Former CFO of Tata Global Beverages pens book on business management

Chennai: When it comes to financial management (and tea management!) Anil P Goel knows a lot. After all, he has over three-and-a-half decades of experience across Tata Group companies including that of the Chief Financial Officer of Tata Global Beverages. He has also served on the board of Indian Hotels and was also a Non-Executive Director on the boards of Taj GVK Hotels & Resorts Ltd, Oriental Hotels Ltd, Tata Coffee Ltd, among others. Anil is known for his expertise in business restructuring and change management solutions.

With so many experience bubbling in his mind, Anil decided to pen them down and the result was, ‘Mask Behind the Face’, a book published by NotionPress. In a chat with NewsToday, the veteran CFO shares insights of his book and offers tips for entrepreneurs.

1) How did you start writing your book? What inspired you to pen down about your career?

‘Mask Behind the face’ is an endevour to capture my experiences, thoughts, beliefs and concerns on the current business environment and the challenges facing the corporate world. The idea germinated as I started planning for my retirement. It sprung into my mind one evening when I returned home from work. The narrative is diagnostic, anecdotal and prescriptive at times. Major sections in the book are about my experience, observations and leanings whilst working for Tata Beverages and Indian Hotels. Then I also talk on governance wherein I argue the case of collective responsibility for organisational success with the CFOs, CEOs and the Boards in today’s highly complex markets.

2) Tell us some factors to identify to uplift a poor performing company

Success lies in an organisations ability to decipher the ‘smoke signals’ correctly and act upon the same. In pursuit of profitable growth, market share and sector leadership, measured risks need to be taken to achieve an organisational long term strategic goals. When things go wrong, management needs to make a quick course correction. The remedy lies in an early recognition that we do indeed have a problem, diagnostics, potential solutions, accountability for time bound execution and ongoing monitoring. Also, hope is not a great strategy.

3) Do share some vital management lessons

Take care of your people, respect them and be fair as they all need to feel wanted. A pay cheque can not buy spirit spirit, commitment, loyalty nor dedication . It grows from within an organisation, with time and is dependent upon how successive leaderships treat the rank and file of the organisation. This is illustrated by the unique display of courage and the spirit of service before self by all the staff of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai during the horrific attack of 26/11. Not a single employee left his/her post willingly  though each obviously knew where the nearest out of the multiple exits was. The Taj Group is really blessed on account of the wonderful people who work for that organisation, and that strength is amongst the brand’s USP.

4) Essential financial wisdoms for new entrepreneurs

The long term is nothing but an aggregation of multiple short terms. Thus there can be no disconnect between the two. The biggest mistake an organisation make is to persist with what has worked in the past in blind belief that it will work in the future too. In today’s times, competition and markets can be brutal with overnight switch away from a brand by consumers merely because other options have sprung up. Thus, adequate care needs to be taken to ensure a continuous scan of the environment, look into the future, pre-empt new emerging risks and mitigate them.

5) As CFO, your job involves facing huge responsibilities and obstacles. How did you manage to give your best and stay at top of the game?    

I have always believed that its important for CFOs to have a granular insight of the front end of the business.  This places them in a unique position to gather and place perspectives in front of CEO that other wise may not be visible. A CFO knows where the money is being made and where the margins are lacking and what can be undertaken more cost effectively. CFOs need to keep an eye on future all time and facilitate decision making based upon the probable financial impact on organisation.