Exploring the CFO Trifecta: Finance, Strategy, and Leadership

December 15, 2022 Mimi Torrington

financial leadership meeting in conference room

The CFO role has evolved dramatically over the last twenty years. It's no longer just about finance, accounting, and FP&A, modern CFOs are also strategic partners with decision-making responsibilities. To get a deep understanding of what the profile of a modern CFO looks like, we invited on Kapil Mehta, the CFO and COO of Allied Digital Services. Kapil talks to us about cybersecurity risks, education for CFOs, financial leadership, and the challenges of managing a large team.

Kapil is a certified Chartered Accountant in India, and achieved his CPA, CGMA, and MBA from the United States. Before joining Allied Digital, he worked in the pharmaceuticals, textile, manufacturing and hospitality industries. Kapil has over twenty-five years of experience in business finance, corporate governance, strategic matters, M&A, risk management, measurement and operations, and is passionate about adapting the latest technologies to generate business efficiencies.

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Welcome back to CFO Weekly where we're talking with financial leaders about how to build efficiency in their teams, create time for strategy, and ultimately get results. With your host, Megan Weis? Let's jump right in.

Megan - 00:00:18: Today my guest is Kapil Mehta. Kapil is the CFO and COO of Allied Digital Services, LLC. Based in Southern California. Kapil is a chartered accountant and company secretary from India and a CPA, CGMA, and MBA from the United States. Kapil is passionate about exploring the latest technologies to generate business efficiencies. Before joining Allied Digital, Kapil worked in pharmaceuticals, textile manufacturing, and hospitality. Kapil has over 25 years of experience in business finance, corporate governance, strategic matters, MD&A, risk management, measurement, and operations. Kapil has successfully expanded the ADSL business in various countries around the globe and he has also developed an organizational culture to meet growth and profit objectives. Kapil, thank you very much for joining me on today's episode.

Kapil - 00:01:26: Thank you again.

Megan - 00:01:27: Yeah. Today's topic is the CFO Trifecta of finance, strategy, and leadership and modern CFOs need to be able to excel in and balance all three. And this is such an interesting topic to me and I'm really looking forward to hearing your story. So let's get started.

Kapil - 00:01:43: Sure. My journey started in India in 1993 when I started my chartered accountancy and I wanted to come into a finance and accounting career. So I passed out credit accountancy and then company secretary examinations which are through professional certification in India as very well reputed in India. And then I started working in the hospitality industry for almost two years, textile manufacturing, looking after finance, accounting regulations, taxation, and fundraising, all of these two companies. And then I moved to German Pharmaceutical MC based in Koa, India, and worked there for about seven years and got into the pharmaceutical business Nitty Gritty loan, licensing, manufacturing, and many international related contracts and foreign collaboration agreements. After that I got an opportunity to work where I'm today currently in the IT services business in this business, I'm there since 2010, and managing the 2008 crisis started from there and ensuring that company revenues and the AR remain healthy. It has a cash surplus and also we grow globally. So I'm here and we have expanded successfully into a different part of the globe. We do have offices now in China, Brazil, Japan, Ireland, the UK, and Australia. And these countries are all being well managed from here at a very minimal cost. So that's a little bit of a summary of my career.

Megan - 00:03:39: Yeah. Did you always know that you wanted to go into finance and accounting even like in high school or before?

Kapil - 00:03:46: No, in high school I was a science and mathematics student and my father was a scientist. So initial guidance was that I should do and pursue engineering. But after high school when I appeared in some engineering exams, I realized that this was something not for me and I was not enjoying the area. And that's how I discussed with my parents and told them that I want to do something in the commerce business and then would like to move my line from science, and mathematics to accounting or commerce area because I was not sure I will be going to do a job or business in the future. But I thought that commerce will be a great exposure for me in whatever I do in life. And as I get into my graduation bachelor of Commerce from Sun University in India. And that has given me a very good roadmap. And I started loving subjects such as a business organization, business laws, accounting, and taxation sites. And I decided that I should get a higher education in general accountancy, which is the most prestigious professional qualification in India. And it's very tough to pass because of their very low result of passing percentage. But I could do it successfully on the first attempt. That has given me confidence that I definitely do like this area and would like to continue and bring efficiency to different jobs which I do.

Megan - 00:05:29: Yeah, it's a great degree. I think a lot of college students don't really realize how many different directions you can take with it but it's obviously done you well. Yes and I'm curious so when you decide to expand globally, how do you make the decision as to what geography to go into?

Kapil - 00:05:50: It's somehow dictated by what kind of job offers comes on your road and even though you try to move. So I never expected that I will be in us. I was always planning because I had a great experience working with a German company so I was planning something in Europe. And there is one more reason that is much closer to India. So I can take an old light and reach India back anytime with my parents. But after working with Madaus when there was a possibility, I had two opportunities in my hand. One is to go to Russia to lead a Finnish pharmaceutical company as a business controller and basically supervise around six or seven countries. And then I have another option with this company which was having into crisis in 2008, the subprime crisis. After that, they lost a good amount of revenue as well as accounts receivable and there was a challenge then my brother actually there is one advantage with me my brother works at Microsoft and he came to the US. So the family advised me why don't you come in? The US is the biggest country and you will have tremendous exposure this is the challenge which you may take because that was a difficult part. So why don't you buy it from the challenge? So you should come and take that challenge and then see where you can go from there. And that's what was a collaborative decision I made along with my family to basically take the US offer and take the challenge to turn around the company successfully and I could succeed also. So that's a happy and rewarding moment for me.

Megan - 00:07:42: Absolutely. It sounds like you made the right decision, although it is a very long flight back to India.

Kapil - 00:07:48: Yes.

Megan - 00:07:50: And you've been CFO at Allied Digital Services since 2009, is that correct?

Kapil - 00:07:57: No. I joined Allied Digital Services as Financial Controller. And somewhat in 2013, I've been promoted as Chief Financial Officer.

Megan - 00:08:06: Okay.

Kapil - 00:08:07: And around 2020, June, I've been promoted as Chief Operating Officer.

Megan - 00:08:14: So now you hold both titles, the CFO and COO?

Kapil - 00:08:17: Yes.

Megan - 00:08:18: Okay. And can you talk to us a little bit about this dual role and how it combines finance strategy and leadership?

Kapil - 00:08:26: Yes. So any person who tried to grow into finance and accounting dormant and basically adds a lot of business insight and understanding automatically starts growing into operations. Like the key decision-making in operation and working together with operation teams gives them great mileage. And as you know, the finance department has all the data, all accurate data analytics, and a decision-making system. So finance becomes a core area that gives a lot of direction and decision-making ability to the organization. So who's in a safe role, if he gets deep into operation automatically, this title will flow to them because there are two advantages. That person is also knowing data very well, finances very well, and also operations very well. So decision-making ability of a CFO increases if he is deep into the operation too. So that was a little bit fortunate that I have a lot of like I'm really very curious and always a curious mind. So when I was working with Digital and with a lot of technology leaders in the company, I learned a lot of things from them and they basically added value back from my understanding about the operation as well as financial data, which has, I think, given a lot of benefit to the company. So this is a title that came directly from my chairman and board and who noticed I was never looking forward to having it because I was doing my job elegantly, ensuring that we as a company create efficiencies across the organization as well as to client places where we do serve. And he said, Couple, I really want you to take over this position as you understand, and probably from here you can take the company further on a growth path. And that's what I really appreciate. This was a big surprise and reward for me and I took it gracefully. And I'm still trying to meet obligations under this road for the company.

Megan - 00:10:53: And talk to us about your proudest achievements since joining Allied Digital Services. Maybe it's been in the last two years, maybe long before.

Kapil - 00:11:02: Yes, the proudest achievement which I feel, I don't know what other people might feel, but it's turning around the company, creating a very good base of data and analytics around it, and ensuring that the company remains profitable, whatever the economy is. So even if it's a downward economy or it's a growth-oriented economy, the company should have always surplus cash rules, and always have profits. So made all that systems and internal controls and decision-making systems in a way that we are a very flexible and fast decision-making organization today so we can take any climate, and we can live in it. So that is what I see as a big achievement because it's very difficult and people who live longer in the company can only establish this because they need to go into the deep roots and also ensure the culture which they are trying to drive into the company is good enough to give this kind of result. We establish this culture and culture takes time because people come and go and you have to ensure that onboarding boarding and transitioning and your culture do not get disrupted so your culture remains there and that's how the organization survives.

Megan - 00:12:29: I'm just curious when you came in what were the first few steps you took to turn a business around? How do you go about doing that?

Kapil - 00:12:39: Yes, so I met first of all interviewed most of the leaders in the company to understand their perspective, what are the critical areas, and what are areas where we can have some kind of optimization. Also understanding from different perspectives, from different leaders, and working with the data. And when we joined I see that data was not good enough and data was incorrect and not giving us decision-making ability. So first of all, in parallel, I was doing interviews, secondly, I was working on the data along with my team to ensure that I have the right accurate data to give me some kind of direction for decision-making. That took about six months time frame when we cleaned up all data and accounting data. When I say data, I mean accounting data. Profit and loss account balance sheets at the customer profitability account, much more deep dive where we have issues. So finding out the issues, the problem, and then how we can resolve them, what is the best possible manner we can resolve them, and required patience with many different teams and finalizing how we can come out. So those decisions were made which I figured out and based on those decisions finally we brought the company into a profitable scenario.

Megan - 00:14:16: Well congratulations, it's quite an amazing feat. So you've been CFO now since 2013, how do you think the role has evolved in the time that you've been in that position? I don't think 20 years ago that a CFO and COO would have been the same person.

Kapil - 00:14:38: Yeah. So 20 and 30 years ago, probably more. The concentration of the CFO, in my opinion, was on finance, accounting, FP, and A regulation. And some financial compliances. But nowadays it has evolved into more creating efficiency in the organization. Efficiency is a very area which basically involved in all evolution. It's a technology or maybe HR, or maybe as legal or maybe as an operation so CFO basically needs to ensure that the company remains flexible and has fast decision-making ability through digital transformation as well as having the procedures and processes which can provide you fast decisionmaking by the board or by the director also. Along with that, CFO has a fiduciary duty where they have to meet compliances as well as all regulations which are in place for the Company and ensure that risk mitigation for the company, whether it's the cyber risk or either any other risk which may bring potential damage or financial damage to the company. So I would say it's too many things to talk about. But these are the things that are important nowadays for CFO to look at. It and see that they are well versed in doing something. So I would say CFOs are generic like they are not a specialist in any area but they should have a basic understanding to go into each area and make sure that the company is risk-free or lesser risky and at the same time companies is profitable with a lot of cash approvals. This is the I see as a key area for CFO to concentrate always and if a company has sufficient cash, any kind of risk, better negotiation, cost cutting, everything is possible. So in my terms, I always feel cash is king and accounting is the final code of a business. So as long as your accounting is great. The organization is going to stand correctly. And then if you have sufficient finance in the system, then your blood flow in the organization will be there in every part of the organization. And that will keep organizations surviving. And then as a reason, your brain basically you have to look at it what growth opportunities are there and how we can diversify into business, what new technologies are coming up. So we geared up ourselves by looking next five years and how the market will be behaving, how new technologies will be evolving, and bringing challenges or opportunities for the organization. That is kind of a path that I see in CFO revelation. Where CFO needs to contribute.

Megan - 00:17:51: And for the CFOs out there that are stuck in pure finance roles still, what advice would you have for them to transition into more of a people operations and strategy type leader?

Kapil - 00:18:07: It's getting involved, understanding the business and operation, understanding the different silos in the organization, and also finding out how we can integrate better. So as long as I will not keep myself in the finance and accounting silo and I will see my responsibilities towards the organization and the best interest of the organization. So once that process is established, the person automatically will go into different areas and will bring that capability in him, and slowly he will grow towards that kind of role which is beyond the finance, accounting, and FPA.

Megan - 00:18:49: That's really great advice. And you've been at companies and you've stayed for significant periods of time. So what do you think is the value in really investing years of your life into a company?

Kapil - 00:19:05: Yes, I would say there is one. Our chairman, chairman talks about the era is empowerment, responsibility, and accountability. So I see people working for a company where they get empowerment, a kind of belongingness, not always for the money, money is a critical area, but empowerment, responsibility, and accountability, these three things are very critical for any job. So I enjoy the job, which gives me a lot of empowerment to bring efficiency to an organization where no bureaucratic process basically stops you to perform and provide the efficiencies to the organization. So that kind of organization I really feel that I won't be able to drive the business towards profitable growth and efficiencies and in that scenario, I will be the first person who will be talking to the board to make those changes. If More doesn't do that, then I don't stay. Fortunately, in the companies where I'm working a light Digital, I appreciate the management who has given us a lot of empowerment and also appreciated from time to time what Efficiencies or initiatives the leadership team brings to the board and how we can perform. So that gives a lot of motivation to stay longer with the company as there is some belongingness. So that's why I stayed with Allied Digital and Allied Digital again, as we turn around the company and we also work towards growth and 2019 as we moved to Ireland to access the European market and UK. And in 2020 we moved to Japan, China and Brazil, opened our affiliate subsidiary, and expanded and hired employees in those local areas. So that's all given me a lot of exposure and I really enjoy what I do. So that's why an organization if you are staying longer, you understand the business better, you understand the operations better, you understand the team better. So you can do a lot of wonders there if you are longer associated with an organization to develop the culture, and develop what you think is important for the organization in terms of efficiency and growth along with the other leaders in the organization. So, fortunately, our organization is very flexible and very open-minded, and they are willing to accept ideas from leadership as well as all management layer. And we do have quite a transparent booking system and which allows me to continue and look for company growth. And that's what basically gives me longer than you also the company management when they involve employees and leadership into the shading the profits by ESOPs and by a different kind of a scheme. That's how employees create wealth. And if you are associated with longer-term with those companies and working nicely, you have a better reward system in place. So that is one reason I think I've answered your question.

Megan - 00:22:30: Yeah, you have, absolutely. And it sounds like your role has continually evolved. The one constant seems to be changed. Sounds like a great place to work though.

Kapil - 00:22:43: Yeah, definitely.

Megan - 00:22:44: And you provided financial leadership to companies in diverse industries. You mentioned pharmaceuticals, textiles, hospitality, and now its services. So, what are the common threads, and what are the differences between your role in different sectors, if any?

Kapil - 00:23:02: Yes, so, differences, let's talk about differences first, because of common factors, probably everybody knows as Finance, account, taxation, analytics, data, some kind of insights which we get from common areas. And that common area helps in operations. So, what are my main like my experiences when I was working with the hospitality industry to understand what the hospitality industry is all about, what is their FNB department, how housekeeping work, how their cost has been calculated, how the FNB menu has been crafted, right, how the room occupation happens, what is the travel agent arrangements are? There are so many things to learn about the hospitality industry and how their business core model is, how the business model works. So, unless you know the business model as a CFO, you can't contribute to the organization better. So, my goal was always to work with diverse industries to understand their core business model. When I say core business model means from where they make their revenue, how they make their revenue, what are the key ingredients for that revenue, and what are the cost components, critical cost components. So when we understand that, that this is a methodology to make revenue and operation, and that is different in each industry. So when I talk about pharmaceuticals, it's completely different. There are more regulations and pharmacopeia requirements are there. If I'm supplying in the US I have to have US authorization. If I am supplying in European pharmacopeia regulations, compliance would be required. India? Has India? So a lot of regulations and compliances apply to pharmaceutical sites. Similarly, how manufacturing happens, how basically machine the job process, job order, costing, and many other things involved in the manufacturing industry altogether. And when I was working with textiles, manufacturing is completely different, right? What is yarn, what is fabric, right? How fabrics are made, how fabrics are priced, and how you will buy the fabric from the vendor. Unless you know the critical revenue generation model or operation model, the product and services better, it's difficult to contribute. So as a finance leader, I always considered myself as part of the organization going into deep, having a lot of interviews from different departments and organizations to understand what exactly things happen, how things happen, and how money is coming. In right? And how I can make a profit and what my bottom line looks like that how we can prove it. What are the market and the news available? So, always I looked into these areas to understand finance and account and data analytics. So I can give the right data points to the management for decision-making. So, this is what the common area is, finance, account, taxation, regulation, and data analytics, give some decision-making indications, and then if you know the operation very well, then you can blend them together and give them the best opinion of yours. And then that works. Well. And that's how every industry when you work, you need to have the industry knowledge, you need to have the operation, how they make money.

Megan - 00:26:25: That's really interesting. And when I hear you answer that, and I've heard a lot of great CFOs answer that question, but I'm always reminded of the television show Undercover Boss, are you familiar? Have you ever heard of it?

Kapil - 00:26:38: Yes, definitely. I love that kind of cereal and it gives a lot of insights. And to see that it's not undercover even like if you go and work in that route, like Starbucks, new CEO is going into Starbucks making different coffees and products, right? And looking at each process, how it happens in the Starbucks franchise, it's amazing, right? And that one should do, I would say every CFO should do that too because that's how they will understand and they will work very closely with the CEO towards the growth of the company.

Megan - 00:27:14: Yes. What better way to know your business and your customer than to be out there in the field with the people at the bottom working?

Kapil - 00:27:24: Yes.

Megan - 00:27:25: And I know you've been vocal about the importance of prioritizing cyber security. So can you speak a little bit about this? These days, cyber risks seem like they're everywhere.

Kapil - 00:27:40: Cyber security came into light after the pandemic when attacks increased many folds, even the larger organizations getting compromised in their data and somewhere and all and being cryptocurrency in the market and it's not banned by the government, all hackers were trying to collect money in their crypto ballot. And this was a big issue for many companies and companies who are employing thousands of employees. And immediately this risk comes over and overall reputational damage, many customers go away. If your critical data is out, then you have a lot of lawsuits and cases, and you have to pay for it. So, cybersecurity is one of the riskiest areas these days, which I think the CFO must take into consideration. Traditionally CFOs used to involve in cybersecurity insurance, purchase insurance negotiation, and buying insurances and leaving everything to CIOs and CSOs to decide on cybersecurity strategies. It's no more the only CIO and CSO role because if you see new ESG guidelines which are environment, social, and governance. In the social aspect, It's data privacy is the key part that is heavily influenced by cyber security and the Board of Directors. Even the key management hiring has been having a Kiara on cyber security in the coming days. And SEC has also brought out some regulations about cyber security. CFO has a bigger role. Now, I don't say that CFO needs to get into technologies and understand the technology, but they definitely need to understand the risk profile of their company or organization, how much risk is there, and what is the implementation strategy to mitigate those risk and how they will be ongoing basis managing these risks. And this is very critical because of CFO and CIO. So need to work together and ensure that there is a cyber risk quantification that should be done in black and white and presented to the board. There is certain cybersecurity mitigation plans need to be also approved by the Board and It department. Basically, the CIO and CSO need to ensure in the organization that those plans which have been made and approved by the board there are certain budgets and that money has to be invested. Some critical digital assets need to be identified or information needs to be identified and how that can be secured so CFO needs to be a driver there to ensure that these things happen on a prop and also reported to the board and also ultimately implemented and he also provides the budget according to the requirement. So that's why I see that CFO is a broader home. Because if you go today, cyber Security insurance these days is very expensive insurance. It used to it has gone up by 100% to 100%, depending on what kind of risk profile you have in the last year only. Many companies, like Cyber Security Insurance companies, have denied giving them cyber Security insurance. And if you want to be in business, your customer asks for it, do you have Cyber security insurance or not? So that's why cyber security is one of the subjects which I loved it. I basically learned a lot of things with my colleague here in my company on our technology side as we provide a lot of technology services across many clients. And this is one thing that I see is very close to the financial profession in terms of it requiring a lot of audit and investigation capabilities also, which is there in CFO blood as they are from that core radius. So I think CFO needs to really look at it the subject very carefully and very closely along with CIO and CSO.

Megan - 00:32:18: With the price of the insurance getting so expensive, how do you go about weighing the risk with the price of mitigating the risk and deciding how much is enough security?

Kapil - 00:32:31: Yeah, that's a great question, Megan. And this is a very difficult question. It's not easy and that's why CF would need to participate in these kinds of company discussions that how much is what kind of cost-benefit analysis is and somehow, sometimes you have to take some risks because we cannot be 100% secure. Even if we spend all revenue of the company we cannot say that we are 100% secure. And that's also applicable in our own life. Also whatever house security we use and whatever money we spend still we may feel unsafe and there may be less. There may be some attacks or some kind of thing may possible. So what is good money or what is the benchmark to spend on cyber security? So for that also there is a lot of research and a lot of benchmarking data available in the market is about 12% of Its budget. If you are spending on it, about $12 should go to Cyber Security minimum. It may be ten for some organizations or eight for some organizations. It may be 15 for some organizations, but 12% looks like the most appropriate benchmark. And identifying the right cybersecurity employees or partners is very critical also. So before that, it's a big subject. There are so many things. So cyber responsive is the first thing which is the first step for an organization to look at it. And for that, they can engage like many service providers outside who can do that and also give them that risk profile. So once the risk profile is there, afterward things become much easier. And then you can make an implementation or risk mitigation strategy and in that strategy, you can look at it, what are the particular sets and those you cannot compromise and you would have to invest money for it. And there are certain areas where you can look for how or we need not invest money. I would say dark web monitoring, these are things you can avoid if you talk about zero trust implementation. Zero trust implementation is much for every organization now and still from the current data, it seems that about 50% or 60% of organizations don't have zero trust implementation. It's a very critical area, which is the first step to cybersecurity defense.

Megan - 00:35:10: Thank you for sharing that. That's very helpful. A couple more questions and then we'll wrap it up. But as you look back on your career, how important were your accounting qualifications? You mentioned you're a chartered accountant and you subsequently at some point went back for your MBA, is that correct?

Kapil - 00:35:30: Yes.

Megan - 00:35:31: A lot of people struggle with the decision to do that or not. So talk to us about what role those credentials in your MBA have played in your career.

Kapil - 00:35:42: Yeah, so education is the most important asset in anyone's life. That's what I feel. And I've been taught by my mother that anybody can steal any asset from you, but nobody can steal the knowledge, what you have rights, or experience you have. She always promoted to me that as much as knowledge gathering, study, or education you can do in your life, that's the biggest asset, not the money. And that was built into my own DNA. I always loved reading different books, and magazines, as well as my core area. So when I talk about my charter countenance and company secretary, I would say this was the most critical education for me. Where I am today, how I think, what I do, how I can bring value, or how I think about efficiency. Everything is learned from these qualifications. When I came to the US, I always felt that I'm different geography altogether. Regulations in India and Europe are different than in the US, so I always had the desire to do some local education and that's how I joined CPA from AICPA I completed that, and I. Really felt very good after that, because I learned how the US markets the different company nominations can be, what are the risk rewards, what kind of strategy we can make, what regulations work, and what kind of other philosophy. So most of the things are common. Like, I would say audit and accounting is quite common. What I did in India and here. But the regulations and the business economic environment, the studies about those two subjects US. CPA was very helpful for me. So even though I'm well qualified from an Indian perspective as a company secretary, I strongly feel that CPA has added a lot of information and knowledge, and values for me. And then always I realized that an MBA is right. So I wanted to learn. I was very curious about what is there an MBA educated which I have not basically learned in my CPA and I've seen many jobs requirement also many companies ask for CPA and MBA, very common qualifications. So that's created a kind of accuracy in my mind and I joined NBA and I would say that there are two aspects like there are a couple of books, a couple of areas which probably have never been given attention in my CA, and CPA is the business, marketing and leadership, and communication. So these two things I really enjoyed a lot of things were common for me because I've already done that education but it's kind of a good brush up for my memory. So like economics, accounting, and business laws were quite easy for me to do. But leadership and communication, how leaders think, what leadership styles are, how you can influence the crowd, how you can basically push through some good initiatives, where people basically support you, and how you can get support from people. So everything I learned in my MBA and also the marketing aspect, and I really enjoyed the marketing aspect. I was not sure that I can be so good at marketing and when I was reading marketing and doing some projects for MBA, it was like an eye opener for me. So I would say this qualification and education is unlimited and people should not stop if they can do, they should pursue, they should spend some time every day learning something new that is very very high. And I think whenever I read something new, whenever I do something, I always feel that I'm learning something new.

Megan - 00:39:50: I'm a big believer that people should be lifelong learners.

Kapil - 00:39:54: Yes, I fully support that.

Megan - 00:39:59: Last question but there seems to be no shortage of challenges these days so as a CFO, what's keeping you up at night?

Kapil - 00:40:08: Yes, we manage a large team and we try to put processes, we try to put internal controls in place and we train our team a lot. And sometimes when your team I always have one thing that when I spend a good amount of time with my team and if anybody leaves from the team that's a little bit of risk which I carry on my head really? Sometimes it disturbs my sleep at night because the team is very important. Without a team, I cannot do what I want to do and I cannot contribute well. And the team requires a lot of energy, right? So a lot of time goes into developing the cultural system and everything. So that is only one part that I feel is a little bit challenging. That is how you manage your team well and how you keep them in the processes and everything, how you supervise them, which usually concern but I figured it out, and fortunately, I'm very fortunate enough to have the best team members for the long term with me. They are also working similarly to you as I am in the company. That is one thing that I see as a risk for any CFO. CFO cannot perform unless they have a great team. And a great team is a critical part of CFO success.

Megan - 00:41:46: Yeah. Kapil, you sound like such a wonderful leader.

Kapil - 00:41:49: Thank you.

Megan - 00:41:50: And thank you so much for being my guest today. I really enjoyed speaking with you and hearing about your experiences and all of the resulting insights that have come from those experiences. And I appreciate you taking the time to be here with us today. I wish you and Allied Digital Services all the best as you both continue to grow and evolve. And to all of our listeners, please tune in next week. And until then, take care.

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In this episode, we discuss:

  • How to combine and manage finance, strategy, and leadership roles

  • How has the CFO role evolved over time?

  • Transitioning from finance to operations and strategy roles

  • Financial leadership in various industries

  • The importance of prioritizing cybersecurity

  • Managing a large team to develop a culture for success

  • Cash flow and accounting for business growth opportunities

Key Takeaways

Finance, Strategy, and Leadership

Quote financial strategy and leadership

Kapil was promoted to Chief Financial Officer of Allied Digital Services in 2013, and in 2020 he also became the Chief Operating Officer, combining finance, strategy, and leadership roles. It was possible because finance has the data and decision-making systems to deep dive and understand business operations. When finance professionals learn more about operations, the leadership roles will flow to them automatically.

“Finance becomes a core area that gives direction and decision-making ability to the organization,” Mehta said. - 07:50 - 10:53

How Has Financial Leadership Evolved Over Time?

Quote Kapil Mehta, CFO and COO of Allied Digital Services

Twenty years ago, CFOs were focused on finance, accounting, FP&A and financial compliance. But the role has evolved over time with a need for creating efficiency within the organization, meeting compliance regulations, and mitigating risk for potential financial damage. CFOs should have a basic understanding of each business area and focus on growth opportunities, diversifying into new businesses, and staying up to date with new technologies.

“A CFO has to ensure that the company remains flexible in adopting digital transformation practices and has the processes and thought processes that can provide fast decision-making by the board or the director,” Mehta said. - 14:22 - 17:51

Transitioning From Finance to Operations and Strategy Roles

Quote financial leadership strategy roles

Get involved, understand the business operations and the different silos in the organization, and find out how you can integrate better. If you can go beyond your finance and accounting silo, you will find ways to support your organization.

“If I don't keep myself in the finance and accounting silo, I will see how my responsibilities serve the best interest of the organization. So once that thought process is established, the person will go into different areas and will grow beyond the finance and accounting role,” Mehta said. - 17:51 - 18:50

Financial Leadership in Various Industries

Quote financial leadership in various industries

During his career, Kapil provided financial leadership in diverse industries such as pharmaceuticals, textiles, hospitality, and IT services. Each industry comes with its specific particularities and challenges. Therefore, as a CFO, you have to understand the core business model, including the revenue and operational models.

“Unless you know the business model as a CFO, you can't contribute to the organization better,” Mehta said. - 22:46 - 27:25

The Importance of Prioritizing Cybersecurity

Quote financial team prioritizing cybersecurity

Cybersecurity risks have increased significantly since the pandemic began. CFOs are now taking a more active role in managing their company's cybersecurity strategy due to new ESG guidelines and SEC regulations. Kapil suggests organizations allocate twelve percent of an IT budget to cybersecurity as a benchmark and engage external service providers to conduct a cybersecurity risk analysis. He also highlighted the importance of zero-trust implementation for organizations.

“I don't say that CFOs need to get into and understand the technology. They definitely need to understand the risk profile of their company or organization and the implementation strategy to mitigate cybersecurity risks,” Mehta said. - 27:25 - 35:10

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