FE CFO AWARDS: Lifetime achievement- R Shankar Raman- Of risk and rasam

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March 22, 2021 5:15 AM

AN INNINGS OF BALANCE

As someone who loves the outdoors, RSR hasn’t given up on sport; he still plays badminton twice a week and every now and then, runs the half marathon.As someone who loves the outdoors, RSR hasn’t given up on sport; he still plays badminton twice a week and every now and then, runs the half marathon.

As a schoolboy at Padma Seshadri, Chennai, Ramamurthi Shankar Raman dreamt of becoming a cricketer. He played for Tamil Nadu at the sub-junior level finding a place in the team as an all-rounder. But somewhere down the line the focus turns to academics and so commerce took over cricket. As someone who loves the outdoors, RSR hasn’t given up on sport; he still plays badminton twice a week and every now and then, runs the half marathon.

He must stay both fit and sharp because today’s CFO needs to do a lot more than just balance the books or manage cash flows. In this uber-competitive world, he has a seat at the strategy table, anticipates, red-flags and prices risk, endorses ESG, tracks the number of safe man-hours and spurs innovation. He must keep his cool when clients are clamouring for more, not be distracted by the deluge of data and yet predict outcomes over the longer term. At a large diverse conglomerate like Larsen & Toubro, it calls for a state of Sthitapragnya. It’s not just RSR’s acumen or intellect that has helped him deal with the pressures of the job; it’s also his ability to carry people with him.

One wonders what the secret of that calm, collected mind is; possibly a special rasam that he brews on Sundays, a kind of magic potion.

When he first arrived in Bombay, and was living all on his own as a paying guest in Cuffe Parade, RSR took a crash course in cooking from his aunt; even now he rustles up a mean sambar much to the delight of his wife. The secret of staying slim and trim, despite having a sweet tooth and indulging it, is a five kilometer morning walk, every day. That’s topped up with a sprinkling of yoga to take care of the tension. The recipe for Sthitapragnya has a few more ingredients: lots of good light fiction in the nature of Wodehouse. And an eclectic mix of music ranging from Hindustani classical to Hindi film hits to western pop. RSR is a big Lata Mangeshkar fan.

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Since he wasn’t really drawn to either science or medicine, RSR believes he may have turned to journalism had he not stepped into the world of finance. Corporate India must be relieved they hijacked him before that. From Best & Crompton to Lloyds Finance to L&T Finance and L&T, it’s been a tremendous innings.

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