Finance and I

Why Finance and I mix?

I love working with numbers and strongly believe that the right financial acumen can help any company to reach a position of leadership.

Motto I live my quarters by...

Be a perfectionist without losing sight of the organisation’s goals.

Being CFO to me means....

The art of taking risks (while) being responsible for consequences. It also means being able to read numbers with insight and being the sounding board for senior management.

When I switch any company I would like to be remembered for

Being a part of the team that led the company in its growth journey. And for leaving behind a well-developed team which continues to outperform without any interruptions.

Next pit stop

Move to a more socially relevant role and be able to support underprivileged youth.

Leadership goals

Be the ‘go to’ person for each and every one in the organisation, irrespective of their function.


Another business leader I look up to

Nandan Nilekani, Infosys - although he hasn’t held a CFO position. I see him as a person who could fit into any role.

A leader/mentor do I look up to and why

Shri R Thyagarajan, the founder of financial services conglomerate, the Shriram Group is my leader. He has inspired me in numerous ways.

His perfect balance of being an extremely employee centric entrepreneur while at the same time being professional and an employee at heart.

Stated atheist whose actions reflects the essence of Bhagavad Gita teachings – “Don’t stress, do your best and forget the rest”.

One deal I wish I had done

To be part of a company when it is getting listed in an international stock exchange, a dream I’m confident is possible to achieve before I hang up my boots.

One thing I still want to do

To complete half marathon is a dream I would like to pursue.

Most overrated financial advice

Evaluating all options and long term deliberations is an important tool for financial decisions. However, there are times when on the spot quick decisions are more prudent than long and thought through plans!

My mantra for adapting for change

The biggest life lessons are beautifully hidden in the sacred verses of the Thirukkural and one in particular resonates very strongly with me

The below verse roughly translates to - a true leader is capable of identifying the right person to do the job without the need of following up. To me this is the most important talent, a true hallmark of a leader.

English Couplet 517: 'This man, this work shall thus work out,' let thoughtful king command; Then leave the matter wholly in his worker’s hand.

In the War Zone

One of the greatest victories of your career as a CFO?

An incident, at the early stage of my career, is still fresh in my mind. I was on deputation, on a financial audit assignment to Pune and during the audit identified numerous irregularities. When this was brought to the local management’s attention there was a lot of resistance from them even to the extent of threats.

To prevent further audits, they locked the office preventing me from accessing any further financial documents. This was a critical, time-bound assignment and I had to complete this by the weekend. To overcome this operational obstacle, I had to seek my senior management advice. Those were the days of landline phone connections. Two of my immediate bosses were not reachable and as a last resort, I reached out to the Chairman of the company.

I anticipated 3 workable options from him – to call me back from the assignment, send another more experienced resource or ask to abandon the project. Instead he asked me to take charge and gave me full support and backed my decision irrespective of what the outcome was.

This reinforced my confidence. It took a lot of my personal energy to get the Pune management to agree to support me which I finally mustered. While this challenge was sorted, nature had its share of trouble for me. The return journey from Pune was even horrendous – 12 hours on the road in torrential rains, flash floods all the while trying to safeguard a carton load of sensitive financial documents. Thankfully, I managed to reach Santa Cruz airport travelling via two transit trains and local cabs after an eventful 12 hours.

I stood by my deep-rooted values and work ethos which resulted in a successful mission. I was part of fledgling company which reached a net worth of Rs 5000 crore, from less than Rs 50 crore within a span of 10 years and during this period achieved market capitalisation of over Rs 15,000 cr.

What was the toughest decision you had to make in your role as a CFO?

As a CFO in financial services company where money is the raw material, work-in-progress and finished goods, I had the challenge of ensuring uninterrupted supply of funds for incremental business and at the same time honouring all commitments on time.

In 2008, after the global economic crisis there was liquidity tightness in the market. There was an option to stop lending funds, shut branches and cut jobs or continue the business with moderated lending and hope for better times.

Fortunately for me, I chose the latter to raise the money which in hindsight was the best decision taken for company while there were several other similar companies which were shutting their offices and letting their employees go.

When the economy turned around, we were ready to take advantage of it. All through this churn, we ensured we retained our employees and thereby increased the customer confidence.

What is the most challenging thing you faced in your current role? What is your biggest learning in these VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguous) times?

The biggest challenge, is to adapt to a team coming from different cultures and backgrounds and at the same time being able to be leave an impression.

How do you wish to transform the CFO’s role in the future?

The CFO’s role is (now) a close partnership with the CEO. There is a common misconception, people believe that CFOs become CEOs. According to me, CEOs have a unique risk taking skills which very often CFOs miss on. We need to understand the unique qualities of CFOs. To me, CFO with the CEO skills is as important as CEO with CFO skills.

Do you feel that with current scenario of digital transformation your business metrics have changed? How?</p>

There are no areas untouched by digital technology. The same is with our business too. There is enough evidence to prove that digital transformation has helped increase employment opportunities, albeit (for people) with different skill sets.

Have you transformed into a Digital CFO yet?

Not completely. Am on my way to ‘reimagining finance for the digital age’.


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