Ashish Poddar

A Financial Maestro Driving Excellence Through Experience

Ashish Poddar

Chief Financial Officer,

HyFun Foods

From a humble beginning in a small village in Rajasthan to becoming one of India’s top CFOs, Ashish Poddar is an embodiment of perseverance, dedication, and vision. With a career spanning over two decades, Ashish, CFO at HyFun Foods, is a luminary balancing his traditional responsibilities with new age challenges of CFO mandate. He has navigated through the complexities of global finance, steering corporations towards sustainable growth and making an indelible impact on the Indian economy. Join us as we explore the story of a man whose life reads like a blueprint for aspiring finance professionals, a narrative of ambition fuelled by relentless hard work and an unwavering commitment to excellence. In our conversation, we spoke to Ashish about his day-to-day responsibilities, challenges and how he is managing the competing demands of the CFO role in the digital age amidst the wave of geopolitical and economic uncertainties.

Kindly brief us about your professional journey.

Born in a Rajasthan village, raised in Delhi, I graduated from Shri Ram College of Commerce in 1999 and became a chartered accountant in 2001. My career spans 13+ countries, collaborating with global giants like Deloitte, PwC, Accenture, Shell Oil, Rogers Communication, Carrier & Yum Brands. Over the past 12 years, I’ve worked with visionary Indian companies like ANFI, Sentiss Pharma, Optym & HyFun, focusing on continuous learning, adaptability, and ethical practices. Currently as CFO at HyFun Foods, my role is dedicated to driving growth and maximising shareholder value.

In your career, how have your responsibilities varied across industries and the size of the company? Can you highlight some key moments?

The best part of being a CFO is that you’ve to keep changing to succeed in the long term. Thankfully, my journey has given me various opportunities to navigate through multi-functional roles, including assurance, compliance management, financial planning, and strategic planning, across various sectors like Pharma, Manufacturing, and Telecom. Initially, I worked with Audit & Assurance Firms on statutory, tax, and internal audits, before shifting to Management Consulting, where I tackled business problems for industry giants. My role evolved as I became a Strategic Growth Partner for corporations, and for over a decade, I have been working as CFO, focusing on deal negotiation, merger & acquisition, strategic operations, capital budgeting and raising capital to drive growth, efficiency & productivity. A highlight of my career is managing sizable global revenues for diverse organisations such as HyFun Foods at USD $160 million, Optym Group at USD $45 million, and ANFI Group at USD $747 million, among others. These experiences have honed my skills in areas like IFRS, US GAAP, SEBI & NYSE regulations, allowing me to deliver projects in complex multinational environments across continents.

How is the financial space changing in this dynamic market? How do you foresee its future, and how are you preparing for it?

The financial space is rapidly evolving due to technological advancements and shifting market demands, making dynamic financial functions a priority for all businesses. Recognising this, I’ve been focusing on transforming the finance function from a traditional role into a dynamic capability that can quickly adjust to external pressures. This involves creating flexible financial models to anticipate various scenarios, proactively managing risks, and leveraging technology to risk management and automate streamlining processes. By emphasising flexibility, risk management, technological integration, and data utilisation, I have ensured that our finance operations are resilient, efficient, and ready to capitalise on future opportunities. This approach positions us well to thrive in the ever-changing financial landscape.

Why is technology valuable to a CFO and how do you assess that value?

Technology significantly enhances a CFO’s role from traditional budget oversight to a strategic partner in driving organisational change. By integrating automation, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Machine Learning (ML), I’ve streamlined financial processes, freeing up time for strategic activities such as growth & expansion. Integration of various software solutions improves control, reporting, and analysis, helping track objectives and stay competitive. Additionally, advancements in AI, data visualisation, and predictive analytics provide deeper insights into financial data, allowing for informed decision-making and identifying growth opportunities. This shift towards technology adoption not only increases efficiency and agility but also positions companies to lead in tomorrow’s market. Despite concerns about AI replacing human roles, the unique ability of CFOs to analyse and make judgement calls ensures their pivotal role in leveraging technology for strategic advantage.

How do you invest in professional development to prepare for the next role? What personal goals or aspirations are you currently working towards, either within or outside of your career in finance?

Aristotle famously said, “The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know.” This quote sums up my approach to professional development, even after 25 years in the field. I always see myself as a lifelong learner, ready to embrace new knowledge and ideas. I focus on getting better at what I do, aiming to surpass expectations and help my organisation grow. I’m all about working together with everyone involved, trying to make things run smoothly and efficiently. I want to keep up with the latest trends and tech. I’m working on getting my CPA from the US to brush up on my essential skills. Professionally, considering my experience in Fundraising, Business scaling, Strategic and Operational excellence, I aspire to make my current organisation a publicly traded globally listed organisation. I’ve been through the excitement of an IPO before and want to experience that success again. Outside of work, I’m keen on guiding the next generation by sharing my experiences, especially with those from small towns like me. I hope to make it easier for them to figure out their career paths and speed up their journey in the professional world.







     







       







         







           







             







               







                 







                   







                     







                       







                         







                           







                             







                               







                                 

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