Leading India Inc chief financial officers emphasised the the critical need for agility, collaboration, and innovation in the face of volatility and chaos in the current times.

“When you’re taking this journey, there’s going to be challenges and difficulties, but if you imbibe a few things, your journey will be simpler, and you’ll reach your goals faster,” advised Kewal Handa, Former CFO & Former MD, Pfizer, Former Chairman, Union Bank of India, delivering a special address at ETCFO Leadership Summit.

He cautioned against overconfidence in known problem-solving and emphasized the importance of a disciplined, synthesizing, and creative mind.

Handa stressed the importance of a disciplined, synthesizing, and creative mind, underlining the need for CFOs to surround themselves with individuals who possess diverse expertise.

“As a CFO, you also need to have a synthesizing mind, it will help you swim across various functions easily, that mind is something which means you have to move out of your organisation, see what is happening and bring it in,” he said.

Ritesh Tiwari, ED-Finance & CFO, Hindustan Unilever Limited, acknowledged the unprecedented times and urged fellow CFOs to make their business models agile and resilient.

“We are in unprecedented times now, and I feel this could be the new normal, with all this volatility and chaos around what we can do is make our business models agile and have resilience to face the challenges,” he said.

Tiwari highlighted the necessity of adapting to the new normal by embracing change, fostering innovation, and increasing organizational risk-taking capabilities.

Creating purpose driven organisations’

He also highlighted the role of CFOs in fostering purpose-driven organizations, aligning the interests of shareholders, consumers, and employees, while focusing on future-oriented metrics.

Ramesh Subramanyam, Group CFO & President, Hinduja Group, addressed the challenges of managing multiple businesses, emphasizing the importance of confronting issues head-on. Subramanyam stressed the CFO’s role in presenting hard facts on the table, addressing underperforming businesses, and strategizing for the future.

“When you have multiple businesses you have different set of challenges — one, where some businesses aren’t working well, second where some are meandering and third, the future businesses. Here, the CFO has to bring a hard patch on the table and bang the issue,” he said.

Kaleeswaran Arunachalam, CFO, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals Limited, emphasised the significance of agility and collaboration in overcoming the current chaotic business environment. Arunachalam advocated for partnerships as a means of navigating through intense competition and chaos.

“There’s enough competition and chaos today, and the only way to get out of it is to be agile and see if we can partner more to overcome the chaos,” he said.

Niranjan Banodkar, CFO, YES Bank, said that with unpredictability in today’s business landscape, CFOs need to demonstrate agility in business plans, moving away from rigid structures towards adaptable strategies resembling lighthouses.

“Unpredictability is the new normal for all businesses. I think it’s very important that the finance function or CFO function is able to demonstrate agility in the business plans. So business plans is not going to be the diktat anymore, they’re going to be like lighthouses,” he said.

Aneel Gambhir, CFO, DTDC Express Limited, expressed optimism about India’s position on the global stage. Gambhir encouraged CFOs to leverage the country’s standing and focus on creating value in their respective organizations.

“Now that we are better than other countries across globe, we can leverage our stand, and as CFOs look for more value creation,” he said

Stressing the importance of deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning in adapting to the changing business landscape. Tiwari said there was a need for technological integration, particularly in dealing with the massive load of billions of transactions.

  • Published On Mar 7, 2024 at 01:44 PM IST

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