Vipul Agarwal: A Seasoned Finance Doyen With Around Three Decades Of Experience | CEOInsights Vendor
Vipul Agarwal: A Seasoned Finance Doyen With Around Three Decades Of Experience

Vipul Agarwal: A Seasoned Finance Doyen With Around Three Decades Of Experience

Vipul Agarwal,   CFO

Vipul Agarwal


When it comes to finances, every decision holds significance, whether it pertains to an organization or an individual. Today, with the rise of globalization, increasing economic uncertainty, and the evolution of technology, the position of CFO has evolved to include advanced roles in company strategy and innovation. Vipul Agarwal, the CFO of Ecom Express, is also a part of this C-suite spectrum. He is a business finance professional with almost 28 years of work experience with Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Cairn India, Jubilant Group, ICRA (Moody’s) & Ecom Express, serving significant global MNCs, Indian promoters-led companies, PE funded organizations, and listed entities in India and overseas. Let’s delve deeper into his background through the CEO Insights interview snippets.

Tell us about your illustrious professional journey. What motivates you today?
I possess a combination of commercial and business acumen, along with expertise in finance and accounting. My professional journey has encompassed a diverse range of industries, including LNG re-gasification, infrastructure, oil retailing, oil exploration & production, financial services, and currently, e-commerce logistics. Throughout my career, I have consistently offered effective financial leadership, played a pivotal role in team building and recruitment, and nurtured a collaborative and inclusive leadership style. My approach emphasizes identifying value drivers and risks while maintaining a strong commitment to close collaboration with businesses in order to enhance over all business value.

The E-commerce industry is a vast and potentially consumer-driven industry. Ecom Express has created a super strong foundation in this industry and it is time now to scale higher. Being part of the Ecom Express family is a big motivation for me. Coming to the office is always a positive experience. Each day here presents fresh opportunities for learning, which continually fuels my motivation.

Tell us about the uniqueness of Ecom Express.
Ecom Express boasts a history spanning over a decade, fortified by the backing of three private equity investors, adept founders, an accomplished board, skilled CXOs, and a capable leadership team. From a financial perspective, the company has adeptly executed diverse strategies to uphold its standing among its myriad stake holders.

Foremost, a steadfast commitment to sustainable profitability takes precedence, complementing our focus on volume and revenue growth. Additionally, we maintain a profound culture of cost consciousness, coupled with agility in expenditure given the ever evolving industry landscape. Regular reviews of our cost structures ensure a continued emphasis on bottom-line results and operational efficiency.
We have consistently and effectively leveraged internal accruals for the expansion of our business. Our commendable ratio of revenue per unit of capital expenditure stands as a testament to our financial prudence, arguably setting a benchmark within the industry.

Strive to make the right choices. Embrace the principles of control, compliance, & governance as your guiding philosophy

Thirdly, our dedication to upholding a rigorous control and compliance framework underscores our commitment to prudent governance and comprehensive risk management. Furthermore, we recognize this journey as ongoing rather than a finite destination, continuously striving to augment our reputation.

As the Chief Financial Officer of Ecom Express, how do you plan to apply your long professional experience in this domain to add more stars to the company’s profile?
I adhere to a straight forward approach in both my personal and professional life. Firstly, I place a strong emphasis on upholding fundamental organizational hygiene. This encompasses well-defined processes, robust control structures, and frameworks, compliance protocols, authority manuals, risk management policies, governance frameworks, and structures, as well as entity-level controls, among other essential elements. I firmly believe these components are the foundation for any successful business endeavor. Organizations thrive when such fundamentals are firmly in place.

Secondly, my focus lies on aligning with the organization's overarching priorities, vision, and mission. Since different organizations possess distinct priorities, as the CFO of Ecom Express, I am steadfast in keeping our sustainable profitability as a central consideration in every decision I make.

Thirdly, recognizing and understanding stakeholders is paramount. This diverse group includes investors, shareholders, board members, customers, vendors, employees, auditors, regulators, and more. The decision-making process should revolve around the needs and concerns of these stake holders. This approach not only strengthens relationships with them but also aids in their growth and contributes to the company's overall advancement.

In your professional journey so far, which are the milestones that bestowed you with the utmost satisfaction?
After completing my CA and CS, I started my professional journey initially with two smaller Indian organizations and then after three years into my career, I became a part of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, where I engaged in diverse roles during my ten-year tenure. Particularly noteworthy was my appointment as Retail Finance Manager (akin to the Retail CFO role in India) during my final assignment at Shell. This marked a profoundly fulfilling moment, as it marked my inaugural role as a CFO. Subsequently,my entire professional journey, including my present position, has been remarkably gratifying. I am deeply grateful for the blessings in both my personal and professional life.
How do you perceive the changing role of a CFO? What are the latest skills required for a CFO to navigate the technology era?
Today, the role of a CFO encompasses more than just book keeping it extends to being a facilitator of business growth. In an era fueled by technology, the CFO's role encompasses a continuous dual challenge to question and bolster business decisions. The CFO serves as not only a chief financial steward but also an advisory pillar to the board, guiding overall strategy and growth. Simultaneously, the CFO navigates the sphere of an operational leader and strategist, adeptly managing cost efficiencies, propelling revenue growth, and steering organizational sustainability. A profound comprehension of the business is of paramount importance.

While the domains of accounting, financial reporting and controllership are delegated to the team under the CFO, the ultimate accountability and ownership undoubtedly rest with the CFO. Establishing a well suited team is a critical responsibility that falls squarely on their shoulders. Equally essential is their adeptness with keyfigures, trends, and unit economics, allowing them to command insights at their fingertips.

Adept risk assessment, timely identification, and effective stakeholder communication form another indispensable skill set required of every CFO. Equally pivotal is their ability to leverage technology to streamline and enhance business processes. In essence, an agile CFO shoulders numerous responsibilities. They ensure the foundational hygiene of controls and compliance and maintain a vigilant focus on profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and liquidity management. Effective communication with stakeholders, staying updated on regulations, and being flexible in taking part in practical tasks like guiding teams through complex reconciliations add to the many responsibilities of a CFO.

What advice would you give to the upcoming financial leaders in the industry?
Every person in a finance role, whether a manager, leader, or accountant, takes on the responsibility of a fiduciary. It's crucial to never disregard your fiduciary duties and responsibilities.

Do the right things. Control, compliance, and governance should be your mantra. Always focus on doing something extra than your routine job, and always have some value-added projects on your to-do list, whether small or big, that way you will continuously add value to yourself and to your organization.

Vipul Agarwal, CFO, Ecom Express
Having worked with a diverse range of industries, including LNG re-gasification, infrastructure, oil retailing, oil exploration and production, financial services, and e-commerce logistics, he brings to the table functional finance leadership, team recruitment, and development skills. With nearly 28 years of professional experience, he stands as a seasoned business finance professional.

Hobbies: Travelling, spending weekends socializing with friends, tuning into TV news channels, motor cycling
Favorite Movie: ZNMD
Favorite Cuisine: South Indian

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