Somnath Biswas

Transforming Organisations Through Strategic Financial Initiatives

RAMANDEEP GILL

Chief Financial Officer,

Vascon Engineers Ltd.

Armed with a bachelor’s degree in science (physics) from the University of Kolkata and the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants, Somnath Biswas embarked on a remarkable journey in the realm of finance. With over 30 years of expertise in strategic and project finance, he excelled in financial planning, controls, restructuring, and fundraising.
For the past 11 years, Somnath has been an influential CFO at Vascon Engineers Ltd., driving the organisation’s growth vision through strategic financial initiatives and process realignment. His strong relationships with banks, financial institutions, and investors have fortified the company’s financial position. At Aamby Valley Project, before Vascon, he made an indelible mark with his proficiency in project funding, private equity deals, financial restructuring, and partnership establishment.
Somnath’s journey is characterised by unwavering dedication, passion, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. His story exemplifies the transformative impact a CFO can have on an organisation’s financial destiny. TradeFlock interviewed Somnath to understand his financial acumen further and learn how he uses it for the benefit of the organisations he has been associated with. 

What challenges have you faced in implementing your financial strategy across organisations?

Fortunately, I haven’t encountered any major challenges in implementing financial strategies thus far. Throughout my tenure, my approach has been to first understand the existing system and strengthen the procedures already in place. Then, based on market needs and the objectives of the organisation, I realign the growth and financial strategies accordingly. I have found that this method is more widely accepted within the system than completely changing the existing processes. However, if a complete revamp is required to achieve organisational objectives, all the pros and cons are collectively discussed, and necessary actions are initiated.

Technology has impacted every aspect of our lives, and nearly all industries embrace innovation. Why does adoption lag innovation in finance?

I disagree with the notion that finance lags in technology adoption. Most leading 10 Best CFOs in India 2023 36 organisations in finance now leverage prudent technological platforms and integrate different software solutions. This allows for tremendous control, reporting, and data analysis across multiple locations, enabling us to track organisational objectives, stay competitive, and implement proactive corrective actions. Although the use of technology may not be as visibly apparent as in marketing or execution, the finance industry has indeed significantly benefited from technological advancements.

How do you use technology to ensure your organisation's quicker and safer financial health?

We use an ERP platform, which provides significant benefits in terms of enormous control, faster and more automated closure processes, management information systems (MIS), audit trails, and compliance. Having a reliable technological platform enhances investor confidence, ensures timely compliance, and facilitates adequate control and reporting with minimal downtime.

What technologies do you use to simplify financial processes and day-to-day operations?

We primarily rely on the SAP platform, which offers tools for asset control, project monitoring, and progress tracking. Additionally, we integrate other software, such as sales and marketing tools, customer relationship management systems, and audit resolution software, to streamline operations and maintain compliance.

Compliance is often overlooked in the construction and real estate industries. As a CFO, how do you ensure your organisation complies with monitoring bodies?

As a listed company on both the BSE and NSE, compliance is a high priority for us, irrespective of the industry we operate in. Our commitment to corporate governance means we give the utmost importance to compliance, and we have a dedicated team that works diligently to meet all compliance requirements within specified timelines.

How do you balance market needs and organisational objectives?

Balancing market conditions and organisational objectives required evaluating the prudence and necessity of financial decisions. Assessing the serviceability of debt is crucial, as unnecessary debt could become burdensome. It is essential to create a proper balance between market conditions and every project’s potential to mitigate its own costs.

How do you foster a culture of innovation within your team?

To foster a culture of innovation, it’s crucial to keep an open mind and question traditional approaches. While finance serves as the gatekeeper of resources and ensures security, it also plays a key role in driving business growth. Balancing cost and time becomes essential, as time is a critical and perishable asset. It’s important to find better alternatives that benefit the company, even if minor compromises are made. Additionally, avoiding excessive bureaucracy and focusing on audit and compliance requirements is necessary.

How did your leadership approach evolve over the years?

I don’t consider myself a leader based on my position alone. Instead, I believe in actively engaging with and understanding my team’s challenges, offering support, and solving problems together. I take responsibility for any mistakes and credit the team for successes. Leadership is more about attitude and gestures than a title or position.

What advice would you give to aspiring CFOs?

Keep the finance function simple. Align it with organisational objectives and focus on a healthy top line and bottom line. Be proactive rather than reactive, and maintain good corporate governance, as it instills confidence in stakeholders and financial institutions.







     







       







         







           







             







               







                 







                   







                     







                       







                         







                           







                             







                               







                                 

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