Winning CFO100: A Mark of Excellence

CFO100 winners were recognised for displaying their spectacular leadership. As they revelled in their prestigious win, they spoke to CFO India about the significance of the award and emphasised the value of leadership skills in their journey.

“I was not keeping well and still I travelled from Delhi to Mumbai just to receive this award. It was a fantastic feeling and definitely it keeps me motivated to keep working for more.” These were the words of Atul Banshal, CFO100 winner, who determindedly turned up at the 6th Annual CFO100 Programme in the country’s financial capital last month despite his poor health.
It was nothing less than special for President – Finance & Accounts of the Gurgaon-based real estate company M3M India, who received his first such accolade under the category Funds Management. “First time feelings are always great and this being my first award from CFO India, is emotional and heartwarming,” he said, savouring the moment.
Banshal takes inspiration from industry tycoon Ratan Tata, who he said, has had immense impact on him as a leader. “Leadership is all about creating leaders,” he asserted. And a platform like CFO100, he believes, further enhances his ability to deliver and create better value for aspiring leaders.
M3M India’s Banshal was not the only luminary in finance who won the prestigious CFO100 award for the first time. He had an extremely elite company to share in the form of Lalit Malik, CFO & CRO of FMCG major Dabur India, among others.
For Malik too, CFO100 is a positive platform as he feels it encourages finance leaders like him to do better especially when they are today living in VUCA times, a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
“I think it (CFO100) is a great forum to interact with very talented and experienced CFOs…It is a great way of encouraging the CFO community to perform better and better, especially as the external environment is changing very fast,” said Malik, who won CFO100 award under the category Risk Management. He further described the VUCA world, and emphasised that it has some implication for, in particularly, the FMCG business.  “I always keep saying we are living in VUCA world across the globe. We have seen exchange rate fluctuating in different markets and also seen uncertainty with regard to what is happening on the monsoon front. There is a lot of complexity, whether it is the new companies Act, the Indian Financial Code or the Goods and Service Tax Bill,” said Malik adding that there also has been an ambiguity around with regard to the interpretation around the retrospective taxation.
The role of a CFO has evolved globally, and has become bigger than ever. Dabur’s Lalit Malik feels that the CFOs are today partners in business growth and thus leadership skills play a crucial part considering the volatile environment. “I think the role of CFO is to ensure that there is complete control, compliance, and consistency within the organisation… At the CFO level, the technical skills that a professional needs to have, acquire and keep learning are, of course, a given; but what makes a difference is his leadership qualities,” Malik said. Questions such as how he takes decisions, how professional he is, and how he is encouraging team spirit within the organisation, all become important in defining his leadership, Malik added.  
Also winning for the first time were Dharmesh Trivedi, CFO, Urban Infrastructure (Corporate governance) and Manas Datta, Group CFO, Wockhardt (Integration of Technology), among many others. Trivedi strongly opined that a CFO couldn’t be successful without being a leader, while Datta emphasised the value of technology in the leadership of finance. “From the leadership of finance, unless otherwise one is technologically advanced or is again revaluating one’s technological excellence, I think sustainability of any business or finance function is doubtful,” said Wockhardt’s Dutta.
But unlike M3M India’s Banshal, Dabur’s Malik and many others like them, Hemant Kumar Ruia, CFO, Reliance Retail tasted the CFO100 success for the fourth time in a row. Having already won in 2013 under the category Use of Technology, and in 2014, under People, he received  last two years awards including this year’s under Collaboration.  Talking about his past experiences, he said each of the episodes gave him a different perspective and brought out a different ability in him to deliver. “Each one of them was equally good”. Ruia added that the awards helped him overcome his fears to experiment as a leader.
Be it finance leaders like Reliance Retail’s Ruia, who tasted the CFO100 award multiple times or Dabur’s Lalit Malik, who experienced this for the first time, the CFO100 award, not only recognises their achievements and leadership skills, but also gives them a reason to continue to do more as a leader in future. What the CFO100 award effectively cultivates in winners and those who may win in the next episode, is the hunger to lead.

“It helps me to keep growing as a leader”

Bhavin Ashar, Regional Director Finance, Perrigo API India Pvt Ltd, is extremely delighted to win his third CFO100 award. He shares his experience of getting this laurel once again.
Through his remarkable leadership, he has today sealed his presence in the world of finance. Bhavin Ashar, Regional Director Finance, Perrigo API India Pvt. Ltd, is smiling in joy as he gets yet another CFO100 award in 2016, this time under the category – Finance in a Startup. In a detailed interview to CFO India, Ashar talks about the value of this award in his life as a leader. Edited Excerpts:
Q: What does the CFO100 award mean to you? How do you see this award?
A: I feel humble receiving the award. It reinforces to me that I am on the right path of my work and it is recognised by the esteemed organisation (CFO India) which is connecting various (finance) leaders across the country through its conferences and other programs.
Q: Considering that this is the third time you have won this award, which one of these you regard as more special?
A: I received the previous two awards for corporate governance and this time in the Finance in a Startup category. I have been working with Perrigo API India, a 100% subsidiary of Perrigo Company Public Limited Company (which in 2009 acquired 85 per cent stake in the then called Vedants Drugs and Fine Chemicals). In this journey I have been through a roller coaster ride, which is duly recognised by CFO institute, so all three years are important for me.
Q: What is leadership according to you? Does the CFO100 help you continue to grow as a leader?
A: I have been highly influenced by thoughts of Stefan Covey (renowned American educator and the author of the bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), who said leadership is built on characteristic and competence. The other great author on leadership by whom I have been influenced is Robin Sharma (well recognised Canadian author) who talks a lot of leading without title. I think CFO100 (event) helps in growing us as a leader, as it reinforces on our competencies. One meets with various leaders who are either from very big organisation or from very small organisation. They have their stories on path of their success, which is always inspiring.
Q: What crucial decisions you take as a leader in your organisation?
A: I have been working with the multinational company (Perrigo) in a cross cultural environment. Working in matrix structure requires one to build lot of trust among the stakeholders. So collaboration and consensus building among various stakeholders and growing the people in finance is a major purpose of my role.

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