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“Finance as a function has changed a lot and it continues to evolve with respect to the level of business partnering, business development and strategic decision making beside compliance to the laws, regulation, and accounting. The government is putting a lot of focus on regulations & its compliance with stringent penalties. It will bring a lot of opportunities for the finance professionals and technology is trying to catch up there with similar speed but there will always be a need for professionals to work/develop and process the transactions/software. A lot of data is being put to use for analytical purposes but still, a lot of work needs to be done to support the strategic decision making with AI, ML, and similar or advanced technologies.” says CA/CS/CPA Ameet Guptaa on being asked.  How the role of a CFO has changed after the automation of the finance system in the industry? and How budding professionals can prepare themselves for this change?  

CCI in an exclusive talk with Ameet Guptaa   CFO- Hexagon Private Limited

Ameet has more than 20 years of experience in Finance and accounting. He has worked in various sectors, in various roles. He has previously held the position of a CFO and CS at GE Power Services India and worked as a Finance Controller at Vodafone Essar. Ameet is currently working as the Chief Financial Officer of Hexagon India Limited. He is one of the leading CFOs in the nation. 

Here are some details about him:

(a) Secret hack of making office hours super productive?  “Think, Plan and Execute”
(b) Favorite quote / what motto do you live your life by? “There is no substitute for hard work”
(c) Who does he admire  “Mahatma Gandhi’ 
(d) What’s next? “Nurture team/people to become better in professional & personal life.

Ameet told us that he always aspired to be the CFO since the start of his career, he went through various ups and downs. “All my dreams got shattered and I restarted everything from scratch” says Ameet. In our conversation with Ameet, we tried to seek relevant advice for budding finance professionals, startups, and all the aspirants aiming to start a career in Finance. Here is how Ameet responded to our questions:

1. You are one of the leading CFOs in the nation. What challenges did you face to reach where you are today?

As a person, I have gone through various ups and downs of life. I learned / unlearnt new things, made a lot of mistakes and also learned from them and started afresh.

 

If I look back on my school life. I would say I was an average student till class 10th. I was a bit casual about my studies. It was in class 12th when I realized that to stand out in the crowd I will have to do things differently. I realized that I am on the wrong path and since then I started working on my studies seriously since then. After class 12th I started with B Com (H). I also decided to pursue the Company Secretary Course. I was so intrigued by the beauty of Finance and Accounting that I later decided to do Chartered Accountancy.  With hard work and God’s grace I cleared my CA Intermediate exams with an All India Rank. My efforts had given results. Soon I started earning a handsome stipend (industry). I was on cloud nine but a year with no job made me hit the ground again. Everything seemed to be empty despite all this professional knowledge.

What happens when you fall you get back up again. I restarted my career with the support of my family and came back to the industry and restarted my journey! Thanks to all my friends & colleagues with whom I worked and they gave me a chance to learn and demonstrate finance!

2. Please walk us through your role as a chief financial officer in your organization. What are you doing at Hexagon, how big is this responsibility, and how do you manage work-life balance?  

Hexagon is a diversified group primarily a Digital IT company working on niche technologies like AI, ML platforms, Smart factories on one side and Geospatial/references cloud data point on another side on Infrastructure, solving complex matters for industries, government to support their program for efficiencies and effectiveness.

We have multiple business divisions and multiple legal entity structures with matrix organization which is spread across India. Hexagon has approx. 2000+ employees and 15 + locations with an annual turnover of Euro 100 million.

At present, my role is to enable the country president and business division leaders to develop and grow the region revenues, other financial metrics & building compliance culture in the organization. 

3. What does your typical office day look like? Where do you spend most of your time? Is it on doing compliances, managing finances or is it on people and team management? 

My day at work goes in enabling multiple business division strategic / deals support i.e. Commercial activities. I also review daily / weekly cash flow, receivable management and compliances reviews take an average 1 hours per day 

I am a people's person so I am always available for the team / cross-functional team to support.

4. How do you think the role of a CFO has changed after the automation of the finance system in the industry? What is the role of a CFO going to be five to ten years from now and how will it be different from the present, is it going to be substantially different? How budding professionals can prepare themselves for this change?  

Finance as a function has changed a lot and is continuing to evolve with respect to the level of business partnering, business development and strategic decision making beside compliance with the laws, regulation, and accounting too. Government is putting a lot of focus on regulations & its compliance with stringent penalties.. will bring a lot of opportunities for the finance professional and technology is trying to catch up there with similar speed but there will always be a need for professionals to work/develop and process the transactions/software.

A lot of data is being put to use for analytical but still, a lot of work needs to be done to support the strategic decision making with AI, ML, and similar or advanced technologies.

5. You have worked across multiple industries. What are the benefits of having diverse experiences across several industries?

Though for finance/accounting/tax function there is no major impact on changing industries if one is an agile and quick learner with a proactive approach one can survive in any industry. Diverse industry experience will come at a stage when one is driving the business processes or is engaged in larger strategic decision making (some knowledge help bring the others perspective and right people/channel to bring the right connect for easy solutions/understanding) 

 

6. You have more than 15 years of experience in the Finance and Accounts domain. What would you say to guide the young CAs and Accounting professionals? 
   
Young CA’s/ professionals have a lot of energy and passion and they want to make it quick participation in the strategic decision making / commercial processes in the business. It’s good to aspire and contribute but we should still focus on our basics and should have hands-on work experience in all field of finance/account by way of short stint (1 + years) else one will not be able to connect the things or understand the perspective of challenges faced by the team member or sub-function and its impact on the business.

7. Do you think the tax and accounting profession is going through a crisis at the moment in our country or do you think the scope of career in this stream has widened in the past decade? 

In my view currently, there is no crisis for Tax & Accounting profession

The government is pursuing a lot on corporate governance and has introduced new bills, acts and it became more complex to comply with the requirement and more and more people/businesses are hiring finance/accounting professionals. 

CEOs & Entrepreneurs are putting a lot of reliance on Finance people to partner with business teams beyond accounting to drive the business, cost efficiencies

8. As a CFO what financial advice would you give to the budding startups in India?
  
In startups, the focus should be on building scalable business models and in my view there are various stages in the business and there are various ways to have finance/accounting & tax teams.

At initial stage take help from shared professionals services for registration and basic stat compliances and identifying the best Go to Market model for the business 

Once setup is up and running and we got volumes to say above threshold as applicable to the model. Start building the good finance team for Management reporting & efficiency along with shared services from professional firms.

After few quarters reassess the situation and start building a team to make entire process scalable and sustainable, we can still use shared services for basic work 

9. What is the best piece of professional advice you have ever been given?

  • Unlearn and learn things as you progress since change is the constant thing in this world
  • Adapt to the business needs and starting partnering with it else someone else will do the same

10. What message would you like to share with the CA Fraternity and other tax & accounting professionals through CAclubindia?

What I would say to the reader is always be passionate to learn and deliver the task and never shy away from the work. There is no substitute for hard work.

Grab the opportunities as it comes, never say No and try to make the most of it, be prepared for the challenges and work to resolve them, success will come. I always aspired to be the CFO at the start of my career but all my dreams got shattered and I restarted everything from scratch. Personally, no one in my family is in a Job/services background or professional to guide and I missed a couple of initial opportunities and have gone through the pain and after restarting my career I never made that mistake again !! 

Always strive for the best results in whatever you are pursuing and give your best.

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