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Current Gig: CFO - Sikka Group

What will be your priced possession that you have?

Priced possession, I would call all my family members.

The one quote that inspires you to wake up every morning.

 'If we are thankful for what you have or what we possess, then we are enough in having more and if we concentrate only on what we don't have then we would never end with enough.”

Without drawing any margin, you can be thankful for what you have. Whatever we have achieved, we have achieved from our effort only and if we are not thankful for that, then that means, we are not valuing our efforts so far and the grace of god due to which we are right now.

Which is your favourite book and movie?

One of my favourite book is - War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, The Alchemist, and Bhagvad Gita which I have read.

So, how would you introduce yourself to our readers?

I am Ravi Haordiaand currently I'm working as CFO of the Sikka Group - handling real estate, automobile, hospitality sectors with an annual turnover of 800 crores.

I am a Chartered Accountant by Profession and I hail from Dhanbad (Jharkhand). I come from a business family. I did my schooling from Dhanbad, post that, I moved to Kolkata St. Xavier's College from where I did my graduation, simultaneously I did my CA from Kolkata in 2010.

In our family, we are 3 brothers - one has joined my father in his business and the other one is also a Chartered Accountant. In my entire family, there are more than 25 CAs. So, I would say it's a family of Chartered Accountants.

Tell us about your journey so far.

I cleared my CA in 2010 and in Kolkata, started my career with Shri Cement. So, I spent nearly two years in Shri Cement - which is the leading manufacturer of cement in North India.

Ravi Harodia

When I was in that company, those 2 years were really very crucial point of time because at that time, the company was flourishing and those years were the landmark years for the company. I was basically in the management office of that company in Kolkata - all the strategies of that company used to flow from that office only. So, that gave me an inside view how the strategies come out from a company's top on considering the present market's value and what could be the key decisions which can completely turn around a company and take it to a different way.

Besides that, I have worked with Bharti Airteland Apeejay Group. At Apeejay group - I was responsible for building and running a new hospitality brand which involved starting from scratch, doing business development, project finances which helped to enlarge the portfolio of my work skills. So, that was a great accomplishment from my side from a ‘no-hotel' to ‘so-many-hotels'. The entire processes were set up by me.

When I left the group at a decent level of processes and controls in place, whereby, if you see their industry hospitality, that needs a very granular level of processes because that is a service industry - within service industry also, there lies hospitality whereby your entire focus in on service only. You have not just to serve the customers - you have to make them happy. So, our processes have to be very stringent and upto the mark.

Then I came across Sikkagroup and joined this group which is also into hospitality, with their main business being real-estate and automobiles. So, although at this point of time, the group is facing some challenges due to the latest developments - the overall market cycle, but even the financial stability of the group and the challenges which is their standing for me, I accepted the offer and joined the group.

If you can share a bit about the domains, the group works and what comes around you?

If you understand today the responsibility of a CFO is far reaching and due to the developments which have been enlarged - there has been a lot of regulatory changes and compliances & responsibilities which have been put upon the CFO.

So, being a CFO, my responsibility primarily is to see whether the entire business is financially sustainable, regulatory compliances are done regularly, the kind of risks which the industry is witnessing or due to competition - those kind of risks are being taken care of. The group is adjusted to take care of those kind of risks.We need to create provisions so that those kind of risks are being handled properly.

What will be your favourite stress-buster?

If you work at a stretch from some 9 to 12 hours, then obviously you are going to feel the stress, so every 2 or 3 hours, you need to make use of (say) 5 minutes for yourself, engage your mind in some other activity by surfing any social website, updating yourself with some news and all or may be speaking to somebody.

Periodically, I prefer taking a 3 to 4 days of vacation in every 4 or 5 months, so as to revitalize myself and bring back the entire energy which I need to have here.

So, what will be your secret hack of making your office super productive like managing a lot of teams so that the time wastage is reduced and more work can be done in a single stretch of time?

For doing that, you have to give full ownership of the task to your sub-ordinates, if you do micro-management for the sake of controlling everything then you might not get the expected result. Also, you need to guide them wherever they are stuck - that will increase the productivity and efficiency of the whole team.

What is the best professional advice which you got from your senior?

One advice which I have received and what I believe works for me that - give your best and expect a litter lesser than what you actually deserve; if you expect a little less, then you will never be too much dissatisfied and actually this dissatisfaction is one thing which comes back and deteriorates your actual performance - your productivity.

How you see the impact of new compliances and regulations?

In my opinion, the new reforms will bring uniformity in terms of reporting and compliances and will benefit all the stakeholder such as finance managers, government, customers, authorities etc in long term.

Now, from company's point of view, the staff may not be positive immediately, as it will bring down the sales velocity, but overall it will give a very good result because it will bring back the customer's confidence in the industry.

If you see the real estate, it is suffering is because of the lack of customer's confidence or loss of customer's confidence from the developers. So, with RERA, every company would become very careful - they would think twice before using money for some other purpose other than what for which the company has been received by them.

So, with the improvement of discipline among the developers and all, obviously the customers would be ready to go for projects which are just delivered or under construction projects. It would revive the sentiment and the confidence and it would give a very good opportunity for the developers who have been genuinely working towards delivering the project. So, any legislation which is made with a good spirit and implemented or executed very well, will always give a good result.

What is the effect on the economy in terms of these real-estate industries with the introduction of RERA?

Right now on immediate basis, I would say that the real estate industries have gone slow.

The entire industry is witnessing a slow-down because of the GST and demonetization factors which had been introduced.

So, far as the economy is concerned, since the industry is witnessing a slow-down, so obviously the growth in job-generation has also witnessed a slow-down. As a result, it will play a certain role in the overall employment changes and all.

How do you look forward for your CFO role for the next 5 years?

The role of a CFO is evolving in a different way. Like traditionally, if you see, the role of a CFO was - to manage only the finance part, number crunching, managing the regulatory & statutory aspect - all these kind of things was there. But, now, the role which you will be expecting from a CFO will be very different - like he will be seen as a partner to a CEO or the business-head of the company, so he has to support him not only by being a support department, but he has to come affront, he has to advice the CEO on every business decisions in every key-decision that is taken by the company, on the approval of the decision, it's impact on the overall business, its impact on the return to the shareholders, its impact on the risk which the organization would be undertaking.

Have you transformed into a digital CFO yet?

We are gradually under the transformation and that is the call of the time, if a CFO wants to emerge himself as successful then he has to do that. So, we are now using analytics in many segments of our business, particularly which are more retail-customer interfacing. Then we are also using tools which are more digital and more automated. So, he has to understand hospitality and customer behaviour - customer behaviour plays a major role. So, those kinds of techniques are being used by us.

What do you see in a prospect employer being a recruiter also being a young CA or young finance officials?

Basically, it depends on what role you are coming for. If you are having a crucial role and there is a lot of growth opportunity in that role then what I see basically is that how much logical muscle that person is having, level of self-confidence in that person.Also, what I see how much is the curiosity in that person to learn new things.

So, the most important thing is that - the person you are having for which the role has a very high growth-opportunity, then that person should have very logical thinking himself. That is what is needed because if you are having a CA, then obviously he will be hard working, technically he would be sound. There is no doubt in that.

But to succeed in a corporate role, he should have a logical and rational thinking.

if we prioritize it in the terms of percentage, then what will be the ratio of these skills?

If a person is CA, then he will already have technical skills, so I think logical skill and dedication will be required - logical skill would be (say) 40% and same for dedication and 20% other things. If you are working for some corporate sector then there are many traits which you have to exhibit for getting a good career growth and all.

What will be your career advice to the budding finance professionals who aspire to achieve greater heights in their career?

Apart from the technical knowledge which most of the finance professionals always emphasize like they would update themselves with the comingupdates like IndAS, the coming changes in taxation, GST etc. and all those things that is necessary.

But, apart from that, being a CA, you are also expected to have other knowledge of different industry, economy, businesses, then if you are already in corporate house, then you need to understand about the industry which the particular company is functioning, to know about the competitors - what they are doing and how they are doing, how differently they are doing in terms of business.

Now, in terms of processes also, you need to understand how different corporate houses are being working and what is the best practice that is prevailing at different corporate houses. So, you need to have an understanding and knowledge of the market, about the different corporate houses and then you need to choose what is the best for your company.

So, you have to be very flexible, agile and active about what's happening outside your company, what is the best practice which can sustain you. So, the role of the financial professional should not be only limited to a perfect financial advice but also to maximize the yield of the person who is asking for that advice; the yield can be financial yield also or it can be non-financial; how to maximize his return - if you are supporting your department, you have to help him in a way so that his takeaway is maximum. So, in that way, it should be executed.

Thank you so much for interacting with us.

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