and aspirations for Africa and its people for the rest of this decade and beyond?

A: I’m hoping for a brighter future for Africa and its people, such as improved access to education, healthcare, and technology, increased economic growth and stability, and a stronger sense of unity and collaboration among African nations.

Education empowers people to contribute to their communities and economies. Quality healthcare would benefit population health and the economy. Technology would help industries innovate, communicate, and grow. Through joint efforts and a dedication to progress, we can achieve a united, stable and prosperous Africa.

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