In conversation with Rohit Dogra, Senior Vice President, HSBC
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey as a senior finance professional?
I am a Senior Vice President at HSBC Global Finance Center. I lead the reporting, analysis and planning of business performance for global costs of the firm, with detailed analysis of costs for the enabling functions like – Risk, Finance, HR, Marketing, Technology and Shared Services etc. The analysis and metrics are used by the Group Management Board, the CFOs and COOs for cost management.
What does a typical work day in your life look like?
My average workday has a balance mix of – senior management meetings, project meetings, operational reviews and people management discussions. Since my role requires me to work with colleagues across the globe, my days starts late (about 10 AM) in conversation with Asian colleagues, followed by few hours of operational reviews before UK starts, and ends post conversations with colleagues in US, Canada or Latin America (about 8 PM).
Which CFO do you admire the most and why?
I have admired many of the CFOs for large banks, since they balance a very tough set of non-negotiable priorities, namely – business performance of the bank, risk profile of the bank, country’s economic stability, regulatory compliance and reputation of the bank as well as themselves. Though many of these priorities seem aligned but operationally they conflict quite often. The current CFO of HSBC, Iain MacKay, is admirable for the calmness and honesty he demonstrates while balancing all of the above.
What prompted you to choose a career in Finance and what motivates you to go to work every day?
Early in life I developed a fondness for logic and numbers, as well as a drive to solve problems. Soon realizing the importance of wealth in the prosperity of a nation, business or individual, I was attracted towards a career in Economics and Finance. Pursuing an MBA further helped in narrowing down my preference towards Finance, as it helped me analyze each of the drivers/strategies of a business and their contribution towards the bottom-line. I further pursued a career in Financial Research and Analysis; where everyday has been a learning experience and an opportunity to crack new problems. This motivates me ever more.
What has been your most significant achievement till date and key learning in your career so far?
While working for Fidelity Investments from 2006 to 2010, I was leading a team of credit analysts for some of the largest fixed income funds in the world. It was my good fortune that this period included – great expansionary cycle of 2006-07, the biggest financial crisis of 2008-09 followed by the global recessionary cycle of 2009-2010. The interplay of market forces, contagion, regulatory influence and change in risk preferences observed during this period have been unprecedented. These will be the basis of decision theories/ regulatory policies for the next many years. The learning during this period, as well as the achievement of applying analytical skills to situations where theoretical concepts do not apply, have been some of the biggest in my career.
Do you think that an MBA is necessary to succeed as a Finance professional?
No, I have seen many a strong finance professionals with background in liberal arts or engineering or other professional qualifications, hence I don’t think an MBA is necessary. Some of the skills important for success are- analytical, numerate, communication and inter-personal skills. Knowledge and interest in business and economics is also important. Since an MBA or a professional qualification in Finance like CFA, FRM or CA, focus on the above skills/knowledge, they can help build these in a short period of time. These skills can also be built through experience over a period of time. Apart from the above a full-time MBA program from a strong institution with a diverse faculty and student base, provides an opportunity for experiential learning and networking, which no other qualification or experience can provide.