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plant at Aurangabad, in 1994, to CFO in 2009. At the corporate office in 2000, ... 2006 as Senior Vice President of the Ce- ment Marketing Business, and learned.

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Keeping a Step Ahead

Sunil Jain, CFO (CE & HA division), Videocon Industries Ltd

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merging from a hectic, all-day meeting with the top managements of the three ‘countries’ that Videocon has recently split its consumer electronics business into, CFO (CE and HA division), Sunil Jain wears a pleased look. The meeting was held at the corporate headquarters in Gurgaon, and was vexatious, but ended on a successful note. The period of transition is always difficult. As head of the Transition Committee to facilitate a smooth movement to the new structure, Mr Jain regularly holds review meetings with the three COOs, in addition to the finance heads who report to him functionally. In the new structure, the COOs are tasked with maintaining the top and bottom lines of their respective ‘countries’. They follow a blue book of instructions which he has helped to compile; but new problems keep cropping up. Three months’ ago the new strategy was implemented after identifying three clear geographical areas which constitute the ‘countries’: The Hindispeaking northern belt; the central belt running from Gujarat in the west, past West Bengal to the entire North-East; and the south. “We have already got positive results under the new structure,” says Mr Jain. Each ‘country’ is a complete, self-sufficient whole, and there is no cross-movement of products between them. “We decided to shrink the boundaries of our business to get a better focus of our customers and our brands, and have better margins,” he adds. The company has

46 CFOCONNECT  April 2011

common manufacturing facilities for its multi-brands, and the plants are located across the three ‘countries’, and can provide for them respectively. This removes the high costs of transportation. Also, now each one (‘country’) can concentrate on designing products to suit local customers and tastes. Sitting in the head office, Mr Jain along with the sourcing, marketing, and service heads is responsible for the timely availability of finance, material, new product development, and investment decisions to the three areas. His inherent knack of fixing problems, and ability to take decisions saw him rise from a deputy manager of accounts at the company’s refrigeration plant at Aurangabad, in 1994, to CFO in 2009. At the corporate office in 2000, where he handled treasury and management reporting, he compiled and analysed the MIS data and profitability of the business units, after holding discussions with the respective SBU heads. He recalls how increasingly the promoters encouraged him to take independent business decisions. The business heads too, look to him for answers to problems, and the promoters encouraged him to go and meet the customers, vendors, and dealers to resolve all issues with them. “I have become the problem solver, and have begun to like this image of myself,” he quips. Today, he maintains good relations with the vendors and dealers across the country, and visits them regularly. When the time came for tough decisions, they accepted it as they respected him. For instance, when he implemented controls on account receivables and improved the cash flow. He also improved the payables’ system and all claims are now paid by the seventh day of the month. One of his early contributions was to implement SAP, for the first time in the Videocon group, at the refrigeration plant in 1998. He extended this to all business segments and divisions when he was heading finance in the corporate office in 2000. He then suc-

cessfully synchronised operations of the company’s multi-brands and products which the group undertook in two phases. In the first phase he designed commercial systems; played a key role in determining brand and price positioning; and bringing all the brands under MIS and a uniform accounting system. The brands are all big names in the business – Videocon, Electrolux Kelvinator, Kenstar, Sansui – which it acquired (Videocon and Kenstar are owned by the group) as a strategy to fend off competition from Samsung and LG. “In the consumer electronics industry, this synchronisation was the first such major exercise,” he recalls. He spent a brief two years with Grasim Industries which he joined in 2006 as Senior Vice President of the Cement Marketing Business, and learned fiscal discipline. In 2008, he rejoined as CFO of Videocon’s new DTH venture in Mumbai. It was not long before he found himself back in the company’s consumer electronics business, right at the start of the second phase of synchronisation of its multiple brands. The aim was to bring all the brands and their respective managements under one roof, and the corporate office was shifted to Gurgaon, from Aurangabad. Mr Jain too, came to Gurgaon as head of Corporate Planning in Consumer Durables, and soon became its CFO. Ask him where he sees himself in the not-too-distant future, and he says he will accept the challenge of becoming a CEO, maybe in a smaller division. “The real challenge is when you are responsible for it all,” he adds. He chose not to join his father and brother in their auto parts’ family business back home in Jaipur, but he drives down to meet his parents every two months. His weekends are with his family, sometimes even playing his piano. Music is in the family, his uncle used to sing and play the piano and the harmonium back home. The family likes to travel at least once a year, and this time they are going to Dubai after son Akash’s Class X board exams end. n