A fine balance

Selecting 100 winners from a list of equally deserving CFO nominees is indeed an arduous task. But for the 16-member Jury, it proved to be a satisfying exercise, as they learnt the nuances of fine balance.

CFO100 is just getting bigger and better with each passing edition. Since its launch in 2011, the annual event has become an annual highlight among financial professionals. One of India’s most sought after awards among financial heads, the event pits these luminaries against the best in the industry and challenges them to demonstrate their financial knowledge and professional skills. Anil Parashar, CEO, Interglobe Technology Quotient and one of the Jury members of the recently held sixth edition finds CFO100 a great initiative (by CFO India) and very well accepted among India’s financial heads. “When I visit a lot of people, who are today CEOs and CFOs, I feel very happy when I see CFO100 awards on their tables. The award has the pride of place and most winners are CEOs of organisations today. This shows that this is a reward which is well accepted in the industry and highly appreciated,” he said, adding, “It has become pretty much a benchmark in the industry.” Another Jury member Rupa Vora, Former Group Director & CFO, IDFC Alternatives, echoes his view, “I think it’s a brilliant idea and the fact that it is done transparently and a no nonsense award that makes it brilliant. Also, the categories are so many that you actually have inclusive awardees. Instead of awarding one person, you have many more people appreciated in CFO fraternity.”

Merits of CFOs that the Jury looked into

• Passion and commitment to work
• Ability to think beyond finance and compliance to bring in innovation
• Providing business with inputs and innovative thinking to benefit profit, people or planet
• Focus on cost management and sustainability
• Team spirit & risk management
• Being inclusive, to bring in synergies to the group
The task to shortlist 100 award winners under 12 categories for the sixth annual event was not easy. After the first level of shortlisting (filtration), the candidates had to go through a stringent process of evaluation by a 16-member distinguished Jury comprising peers and subject matter experts. 
The jury members had the arduous task of assessing the shortlisted applications forwarded to them for 12 categories in an unbiased and objective manner based on merit. For Anil, marking candidates was really a tough job as all of them were competent and had come already through the first level of evaluation. “To evaluate them on yardstick is always a challenge for the Jury. You want us to do a fair job and at the same time all the candidates are competent. When you go from one candidate to another, then what is it that differentiates between them that becomes a bit of a challenge for the Jury, but in a positive way,” he says. Rupa, on the other hand, based her assessment on whether the candidate was a thought leader leading by example and contributing to industry thought leadership. “The basis of my assessment involved the process to identify CFOs who were passionate about their work and who were thinking beyond their finance and compliance, finding a business partner who was transforming finance, providing business with inputs and innovative thinking to benefit either profit, people or planet.” 

 “To evaluate them on yardstick is always a challenge for the Jury. You want us to do a fair job and at the same time all the candidates are competent.” Anil Parashar,Jury Member

Anil mostly weighed on the criteria like innovation and sustainability. “What is the newness (innovation) that you bring in the realm of your organisation. What is that different thing that you did from others? My second criterion was sustainability. I may have improved cost management, but is it long lasting? You can sometimes compromise and keep certain things in goal. So, is it sustainable and be replicated in a larger cycle or not.” His third criterion of assessment was passion and commitment that candidates have brought into their job. “It’s because people with passion and commitment may not be able to perform well in the short term, but in the long run, they do well.” 

“The categories are so many that you actually have inclusive awards. Instead of awarding one person, you have many more people appreciated in the CFO fraternity.”Rupa Vora, Jury Member

As per the norm, post filtration, each completed application form (of shortlisted candidates) is forwarded to two members of the Jury. The Jury may interview the shortlisted candidate (face-to-face or over telephone) should they feel a gap in the form. The Jury members then exercise their expertise and experience to decide upon the scores to each candidate on pre-decided parameters. Rupa was all happy with the first level of screening that made her task a bit easier. “This screening was done very well. The profiles that came to me were properly screened. So, I didn’t have to look at people who are not good at all. Then the timeline was good enough to give me enough time to engage with nominees and make my assessment,” she opined and added, “The people were really very good and interacting with them was like adding value to the discussion. It was a learning process for both of us. So, it was a very good experience I had.” Team spirit was also a factor that Rupa looked at before making her assessment about a candidate and that how much a person is looking be a steward to the organisation. “What I found commonly in all people, every person talked of achievements, but nobody wanted to take all the credit for it.” A great supporter of gender diversity, she expressed her dismay over not enough women nominating themselves for the award and has a suggestion, “We know many CFOs. If we could encourage their companies to come forward and nominate them, then, I think, it will be a great idea to increase the pipeline of women CFOs.” 
Anil’s winning tips to CFOs, “You have to be an inclusive player. You can think of synergies that you bring to the group. Great leaders of tomorrow have to look for synergies, like how do you take everybody along and along with that bring technology, innovation, and other things.” He added, “No matter how the term may look, do not see yourself as CFO, but as a leader of the company and think beyond. Sometimes, I bracket myself because of my designation and sometimes I abdicate my responsibility from other things saying what can I do. That what can I do, to me is a loser. You can do lot of things and make right noises to the right people.” Being a jury member for the CFO100 was a “learning experience” for Anil, who has even communicated in his organisation some great ideas that he received during the evaluation process.


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