Finance is the fuel that helps run the best engines: Vikas Chadha

Vikas Chadha, chief financial officer at Berggruen Hotels Pvt Ltd talks on his personal life, how he influenced people without mentoring them, and why one should dream big and make it a reality.

PERSONAL

Philosophy: Be the best at whatever you do, always give your 100 per cent.
 
Political views: In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you bet it was planned that way.
 
Vision for self: Build a legacy, either in business or social causes, which adds some value for future generations; everyone should contribute in their way, however big or small, to make the world a happier place.
 
First job: Deputy Manager at Tata Global Beverages, Mumbai office
 
 
THE NUMBERS GUY
 
Why I love finance: Finance helps create options and grow new ideas and innovate. It is the fuel that helps run the best engines. Any idea or business without the financial closure is bound to run into problems and lose focus.
 
One career high: Building business from scratch in an assignment during my stint at Kaya Ltd. It started with a small team working in a shared office and then grew manifold, with multiple offices in India and across globe. The vision and persistence of the startup team, who had a huge belief in the idea and worked relentlessly and seamlessly across functions in a entrepreneurial way over a period of four years, took the company to such a great height in terms of revenue and profitability.
 
My strongest skill in finance: Forecasting with greater accuracy and the ability to work around problems to come up with innovative business solutions.
 
 
The most rewarding project/moment of my profession: I was working with a consortium of bankers in the funding of a hotel project. I was racing against time and in a bid to close it quickly, I held discussions with other banks and financial institutions and worked out a complete refinance package for the existing debt. This led to a big savings in the interest costs and also got a financial closure with repayment moratorium for all loans, giving us complete flexibility in cash flows. The proactive approach and the support from all quarters to make this happen was very rewarding and fulfilling. 
 
If I were to redo a project: Would like to redo a BOOT (build, own, operate and transfer) project of a past assignment which I was working on. The project was envisaged and financial closure was done basis prototype. However, the end project encountered stoppages and breakdowns, which in hindsight, if it was to be redone should have been done with a longer time spent on pre-work, testing and quality controls. Sometimes, technologies which work excellent internationally do not work as flawlessly in the Indian environment, which gives you the experience of how to manage or plan projects in multinational environments.
 
One big mistake/failure I turned into an opportunity: We were facing issues in current loan portfolio with a consortium. This became a wake-up call for us to get out of our areas of comfort and dependency. In order to make this possible, I worked with multiple banks and financial institutions and got funds re-financed. I also was able to forge strong banking relationships with most of the big private and public sector banks, which helped me in my future assignments.
 
The legacy I would like to leave behind: My work involves relationships. I help build businesses and encourage talent. I would love to leave behind a legacy of talented and successful business leaders, who have worked with me and have benefited from me in any small way which would help them become successful business leaders and good humans.
 
 
One unforgettable lesson I learnt: Every person, given an opportunity and the confidence s/he has the potential to scale up to the top of the ladder and, hence, should not be undermined. I have seen some of the most practical ideas and out-of-the-box thinking in terms of strategy and products coming from junior colleagues or new joinees. It’s a learning to keep communicating across all levels in the organisation and take their ideas and feedback, which also sometimes help raise red flags and avoid any largescale corporate errors.
 
 BEYOND NUMBERS
 
India of my dreams: I dream of India as a developed country by 2025. While taking a leadership position in science and technology, it would also preserve and enhance its rich and diverse cultural heritage. Rise above caste, religion and state discrimination and come together as a superpower. Reinstate India’s past glory. Our country may take the spiritual leadership role to the world
 
Lesser known fact: Apart from finance, I follow art and have been a collector of paintings by contemporary Indian artistes.
 
My eureka moment/epiphany (life defining change): Clearing CA. Before this I was not so career conscious and had kept options open to work in varied fields including starting up my own venture. 
 
I as a mentor and mentee: I take to mentoring quite naturally as I wish the best for my team and help them to achieve greater heights. There are some people to whom I have become mentor unknowingly. They are not from my domain. I didn’t know till I received thank you notes from them on how some of my actions have influenced them positively or motivated them in their professional or personal lives.
 
I have had mentors and family members who have inspired me to work harder, have dreams and realise that nothing is impossible to achieve if we set our heart to get it and back it up with perseverance and hard work.
 
 
One shocking discovery about me: Though not appearing very religious , I research a lot and explore about the origins of the universe and have a strong belief on God that all happens for a cause and we all are here as part of a grand plan of the eternal creator
 
The most memorable characters in my story (family, mentors, colleagues): My parents who brought me to this world and taught me values, which have helped me through my journey. My wife and children who keep me motivated and I look forward to meet at the end of a tiring day. My siblings and all other family members who are a source of strength and encouragement. My childhood friends who have always stood by me at all times.. 
 
If I were to write a book it would be about: Dreaming big and keep persisting on the dream and watch it become a reality. I have experienced this in reality and believe that this is the best truth, which can be passed on to the society and the next generation. 
 
The leader I would love to be/the role I would love to play: Barack Obama, from the current set of leaders, for making it big against all odds. Mahatma Gandhi from the list of all time great leaders.
 
When not playing numbers (hobbies): Love travel, music, painting and working with young entrepreneurs who need guidance for their startup ventures 
 
How I de-stress: Relax with friends over drinks, occasional spa helps to relax and de-stress. Believe in meditating for a few minutes everyday.
 
What gives me hope for the future: “Believe you can and you are half way there”. I always maintain a positive mindset and believe that the best will happen to people who give their best to the world.

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