Bimal Khandelwal talks about his journey and learnings

Mar 30, 2021
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Finance and I


How Finance and I mix: Finance is the bedrock of any organization; It gives me immense joy and satisfaction to be able to activate the full potential of the organization by being able to maintain 'calm financial waters' at all times.


Being CFO to me means: Value creation, in my opinion, is a reflection of the persistence, passion and dedication of my team and trust in my leadership.


Motto I live by: Press on with pride, press on with purpose; progress and growth needs to be synchronous with immense pride in what we do & a consistent purpose guiding each and everyone.


When I switch any company I would like to be remembered for: Integrity and the ability to build relationships by doing the right thing,


Next pit stop: It still seems that my journey is still young and it has been nothing short of amazing. When the time comes - I am sure that my next role will be as rewarding, enriching and adventurous as this is.


Leadership Mantra: Leadership is not a position or title, it is action and example.


If not a CFO then: Singer / Music Artist


What is my CFO story: Money creates money; I've always believed that the CFO can provide the highest contribution to the organization across all of pillars of business.


 Progress and growth need to be synchronous with immense pride in what we do & a consistent purpose guiding each and everyone.




Another CFO I look up to, why?


Over the years, I have had the privilege to work with many finance leaders; the leaders I look up to the most are the ones who have inspired me everyday like Vikram Mehmi (ExCFO VSNL / Idea Cellular) who embodied the ability to simplify business and was a proponent of the keep it simple stupid concept; further, his ability to drive & execute massive strategic transformation is beyond par excellence.

I am also inspired by Nelson Lim, CFO - STT GDC Global for ability to have an innate clarity of thought and possess the knack of simplifying complex problems.


What leader/mentor do I look up to and why?


Mayank Bathwal, CEO Aditya Birla Health Insurance, for his meticulous & razor-sharp focus on business; not the least, a very keen eye for perfection in value creation.


For the whim of it, one deal in the history of business I wish I had done or been a part of/Why?

The Vodafone Idea Merger, practically one of the most complex business mergers in Indian corporate history involving approximately 430 million telecom subscribers. On paper, the potential for synergy and value generation was incredible - I would have cherished the true test of execution required for the success of such a mammoth deal.


Value creation to me means?


Across the spectrum, I believe that a satisfied customer, an employee with high morale, sustainable growth and the development of market leading technology assets are the biggest indicators of created value.


What have failures taught me?


Learning never stops, as we grow the curve becomes steeper.


From my previous experience, the biggest learning that has remained with me?


Simplification and decluttering processes reduces points of failure in the human value chain and provides an effective mechanism for sustainable growth. Perseverance, faith and commitment towards a consistent strategy is a sure-shot path towards success, there is no shortcut to growth.


One misconception that CFOs have about themselves?


Finance & accounts are not delinked from strategy, the CFO is directly responsible for managing capital allocation strategies and thereby drive strategy.


One responsibility/thing that very few understand about CFO function?


Large Deal Negotiation


What role does spirituality play in my life & leadership?


Spirituality creates the ability to place trust & faith in my team.


In the War Zone


A heroic moment in your professional life:


In 2017, when I had joined STT GDC India we were in the midst of transitioning the entire business operations from Tata Communications. Within less than 8 months we managed to setup E2E business processes, transition IT applications and setup new offices for the company while being on track to grow at 20% per annum. We were at top gear from the day we hit the ground and I became truly a part of this organization thanks to this intense teaming that helped us complete this transition in record time.


What was the toughest decision you had to make in your role as a CFO?


Balancing between business objectives and financial goals of the company vis-à-vis juggling stakeholder expectations


What are the biggest risks that you faced and how did you hedge it?


In 2017 at STT GDC India, we were required to transition from legacy SAP systems to SAP S/4 HANA systems within 5 months and we had the risk of losing support due to expiry of licenses. Hedging this risk was only possible by placing a tremendous amount of faith and trust in our IT function and partners to deliver on this ask, by continuously being hands-on to tackle any issues headfirst and committing to invest in efforts necessary for success of this transition with the larger goal in mind.


Speaking truth to power: What was your experience?


During my early days in Idea, there was a need for aggressive growth across the geographic spread of India; this required tough conversations with various business functions to ensure appropriate investment allocation was performed to support the execution of this growth strategy. However, I have realized that courage to speak up the truth is the only barrier that needs to be overcome, truth and facts will always prevail once presented appropriately.


How do you wish to transform the CFO's role in the future?

To be able to create value for all stakeholders - shareholders, employees, society & customers.


One persistent pressure on CFOs:


It is the inherent responsibility of the CFO to ensure that highest level of ethics and standards are followed in each and every business transaction. Furthermore, the added responsibility to ensure that there are no leakages / frauds within the processes and operational environment; which can cause a detrimental impact to business operations and potentially revenues.


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