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Santanu Choudhury: A Reliable Leader with Strategic Vision

Santanu Choudhury: A Reliable Leader with Strategic Vision

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Santanu Choudhury, CFOAs many would agree cash is king. The finance department is the heart of a business, which identifies the financial necessities of all other departments and pumps the right amount of money to them at right time for ensuring the healthy growth of business. This explains why a reliable CFO with a strategic vision and the clarity to solve the financial challenges is celebrated as the linchpin holding together a business. It is the same qualities that facilitated Santanu Choudhury, CFO, JSW Severfield Structures one of India’s largest Structural Steel Fabricator offering complete Structural Steel Building Solutions, toforge a stellar reputation as a trustworthy leader renowned for prowess in delivering projects successfully and profitably with unswerving passion.

He adeptly leverages his 20+ years of professional experience to ensure significant improvement in working capital, enhanced credit worthiness, funding and overall financial control in the business. Santanu in an exclusive conversation with CEO Insights reminisces about his professional journey and shares about his personal life. Here are the excerpts:

What inspired you to foray into the financial world?
When I kickstarted my career, an accountant’s romance with taxes in India was at its peak. Immersed in numerous circulars, notifications and case laws; apart from the statute itself, we were tasked with providing solutions that would find acceptance with the tax authorities at least more likely than not. The CEO of PwC at that time was residing in the same locality as me; sometimes in the evening he would offer me a lift home and ask me about the latest case laws reported in ITR. I had to come up with
in ITR. I had to come up with summary of important rulings which would impact businesses, and I just thought exams were over! I learnt one invaluable thing from him stay sharp and updated regardless of seniority.

Give us a brief detail about your educational & professional background prior to joining Sever field Structures.
Post my graduation in commerce from St. Xavier’s College and CA & ICWA in 1997, I started my professional journey with E&Y in Kolkata. Working on a mix of consulting and compliance bestowed me with rich experience on a wide range of issues, as I stepped into the managerial side of business. Driven by the hunger to explore the full finance spectrum and be ‘in the business’, I moved to Leighton. Being part of a large global construction conglomerate, Leighton provided an opportunity to work on O&G, Infra and buildings. It was a rapidly growing business no dearth of challenges. After close to seven years in Leighton, I had a brief stint with setting up the India business of UGL prior to joining JSSL.

I had to come up with summary of important rulings which would impact businesses, and I just thought exams were over


What were the initial challenges that taught you the basic lessons of managing the financial functions of large organizations and helped you achieve the success that you had in the later phase?
Having been in the contracting industry for many years, I feel that the challenge is around managing the working capital cycle. The operating cycle for projects at entity level has a massive impact on working capital as well as profitability. While it is always the aim that project receipts should fund project payables, it remains subject to various uncertainties which require relentless focus & action. Identifying early often provides the best chance to provide a timely solution. Similarly, quality of reporting in contracting and an
informed forecast are vital to delivering a successful project. Cost control through systems and process is no less important; to have SOPs is a good thing but enforcement & financial discipline is crucial.

Managing finance means a lot of stress, skill, and time. How do you manage to balance between your personal & professional life?
It is widely believed that accountants are boring people, buried in numbers. Family keeps me rooted and provides purpose and sensibility to life. Managing finance is something that’s embedded deep in my mind. I have been fortunate to have worked for organizations where there has always been space for personal time. May be not optimal but then family always supports and adjusts.

How do you update yourself with the latest industry trends and technologies?
Technology is ever evolving. Many will say measurement is the key to control. Be it production systems or finance systems, the ability to integrate and have a common platform is important. The balance between a customized & specialist system vs an ERP is a challenge.

I am an avid reader. I also try to catch up with flyers from various professional organizations as well as follow ET and money control regularly to keep a tab on the financial landscape.

Tell us about your hobbies, favorite cuisines, and favorite travel destinations.

I like to travel to historical places and places with natural beauty. I have been to many national parks and nothing matches the excitement of seeing the royal Bengal tiger in the wild. Reading and music are also my favourite things to do.

Key Management:
Santanu Choudhury, CFO, JSW Severfield Structures
A trustworthy leader with strategic vision & a strong problem solving ability leveraging his 20+ years of professional experience to ensure significant improvement in working capital, enhanced credit worthiness, funding and overall financial control in the business.