In conversation with Bharat Jain, Manager – Equity Research, CRISIL
What does a typical work day in your life look like?
At the moment, to be honest, any work day is not typical. However, what could be typical is some of the qualities each work day brings along with them and those are challenges, newness, diversity and the unknown.
Each day is as exciting as any other day. It starts with a list of to do’s – short term and long term with priorities assigned, post which execution commences or the planning to execute each agenda. And there is also the unexpected that comes along. In approaching these I get to learn something new every day, which could be dealing with tricky situations, diverse stakeholders or range of work.
In my current role, what keeps me on my toes is the unpredictable nature of requests and that makes any day as exciting as ever. Prioritizing and Execution skills are the most important as they help in focusing. However, the most critical are flexibility and multi-tasking abilities that make work convenient.
Which CFO do you admire the most and why?
Kirti Vagadia, CFO Suzlon Group, is the one who I admire. Suzlon was in trouble from all sides after it acquired RePower (for technology) in 2007/08. As the 2008/09 financial crisis broke, Suzlon’s operating margins and operating cash flow were under pressure due to high debt from RePower acquisition. This led to execution slippage which resulted in loss of revenue. Amidst these they were also tied down by constraint in bringing RePower cash to Parent (Suzlon) due to RePower’s debt bindings. All this resulted in Suzlon defaulting on its debt obligations and going into Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) and was on verge of Bankruptcy.
Kirti Vagadia was the CFO in charge during this situation from where Suzlon rose like a Phoenix from the ashes. He first settled the CDR issues by helping Suzlon manage liabilities where all debt holders agreed to interest and principal moratorium before re-commencing payments. He helped Suzlon bring in cost efficiencies and sell non-core/non-performing asset. All this helped in cash flow management.
The improved efficiencies have led to margins increase and the company turned EBITDA positive for the last two consecutive quarters. The company is now looking to sell part stake to raise capital which should further ease the cash flow. With government re-establishing policies favorable to Wind Power Generation, things have been looking much better for Suzlon.
While a lot of work still remains, Kirti has helped Suzlon to sail through the situation which is commendable.
What prompted you to choose a career in Finance and what motivates you to go to work everyday?
Well, as a Chartered Accountant (CA), the bent towards financial career is given. But it was the initial stint at small time brokerage firm that helped me make a firm decision to continue a career pursuit in the financial services industry.
Motivation for me comes from the simple fact that I need to like my work to be able to do things day-in and day-out and that is what keeps me going. What the my current role offers is challenges, diversity of work and unpredictability, this makes the work more exciting
What has been your most significant achievement till date and key learning in your career so far?
My stay at CRISIL for nine years now is the most significant achievement. The most important learning is the ability to manage diverse stakeholders – internal (reportees, colleagues, senior management) and external (Clients, other departments/business)
Do you think that an MBA is necessary to succeed as a Finance professional?
I believe not only MBA but any professional or post-graduate degree is important, whether it is a CA or an MBA or a CFA. As most people do not have the background or experience, these courses help them with building initial mindset and developing professional approach. But the eventual responsibility of success or failure lies with the individual