In Conversation with Ms. Anjali Bhadbhade (CFO – DHL Express India)
Ms. Anjali Bhadbhade is currently the Chief Financial Officer for DHL Express India, the world’s leading express logistics company. She has over two decades of experience in the Courier and Logistics industry. In her current role, Ms. Bhadbhade is responsible for supporting the business with investment decisions, profitability analysis, taxation, treasury, working capital management and compliance. Her expertise lies in new business set-ups, project management, strategic planning, client relations and retention, budgeting and finance. In 2015, Ms. Bhadbhade was awarded the ‘League of Excellence Award’ at the CFO 100 Forum. She has also been awarded the ‘CFO 100 Innovation Award’ at the CFO 100 Forum, and was conferred with the ‘Women in Leadership Award’ by Bloomberg UTV in 2012.
Here’s a look into her insights being a CFO based on a couple of questions we asked.
1. How do you view the relationship between the HR function and the finance function in terms of workforce re-skilling in this age of digital transformation?
Digital Transformation is change, and people need to be enabled to deal with that change. Employees have to be taken along on the journey. New ways of working and of approaching a challenge have to be learned. I believe that both HR and Finance departments need to work together to achieve a high level of performance and profitability. To drive digital transformation within an organization, it is crucial for business functions like HR and Finance to have the right capacity and data in supporting this endeavor.
In the digital era of rapid change, the pace in which things are done, such as the development of new solutions, has to be increased. All functions need to up-skill their teams, and should be able to follow the current pace in the digital age to grow faster than ever. This will especially require a company culture that is positive, allows room for change, and sees change as an opportunity.
We at DPDHL believe motivated employees contribute to profitable growth, and ‘motivated employees’ is one of our key pillars. It’s well established that skilled and motivated workforce is the most important asset of any organization, though it’s not reflected on the balance sheet. Hence, it is important that finance and HR work together to upskill, strengthen and ensure optimal utilization of this asset to ensure profitable growth.
2. Being a CFO trying to drive digital transformation within your company, what are some of the first steps you took to help make that happen?
At DHL Express, our digitalization approach has three key objectives – technology has to ensure that it enables a great customer experience, a great employee experience and delivers employee/process efficiencies. We are constantly exploring ways in which we can incorporate best IT practices into various aspects within our system. The list of changes effected for driving a digital transformation within is long. To name a few:
- We have developed web services and plug-ins for our online B2C customers for seamless data exchange between the systems
- We also have an electronic payment option for freight and duty invoices for the convenience of our customers and to also support our Finance team to improve collections
- For our account customers, we have an online invoice download option via our Ezybill tool
- Solutions like CSB V and Web-service to help in supporting GST and E-way Bill related data elements for the convenience of our customers and internal operations
3. Has the role of CFO as a risk officer changed?
Yes, owing to the current market volatility and the increased significance of compliance, the role of a CFO has evolved. The CFO needs to now have a 360-degree view of the business. For instance, the CFO is now also expected to play the role of a CRO to ensure the smooth running of the business.
Additionally, considering the impact that both internal and external risks can have on organizations, CFOs are also being looked upon by company leaders for advising on strategic decisions, and acting as business partners.
4. What is your stance on advanced analytics for finance operations to accelerate decision support?
Today, digitalization is crucial for the maintenance of a robust financial system. At DHL Express, while we use various tools and processes to ensure sound financial systems, we will soon turn our focus on more advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. These are currently being studied for feasibility in various functions.
We use advanced analytics for core finance processes in P2P & R2R, at our Shared Service Centers. As it is an evolving field, it needs constant upgrade. Analytics has a huge potential in bringing efficiencies in finance processes as well as early discovery of risks and opportunities, to enable crucial business decisions.
5. What must a CFO do when faced with an ethical dilemma?
It is crucial for CFOs to possess the right knowledge and skills to manage such situations since their decisions profoundly impact businesses.
In today’s business environment, the single biggest risk any business faces is compliance, legal or ethical. As mentioned earlier, CFO also being a CRO can bring a lot of balance of thoughts in any conflicting situation. It is important for businesses to establish and live by the Code of Conduct, set the expectations with all the stakeholders, and the CFO has to drive this from the front.