Feb 08
Talent is the Tool
Talent is the Tool
Building a talent pool and plugging cost leakages are the key messages from L&T’s F&A Meet 2023
 
L&T's Annual F&A Meet and the 22nd CFO Awards 2023 were hosted at AMN Tower in Powai on 7 December.
 
The day-long event, presided over by L&T CFO Mr R Shankar Raman, was attended by the Finance & Accounting Heads of the various L&T Group entities and a few select invitees from other related functions.
 
The CFO Awards ceremony was graced by several key L&T leaders – such as Whole-time Director & Sr EVP Mr Anil V Parab, L&T Realty CEO & MD Mr Shrikant Joshi, and EVP & Head – Corporate HR Dr C Jayakumar.
 
In his opening remarks, Mr Shankar Raman underscored how scaling up brings with it diverse challenges which L&T must navigate deftly to retain its competitive edge.
 
Lauding the Central government’s decision to veer to investment-led growth, he said that this shift in strategy has vastly expanded the canvas of opportunities, which is clearly reflected in the ever-growing order book and revenue figures of the L&T Group. He urged the audience to be cognisant of how climate change may trigger a wholesale rebuild of infrastructure across the world, and if that happens, L&T should be ready to tap that opportunity.
 
Referring to L&T’s decision to exit non-core businesses and unlock capital through asset monetisation, in addition to an improvement in working capital management, Mr Shankar Raman said that these measures are contributing to the conglomerate’s transition to an asset- light and capital-light model. He mentioned the share buyback that L&T completed in 2023 and termed it a rare phenomenon for any projects contracting company.
 
He called for continuous improvement in the Company’s businesses so that the newly incubated ones can be provided the necessary support, as they have the potential to open up new streams of revenue and profit.
 
Underscoring the need for building a competent talent pool and plugging cost leakages, Mr Shankar Raman said that senior F&A leadership must devote time to identify and groom the right talent. He stressed on the need to move away from instances of force-fitting individuals into roles and would rather have a favourable match between the person’s abilities and the role’s required skillsets. Also, business verticals should be open to the idea of inorganic growth to acquire strategic skillsets and technology.
 
He summed up saying that going forward, finance professionals would need to get accustomed to tighter regulations and increased compliances, and the onus remains on them to strike the right balance whereby the entrepreneurial spirit does not get stifled.
 
The gathering was also addressed by three experts from Deloitte India who covered topics central to the functioning of all corporates. Mr Sunil D Shah (Tax Partner) spoke on General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR), Ms Joyce Rodriguez (Partner - Cyber Risk Advisory Services) on Cyber-security and Mr S Anjani Kumar (Partner - Consulting) on Generative AI.
 
Elaborating on how GAAR has been conceptualised to plug the loopholes that allow deliberate tax avoidance, Mr Shah felt the government should ensure that GAAR is applied primarily as a deterrent and not as a tool for augmenting tax collections.
 
Ms Rodriguez outlined how cyber-security has evolved over the years to take centre-stage with ‘right to privacy’ finally being given legal validity in India. The digital economy in India is already flourishing, however the enforcement date for data privacy and cyber-security is yet to be announced. 
 
Elaborating the definitions of Data Principals, Data Fiduciaries and Data Processors and their roles and responsibilities, she explained why it is imperative for organisations to plan by allocating budgets for investing in data compliance frameworks and by putting together a multi-disciplinary team to ensure data privacy, as a discipline, becomes part of a company’s culture.
 
While Artificial Intelligence (AI) has existed in various forms for nearly three decades now, Mr Kumar said the masses have woken up to its potential with the arrival of Generative AI. He elaborated the way the Industrial Revolution had displaced human muscle power with machines, the same way Gen AI is enabling machines to take over many functions hitherto dependent on human cognitive power. He felt the acceptability of Gen AI as a non-carbon- based ‘employee’ will take some time to gain credibility.
 
The day concluded with the 22nd CFO Awards which is hosted annually to felicitate outstanding performers in the F&A fraternity across the L&T universe, recognising their contributions during the preceding financial year, viz., 2022-23. The initiative also facilitates cross-learning, enabled through the sharing of experiences.
 
The organisers received 88 nominations for the three Contested categories – Young Achiever, General Proficiency, and Best Team. Nominations came from across L&T sites/units/ offices pan-India as well as overseas such as UAE, KSA, etc.
 
The nominations were screened by Mr Arnob Kumar Mondal and Mr Satish Shenoy. Those shortlisted were given a chance to make presentations during the F&A Meet. Delegates present at the event judged the presentations through e-polling, and the winners were announced in the concluding session.
 
Mr Shankar Raman, Mr Parab and Mr Joshi handed over the awards to the winners and merit certificates to the runners-up.
 
There were also Adjudged awards categories.  Heavy Civil Infrastructure and LTIMindtree picked up awards for Excellence in Financial & Management Reporting in projects/ manufacturing and services / concessions domains, respectively.
 
The Minerals & Metals arm secured an award for Excellence in Working Capital & Resource Management, and PT&D snatched the Special Award for Excellence in Reduction of Sediment Bank Guarantees.
 
The coveted CFO Special Award for Functional Leadership was conferred on Mr Shivshankaran S G (Head - Treasury, L&T Construction) for his relentless efforts in reducing working capital intensity. 
 
 
THE 22nd CFO AWARDS
 
YOUNG ACHIEVER
Shortlisted: 
1. Aditya Shah – Defence
2. Harini S – Divisional Corporate (L&T Construction) Indirect Tax
Winner:  Harini S
 
GENERAL PROFICIENCY
Shortlisted:
1. S Dhivyes – Buildings & Factories
2. Balaji N – Transportation Infrastructure
3. Hanumesh C Kumar – Power Transmission & Distribution (PT&D), UAE
Winner:  Hanumesh C Kumar
 
BEST TEAM
Tax
Shortlisted:
1. ‘GST Missile’ – L&T Energy Hydrocarbon
2. ‘Indirect Tax Litigations’ – Infrastructure Vertical
3. ‘Liquidation of Tax Receivables’ – Infrastructure Vertical
Winner: ‘Liquidation of Tax Receivables’ – Infrastructure Vertical
 
Non-Tax:
Shortlisted:
1. ‘Efficient WC Management’ – Minerals & Metals
2. ‘Managing Cash Surplus of Middle East S&A Companies’ – Corporate Finance
3. ‘Value Unlocking - Sale of L&T Mutual Fund Business’ – L&T Finance
Winner:   ‘Value Unlocking - Sale of L&T Mutual Fund Business’ – L&T Finance
 
A distinctive feature of the event was a quizzing session on famous sports personalities conducted by Mr Arnob Mondal and Mr Satish Shenoy. This ensured that there was never a dull moment.
 
Towards the end, Ms Rita Reinboth Ghorpade, a driving force behind the establishment of L&T’s F&A Leadership Development Initiative (LDI), was felicitated. This coincided with her superannuating from L&T after a successful 14-year stint. It’s a testament to the fact that L&T is not just all about balance sheets and cost-benefit analysis, it is a workplace where camaraderie also counts. 

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