CFO of the Year: Saurabh Agrawal – The man who loves numbers

By: |
March 19, 2021 5:10 AM

But only a little. Unscrambling the 100-odd businesses at the $100-billion conglomerate is a never-ending process.

In between buying, selling and merging businesses, Agrawal is trying to create a cohesive unit for defence manufacturing; there’s also the not-so-small matter of allocating resources to the group’s focus areas: digital, consumer and financial services.In between buying, selling and merging businesses, Agrawal is trying to create a cohesive unit for defence manufacturing; there’s also the not-so-small matter of allocating resources to the group’s focus areas: digital, consumer and financial services.

If there’s a tune Saurabh Agrawal’s humming these days it’s the American rapper Future’s ‘Life is good’. The number was at the top of the US charts some time back and is Agrawal’s way of bonding with his two boys. He’s missed out on family time these past few of years with the ThyssenKrupp transaction calling for a lot but with the Tata Teleservices payments having been sorted out and Bhushan Steel a done deal, life is a little less stressful for the Tata Group CFO.

But only a little. Unscrambling the 100-odd businesses at the $100-billion conglomerate is a never-ending process. In between buying, selling and merging businesses, Agrawal is trying to create a cohesive unit for defence manufacturing; there’s also the not-so-small matter of allocating resources to the group’s focus areas: digital, consumer and financial services. By his own admission, he’s never short of ideas, he’s by and large clear about what needs to be done. The tough part is putting these ideas to work and it often means long hours in the office. Although he’s clearly passionate about work he does wish he had a little more time to watch the historical docu-dramas that he loves; The Crown is one of his favourites. It’s also time away from that game of squash and from bridge sessions with wife Shelley and sons Siddharth and Raghav. But he is on track with yoga sessions and squeezes in some badminton when he can.

The travel can be killing but Agrawal makes the most of it especially if he’s in London, his favourite city. For someone who loves being outdoors but is cooped up in office, the morning walks in Hyde Park are a treat. And the flights give him time to catch up on his reading; right now he’s immersed in Steven Strogatz’s Infinite Powers on the magic of calculus. Mathematics has fascinated Agrawal since his schooldays – most of them spent in Dehradun and Delhi Public School – and his passion for numbers remains undiminished. Rather than stay with the family’s printing and publishing business, he chose to do chemical engineering at IIT Roorkee topping it up with post-graduate degree in management from IIM Kolkata. That’s where he discovered his love for rosogollas –which have given him a permanent sweet tooth. But no longer does he crave the traditional Mathura bedmi poori; he’s long traded that for Japanese cuisine.

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