Arnab Chatterjee

A Lifelong Learner Driving Strategic Decisions with Collaborative Insight

Arnab Chatterjee

Director - Finance,

Gleeds Consulting (India) Private Limited

Data is the lifeline of almost every business, particularly in the complex construction industry, where projects often involve multiple stakeholders, numerous variables, changing conditions, and vast amounts of data that require meticulous analysis to avoid costly delays. Arnab Chatterjee, Director- Finance at Gleeds Consulting (India) Private Limited, steps beyond traditional financial roles by utilising cutting-edge technologies such as data analytics, Power BI etc. He leverages advanced tools to provide insightful data-driven project monitoring, customizable financial reports, accurate forecasting, and trend analysis to control costs, boost revenue, and support informed decision-making.
As the Director of Finance at Gleeds Consulting (India) Private Limited, Arnab brings unique leadership qualities and believes in finding solutions by bringing people together. His career spans over 25 years, focusing on accounting within the construction industry, covering vast projects from real estate to industrial townships and leadership roles, driving financial strategies and managing complex operations. His ability to mentor a diverse team of accountants has been instrumental in building a robust financial framework at Gleeds Consulting (India) Private Limited, a leading multinational project management and cost management consulting firm based in the UK. In his conversation with TradeFlock, Arnab briefly discussed his biggest challenges, his revenue growth strategies, future plans and also shared advice for all aspiring finance professionals. 

What are your most significant career achievements, and how have they shaped your development as a finance leader?

I always aimed to become the Head of Finance of an MNC and now since I have achieved that, I think this is one of my most significant career achievements. When I began in this position, I encountered numerous challenges related to statutory compliance and cash flow management. We achieved a clean balance sheet by addressing these issues effectively over the years. This experience has fundamentally shaped my approach to finance leadership, teaching me the importance of being proactive and adaptable. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we anticipated potential disruptions early on, allowing us to continue disbursing salaries on time and maintain all statutory compliances while working remotely for two years. These experiences have honed my ability to manage and lead through complex situations, reinforcing the value of continuous learning and preparedness in the dynamic field of finance.

What are the key challenges you have faced in finance management within large construction and real estate projects, and how did you address them?

The biggest challenge thrown at me initially was reducing our debtor days, which initially ranged between 120 to 140 days. We successfully lowered this figure to approximately 65-70 days through strategic measures. Our approach involved direct interactions with challenging clients and maintaining regular follow-ups, supported by accurate and timely data reporting. This strategy improved our debtor days and significantly enhanced our overall cash flow. Adherence to compliances and statutory regulations was another challenge that required considerable time as achieving 100% compliance was a rigorous process due to complexities in the construction industry.

Could you elaborate on your methods for enhancing revenue, managing costs, and improving cash flow in complex project settings?

Financial stability and sustained growth are perhaps the most challenging aspects of the construction industry, pressed by everchanging regulations. My experiences at Dodsal E & C Pte Ltd and Sahara Prime City Ltd greatly assisted in enhancing revenue, managing costs, and improving cash flow amid the sector’s fluctuating project timelines and budget uncertainties. Our initial strategy involved diversifying our services across sectors such as real estate, IT, data centres, hospitality, education, airports, and digital platforms. This diversification has led to an average year-on-year revenue increase of 20 to 25%. Regarding cost control, we strategically reduced major expenses by transitioning from physical to virtual meetings, thereby cutting travel costs. Although we prioritise investing in high-quality staff to maintain the standard of our deliverables, implementing strategies to improve cash flow was challenging. We addressed this by maintaining a buffer fund for future contingencies, preparing, and regularly reviewing cash flow budgets, and keeping management informed about potential large expenditures and the need for inflows. This preparation ensures we are wellequipped for various financial scenarios.

How do you mentor a diverse financial team to ensure cohesion and meet organisational goals?

As a leader, I focus on inclusivity and clear communication when mentoring my diverse team of financial professionals. Being a good team player and listener is essential, ensuring each member feels valued and aligned with our organisational goals. I clearly communicate these goals, integrating personal and organisational objectives. I emphasise prioritising the company’s needs over cultural or linguistic differences. My responsibilities include setting clear individual goals and guiding each team member toward achieving them. Additionally, I ensure that decisions from the management board are conveyed clearly and relatably, enabling effective contributions from every team member.

What are your future professional and personal development goals?

Talking about the future, I would continue to learn in finance while maintaining a studentlike approach for ongoing growth. Personally, I focus on daily self-improvement by critically assessing and adjusting my attitude towards work and life. Professionally, I aim to elevate my company to a predefined level by 2025, committing fully to this goal.

What advice would you give to aspiring finance professionals aiming for leadership roles?

With 27 years in finance, I’ve learned that success hinges on openness and a continuous willingness to learn, regardless of seniority. Learning can even come from juniors, but often ego impedes this growth. As a leader today, it is important to be accessible and actively listen to your team, while encouraging their contributions, fostering unity and organisational improvement. Always have a contingency plan ready for unexpected challenges. Young leaders should focus on acting like leaders rather than just becoming one. Prioritise high-payoff tasks and delegate routine ones to juniors. To stay ahead, embrace technology early. The future role of CFOs will increasingly depend on analytical skills over traditional financial management, as modern finance transcends basic accounting.







     







       







         







           







             







               







                 







                   







                     







                       







                         







                           







                             







                               







                                 

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