Ramesh Narayanan

Thriving in the Face of Challenges

Ramesh Narayanan

Asst Vice President, Revenue & Taxation,

Mahanagar Gas Limited, Mumbai

Ramesh Narayanan, an accomplished financial professional with a distinguished career in the oil and energy industry, needs no introduction. Ramesh possesses a wideranging skill set that includes expertise in accounts, finance, banking arrangements, business planning, tax management, Digital Initiatives & implementation, SAP Project leader and management information systems (MIS). He’s not just an expert in his field; he’s a visionary strategist who thrives in the face of challenges.
As the AVP, HOD Revenue & Taxation, Digital Initiative Owner, Mahanagar Gas, Mumbai, Ramesh effectively manages financial planning and forecasting amid economic volatility. He acknowledges the significance of financial planning as the bedrock of sound decisionmaking, recognising that predicting the future with absolute certainty remains a formidable challenge in a market marked by constant fluctuations. In Ramesh’s playbook, the cornerstones of successful financial planning and forecasting are built upon a set of fundamental principles. Swift decisionmaking stands at the forefront, where the timing of choices can be the defining factor between success and catastrophe. Capital expenditure management is another critical aspect, demanding a deep understanding of when and how to allocate resources, all while adhering to rigid timelines and schedules. Effective inventory management is imperative, as it prevents the hindrance of blocked inventory with no output.
He acknowledges that data serves as the linchpin of informed decision-making. Diligently comparing planned goals with achieved outcomes ensures a seamless cash inflow and safeguards the integrity of cash budgets. His expertise extends to budgeting, where the alignment of expenditure budgets with estimated product costs paves the way for future price enhancements.
Ramesh’s professional journey has traversed cash-rich companies where the practice of minimising debt write-offs is a disciplined practice that has led to better cash management. His adeptness also extends to fund flow management through channel financing, democratising access for distributors while streamlining cash flow processes. Leveraging his sales forecasting skills, Ramesh reduces unnecessary stockpiles of finished goods and expertly manages stock dilution, avoiding the pitfalls associated with dead stock.
TradeFlock interviewed him to understand more about his way of functioning and what makes him unique within the industry. 

How do you use financial data and analytics to drive strategic decisions and operational improvements?

Leveraging financial data and analytics is crucial for guiding strategic decisions and operational enhancements. Recognising data as the linchpin, I have employed analytics to discern patterns and facilitate informed choices. Initially, we used QlikView for data analytics, which is particularly beneficial in an industry with a vast customer database. However, due to data duplication issues, we discontinued its use. To refine our approach, we shifted to collecting data at timed intervals, focusing on specific customer categories and ageing buckets. Daily analysis of sales data ensured billing accuracy and identified missed customers. Scrutinising meter reading code enablers improved control. Combining data analysis with proactive follow-up significantly reduced outstanding payments. Our toolkit comprises SAP, Excel, SQL-based queries, and critical thinking, supported by a lean organisational structure, for effective data-driven decisionmaking and operational enhancements.

As a corporate leader, how do you ensure legal and regulatory compliance in your practices?

Thorough understanding of the law helps me prioritise legal and regulatory compliance. We rely on government regulations as clear guidelines, ensuring transparency. In the complex petroleum industry, we navigate various regulations such as PNGRB, RBI, Taxation, and corporate governance. Our approach includes robust internal controls, assigned responsibilities, and regular monitoring, with internal audits to validate our compliance. Tax compliance is critical and tied to performance indicators, fostering teamwork for timely resolution. In legal matters, we focus on understanding the law’s logic, continuously studying, and adapting to changes. We keep internal controls updated and track case laws and legal amendments diligently. Our proactive approach has yielded favourable outcomes, and we are well-prepared for future compliance challenges.

How do you promote transparency and collaboration between finance and other departments to achieve common goals?

Transparency goes hand in hand with collaboration, and in the petroleum and chemical industry, understanding the various domains of work is crucial. My approach has always been to listen carefully to different departmental needs, provide appointments promptly, and ensure that required details are provided in advance. This approach minimises the need for multiple follow-ups and allows for smoother decision-making. Budget ownership is a shared responsibility, and finance’s role is to ensure that money spent translates into value realised. Monitoring progress and presenting comprehensive MIS reports at regular intervals are key to this process. By reducing the trust deficit and valuing the input of colleagues from other departments, we establish a foundation of trust and mutual respect. This approach fosters better coordination and transparency, leading to more successful outcomes.

What strategies do you follow to ensure fare budget allocation?

In the petroleum and chemicals industry, budget allocation is a meticulous two-step process. It begins with initial budgeting at the start of the fiscal year and involves subsequent revisions. To ensure fair budget allocation, I adopt a strategic approach. This involves aligning budgets with the company’s five-year plan, annual targets, and any regulatory mandates. A comprehensive market analysis, considering market potential and the past performance of competitors, informs pragmatic target setting and market share goals. Profitability is a focal point, considering input availability, pricing, procurement capacity, and currency fluctuations. Close collaboration with department heads is crucial, as each department justifies its budget needs to ensure alignment with strategic goals. High-level management’s buy-in is essential, with approval sought for target figures and profit expectations. Flexibility is maintained within the budget for unexpected circumstances while avoiding excessive stretching to prevent frequent revisions. This strategic approach emphasises stakeholder needs, realistic targets, and disciplined budget management.
















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