The winners were chosen from a pool of around 100 companies shortlisted by knowledge partner Deloitte.
Chief financial officers (CFO) often are the unsung heroes — their hard work and competence may be rewarded by their companies but they largely remain unknown to the outside world. It is the CFOs who keep the wheels of the companies running by saving every penny possible and allocating capital where required.
It is to honour and recognise the work of these finance professionals that Financial Express hosts the FE CFO Awards. The third FE CFO Awards will be presented to the winners at a ceremony in Mumbai on Tuesday. HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh will be the chief guest on the occasion.
This time around, a jury headed by former UTI managing director Leo Puri, former HDFC Bank deputy managing director Paresh Sukthankar, Bain Capital managing director Amit Chandra, IndAsia Fund Advisors chairman Pradip Shah and Kedaara Capital founder Manish Kejriwal selected 24 winners.
Picking winners from hundreds of companies isn’t easy. Corporate governance standards, balance sheet management and financial outcomes were among the important parameters that candidates were judged on. The jurors assessed how the companies had managed the cost of capital, and whether they had been criticised by rating agencies.
A CFO who had done a good job despite the CEO having taken bad decisions scored brownie points.
Any CFO who had done even reasonably well at a time when the rest of the players in a sector had not, owing to a downturn in the business cycle, was given special marks. And a company with a steady or rising return on capital employed is always a hit with jurors.
The winning candidates belong to both the manufacturing and services sectors and eight CFOs were picked from each of three categories: Companies with a turnover of up to Rs 2,500 crore, between Rs 2,500 crore and Rs 21,000 crore, and those with a turnover of over Rs 21,000 crore.
The winners were chosen from a pool of around 100 companies shortlisted by knowledge partner Deloitte. The team at Deloitte took several financial parameters into consideration while arriving at the shortlist.
For their part, the jury members used the financial data as the starting point but also took into account many more factors before deciding on the out-standing performances.
The jury was unanimous in selecting Srinivas Phatak, executive director and chief financial officer, Hindustan Unilever, as the CFO of the Year. Phatak oversaw one of the biggest M&A transactions by the company — the acquisition of GSK India’s consumer health foods business — which will give the company significant synergies.
The jury picked Sashi Jagdishan, CFO at HDFC Bank, for the Jury Special award for ably assisting the CEO.
Koushik Chatterjee, executive director and CFO, Tata Steel, takes home the award for lifetime achievement. Under Chatterjee, the company saw its debt pile up after the $12-billion Corus deal in 2006 and subsequent collapse in the steel cycle, but he along with his team successfully managed it through continuous refinancing without the company once breaching covenants.