Lakshmi Santala Gudla

The Frontier of Financial Risk & Security

Lakshmi Santala Gudla

Director - Head of services - Finance & Risk, SAP Fioneer India,

SAP Fioneer

The sphere of risk and security within the financial services industry stands as a critical stronghold in today’s intricate landscape of finance, technology, and regulatory compliance. This domain has undergone a tectonic shift catalysed by the emergence of AI, digital transformation, and the ever-evolving regulatory framework, demanding a unique blend of innovation and adherence. At the heart of this evolving landscape lies SAP Fioneer India, a key player navigating complex financial technology solutions. Central to their operations is the Finance & Risk division, a sphere where leaders drive initiatives not only to ensure regulatory compliance but also to foster operational efficiency and pioneer innovation.
Lakshmi Santala Gudla, Director and Head of Services for Finance & Risk, India, is central to this role. She embodies over 23 years of multifaceted expertise in the IT domain. Her expansive skill set spans SAP People Management, Business Management, Project Management, Sales, Customer Handling, and Delivery Management, epitomising a comprehensive understanding of the industry’s nuances. Santala’s purview extends beyond traditional roles. As a driving force behind the positioning of SAP Financial Services products on a global scale, she leads financial risk management teams, orchestrating offshore-onsite project deliveries tailored to the industry’s evolving demands.
Her leadership extends into the realm of compliance and risk management, characterised by a proactive and collaborative approach. Santala underscores the vital importance of anticipating and adapting to evolving global regulatory standards. Further, she advocates that robust risk management isn’t just obligatory; it’s a catalyst for operational excellence. In the space of bids and proposals, her adeptness in blending technical acumen with strategic coordination underscores her meticulous approach to crafting proposals aligned with organisational objectives and winnable parameters.
Santala emerges as a visionary leader, navigating the convergence of finance, technology, and compliance—a strategic luminary defining the contours of risk and security within the financial services industry. How does she do it? TradeFlock interviewed her to learn this and more. 

How do AI and digital advancements shape finance and regulatory compliance? Are you adapting for better operations?

With AI and digital transformations advancing, the evolution of finance and risk-regulated compliance is notable. While our clientele primarily comprises banks and insurance organisations, the regulated nature of the FSI industry poses limitations on widespread AI adoption. Though AI holds promise, regulatory approval remains pivotal, thus restricting its current use within this domain. That said, the potential issues that AI may expose for FSI in terms of governance and compliance of large language models for instance will doubtless be resolved, This AI stands poised to significantly impact financial operations, particularly in areas such as commenting on financial reports and aiding in planning. Embracing evolving technology, the financial industry must view risk management not just as a regulatory necessity but also as an avenue for enhanced operational efficiency. In specific scenarios, leveraging advanced AI algorithms and machine learning can automate data collection, albeit within the parameters of ensuring data accuracy, reliability, and repeatability—a crucial facet for digital transformation and regulatory acceptance.

What key challenges do businesses encounter in finance and risk, regulatory compliance management? How do you approach handling them effectively?

Our broad customer base spans regions like Europe, the US, and Asia, each with its own unique regulatory standards. Our approach involves developing both global and localised solutions, ensuring compliance ahead of market changes. Proactively engaging crossfunctional teams aids in holistic compliance understanding. Leveraging a partner ecosystem helps penetrate diverse regions. Our product not only ensures compliance but also enhances productivity and offers a holistic business monitoring platform, transcending the typical view of compliance as a non-ROI activity.

Can you outline your bid manager role and strategic approach to crafting winning proposals?

As a bid manager, my role revolves around strategically orchestrating efforts to craft winning proposals by leveraging a unique blend of technical acumen and project delivery experience. My strong technical proficiency enables me to view deals objectively, discerning them as entities with input and output variables. This perspective facilitates adept requirement gathering for scoping by my team, a critical aspect of the bid manager’s responsibilities. Drawing from my project delivery background, I instinctively identify and mitigate the delivery risks inherent in bids. Past experiences helped me proactively address potential risks as they surface during deal assessments, ensuring a balanced approach to handling the internal delivery aspects of the bid. Familiarity with delivery teams from previous roles, coupled with interactions with diverse delivery partners, streamlined my ability to challenge and refine estimation methodologies effectively. This insight proved invaluable in navigating and optimising delivery processes within bid timelines. Driven by a target-oriented mindset, my primary focus is on the final output within agreed-upon parameters. This emphasis translates into ensuring that bids are aligned with winnable prices or costs, directing efforts towards achieving this crucial objective. The amalgamation of these skills and experiences play a pivotal role in my ability to coordinate and lead winning bids, amalgamating technical insight, risk mitigation, and a steadfast focus on desired outcomes.
















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