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New Normal Introduces Changes Into Existing CFO roles

Gone are the days when CFOs were in more of a traditional accounting role—overseeing the Finance department, keeping an eye on the budget, and acting as a historian, reporting on what had already happened.

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In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, we are hearing the term, “new normal” at every turn when it comes to how we operate personally and in business. It goes without saying that the pandemic has spurred the latest “new normal” – and a significant one at that.  

BW Businessworld in association with BW People held a conference on 25th November 2020. Of the many panel discussion, one focussed upon “CFO’s the change-makers in organizational Transformation.” The key speakers for this panel were Ganesh Karuppannan, CFO, Hetero Labs Ltd., and Viswanath Pudukkod, CFO, Randstad, moderated by Sunil Kumar, Editorial Head BW Businessworld.

Pandemic indeed has caused sleepless nights to all the CFOs, irrespective of any sector across the globe. Gone are the days when CFOs were in more of a traditional accounting role—overseeing the Finance department, keeping an eye on the budget, and acting as a historian, reporting on what had already happened.  

Coming from a pharma background, Karuppannan throws light upon the scenario such that, he claims that what they have been experiencing during a pandemic isn’t something which is new in their industry, the magnitude may have been different but the industry has never been exempted from spontaneous challenges and unforeseen situations. 

“Products have got heavily impacted, along with loss of labour and actually sourcing of raw materials was the biggest challenge for us which technically impacted us a lot during the months of April-May,” explains. 

The role of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) today is to safeguard the enterprise value of a company. Gone are the days when their job was only limited making profit and loss balance sheet and keep the cash-flows rolling. 

“Apart from what our KRA’s were, additionally we have been also been connecting with clients to ask of their well-being but our own employees were always our primary responsibility. Also, we designed manuals too on ow to get our employees back on their jobs,” explained Pudukkod. 

“Alongside, resilience was another factor which was layed thrust upon where we were designing plans on how to continue serving our clients who have maintained their calm and kept their trust intact upon us.” 

The pain point was actually in the month of March-April for the pharma industry and their respective CFOs where they were working relentlessly on getting disinfectants and sanitising products in the market. Also, “mobilizing the workforce and getting the approvals, which got by June 23, but the previous 120 hard working days were complete ‘no breather’ for us,” explains Karuppannan. 

Though unlike other entities, the Pharma industry didn’t fall under the category of shut down, on contrary, they actually had the time of their life!  

Further, towards the end, Karuppannan made a very valid point by stating that sanitising industry is pretty transitory in nature. In the next 2 years when people will be availed of vaccinations, eventually, people will begin shifting back to soaps and regular disinfectants. 

Consistent across all these timeframes is the need for CFOs to balance compliance and disruption, leveraging data in new ways to enable operational leaders to build sustainable plans in the face of significant change. It is a role that requires courage, confidence, and boundless competence. CFOs must simultaneously be a source of inspiration and stability to the entire institution. This includes their own staff members — many of whom likely have never encountered the type of large-scale disruption currently underway—as they learn and hone their own skills by watching leaders perform in this unprecedented time.  

On a continuing basis, CFOs must ensure that their institutions are effectively measuring and tracking results versus internal and external KPIs. At a fundamental level, CFOs will be responsible for driving data and analytics for their institutions. Having the right tools, and collecting and analyzing enrolment and operating data, will be critical to helping institutions keep on track. 




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