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V Ramakrishnan

Economic crises are always challenging times for CFOs. Risks intensify amid revenue and margin pressures. The year-long global pandemic is no exception.

It is in times like these that a digitally savvy chief financial officer can be the chief executive’s key ally in steering a large company through the storm. Exactly what that partnership-in-crisis could and should look like is the topic of my new article in TCS’ most recent edition of Perspectives.

I examine five ways in which CFOs whom I know have stepped up to the plate: monitoring external business risks (for example, litigation); reassuring talent that the ship is steady; re-examining growth initiatives; making forecasts more accurate; and spotting attractive acquisitions.

CFOs can also play a more effective role by making their own function more digital. In my article, I describe how TCS has built an integrated, enterprise-wide, single-instance financial accounting and reporting system. It has enabled us to rapidly spot marketplace and internal issues, often with microscopic granularity, and provide information so that our leaders can make key decisions quickly. One example (you’ll learn more about in the article): Within weeks of the pandemic’s initial shock of confinement, our financial system allowed us to gather results from the 50-plus countries where we operate and report earnings on time.

I also share four key lessons we have learned in building a powerful digital finance function. They touch upon the breadth of the finance value chain, the availability of key performance data, the importance of non-financial metrics such as customer satisfaction, and embedding finance professionals in business units.

You can read much more about this in the latest edition of TCS’s management journal, Perspectives.

About the author

V Ramakrishnan
Ramakrishnan (“Ramki”) was the Chief Financial Officer of Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) from February 2017. Ramki joined TCS Finance in 1999 and served as the Finance Head of TCS North America for 7 years. He closely partnered with business in the rapid growth of TCS’ operations in the region. As CFO, he was driving financial and operational efficiency resulting in sustained industry leading margins, strong cash conversion and effective management of currency exposure and other risks. In his overall professional career of over 39 years; he worked with Tata Motors, Tata Elxsi and in the consumer electronics industry. Ramki is a graduate in commerce and an Illustrious Alumni from Loyola College, Chennai. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, the Institute of Company Secretaries of India and the Institute of Cost Accountants of India. He has also qualified from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, London. Ramki has been recognized as Best CFO – Second Place in the 2018 and Best CFO – First Place in the 2019 All Asia Executive Team surveys by Institutional Investors magazine, which polls over 2,500 investment professionals across 900 financial services’ firms. Dalal Street Investment Journal ranked Ramki as Best CFO in the Large Cap IT Sector, in August 2019. In August 2007, he was member of Performance and Talent Management Consortium at Harvard Business School. Ramki regularly participates in “Tata Business Excellence” (TBEM) as leader / mentor for external assessments of Tata Group Companies and has been recognized as “Star Assessor” for three consecutive years.
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