Raj Mullick on Reliance's Ridiculous Ambition & Building a Survival Instinct in Corporate Finance

Episode Description
When the numbers tell a story far beyond the balance sheets, that's when you know you're in for a financial tale spun with the threads of raw experience and insight. In this episode, Ankur Bhageria sits down with Raj Mullick from Reliance Industries, whose legacy spans over two and a half decades, to uncover the rich narrative of a finance virtuoso.

From the thrill of his accidental dive into the finance sector to his pivotal role in business transformation and the intricate world of ESG reporting, Raj's journey is a masterclass in embracing the unexpected twists of a career path with grace and tenacity.

Picture a marathon—the persistence, the sweat, the unyielding ambition. Now, imagine that same endurance in the corporate arena. That's where Raj Mullick shines, drawing parallels between his passion for long-distance running and his meticulous craft in finance management. His stories, ranging from close encounters with personal danger to setting audacious goals in professional life, paint a vivid picture of what it takes to thrive amidst relentless challenges.

This episode celebrates the quiet victory of nurturing hope, pushing boundaries, and the joy of impacting lives positively, with Raj as our guide through the labyrinth of fiscal strategy and cultural ethos.Peering into the crystal ball, what does the future hold for finance controllers? Technology stands at the forefront, redefining the landscape with artificial intelligence and dashboard analytics, and Raj's forecast is clear—adapt or be left behind. As we unpack the evolution of finance roles and the increasing importance of CFOs in the global market, the conversation also takes a personal turn. Balancing the ledger of life, Raj divulges his philosophy of integrating work, family, and fitness, reflecting the essence of a life well managed. Tune in for an episode that's not just about the numbers, but about the profound human stories that shape them.‍

Find an audio version of the podcast below:

Audio Transcript

Raj Mullick: 0:01

I would like to have dinner with our finance minister, Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman. Maybe ask her how would you manage a country like India? And that too so well.

Ankur Bhageria: 0:11

She's the ultimate CFO.

Raj Mullick: 0:11

The ultimate CFO correct.

Ankur Bhageria: 0:21

Action. All right, hey, welcome to our viewers. We at CashFlo are starting our series around inside finance. It's our humble attempt to create a community of finance leaders and bring together the broader finance professionals to learn from stories from, you know, finance leaders like Mr Raj Mullick, who we have here and I'll introduce him shortly. But you know, in my experience I've learned the most from business leaders and entrepreneurs, listening to their stories and their journeys. So this is our little attempt to surface some of these stories of some of the most successful leaders in the Indian finance community. So you know I'm super excited to have Mr Raj Mullick here as part of that. Welcome, Raj.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:19

A quick background about Raj. So Raj has been what? 26 years at Reliance 26 years, that's right, 26 years and he's been so, he currently is a finance controller at Reliance Industries Limited as well as he takes care of overall business transformation and financial analysis.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:42

You know, at Reliance and you know he's been around when, I think it was, I think you started off at IPCL, if I'm not wrong, and 1998, it seems like an era, a very different one. And then in 2002,RIL took over IPCL in one of the largest investments that the country had seen at the time, and I'm guessing you also sort of been witness to the entire transition that happened when Mr Mukesh Ambani took over at Reliance, and I understand that you know Raj looks at y ou know all aspects of finance at Reliance, whether it's mergers and acquisitions, financial planning, taxes and restructuring, business transformation. Interestingly, I understand you're also a marathon runner, which is something that we'd love to learn more about. But yeah, so that's a little bit about Raj. So Raj, thank you so much for taking your time and having you know being with us here at CashFlo.

Raj Mullick: 2:50

It's absolute my pleasure to be here. It's a really honor and I'll enjoy the conversation with you.

Ankur Bhageria: 2:56

Yeah, no, I'm sure, and I think there's so much for us to learn. We would love to just understand a little bit about your role at Reliance. What is it that you do currently, given you know your mandate here at Reliance?

Raj Mullick: 3:10

I was the chief accounts officer of the Reliance group for more than a decade. Last September I was elevated at controller and chief of business performance and financial analysis. So now it's quite a large designation and long one, a long which one, and let me explain you what exactly it means. It means you need to do everything what comes in your way. Okay, so you need to look at accounts, margins, acquisition. Actually, I am the part of the group level leaders of the Reliance industries and as a GLL, as they call, I mean you cannot have a specific portfolio. You're beyond that, actually. So you are a part of the larger group level leaders and whatever problems are there, it will be thrown at you when you are required to work at that and provide solution. That's your job.

Ankur Bhageria: 3:53

So you've pretty much been there, done that, everything there is to see and do in finance, I'm sure over the last 25 years plus. You've seen it.

Raj Mullick: 4:02

Yes, yes, it's an incredible journey. When I look back, I mean, I really feel that when, if, at the beginning, someone told me that you have to go this path, I said, no, this is not my cup of tea. But you know, with the blessings of God and wishes of everyone, I am there wherever I am. And the important thing, you know, there was a lot of slog, a lot of sweat, a lot of blood. It's everywhere. But I enjoyed my journey. That's very important. I enjoyed my journey and I have never been stagnated in my life. Every six months, when I had the habit of turning around and looking, did I move? The answer was emphatic yes, I moved. Some new thing came in my way. Like you will never find a finance professional who is also heading the ESG reporting. So I hate the ESG reporting of the largest corporate of India. And that's a pleasure, because one fine day I was thrown in the presuming pool and say you please swim and I need nothing about ESG. But then I think we managed it.

Ankur Bhageria: 5:01

Yeah, that's fantastic, and I'd love to actually go back in time to when you started off right. How did you get into finance to begin with? Was this something that you dreamed of? Was it something that you planned to do? Tell us a little bit about how it started.

Raj Mullick: 5:18

Well, it's an interesting story. I never dreamed of being in finance. I never dreamed of being a charter accountant. When I was young, my mom used to tell me that you know, I had the habit of breaking things and that made her think that someday the device will become an engineer, because he breaks things and try to see what's inside. And I also started believing that I'll become an engineer. So I come from Kolkata, West Bengal.

Raj Mullick: 5:44

At that time our vision was very narrow. We could never think beyond the state and we had two engineering colleges at Kolkata right, jadavpur and Sipur, and people used to sit for joint exams. So seats were limited, numbers were more, so people could not do. They used to do for BSc course and then they used to appear for next year and do it. I set a target of 24 years to start earning. Everyone believed that I will become, I will pick joint and write it. I also believed. The first day I did the exam. When I came out to the exam hall I told myself beta, this year is gone, you cannot. But unfortunately everyone still believed I will make it. I told them no, I will not make it. They said, no, you will make it. So I thought what to do, because I'll never become, I'll never get admitted in the joint and I'll not can select the merit list.

Raj Mullick: 6:31

So what else? So one of my friend while casually told that I asked them what can we do? Someone said you can do a CA. What is a CA? It does. CA is a fantastic professional, there's a lot of money and a lot of fame, et cetera. I said what do you need to do to CA? He said there's an office in Park Street and I stayed in Central Calcutta, I think it's five, six kilometers. We worked and there was a board where I found this and exam. I took the form, came home and I got.

Ankur Bhageria: 6:56

What the early 90s?

Raj Mullick: 6:58

Yeah, it was 1992. Because 1992, I passed the class table exam. Then joint entrance, yeah.

Ankur Bhageria: 7:06

For reference for everyone.

Raj Mullick: 7:10

Pre internet pre liberalization, you can say yes, pre liberalization in India. See, it was a pure accident. I mean now when I think, when I tell my kids, I tell them how reckless a person can be to decide suddenly to take up a stream which he doesn't know anything about. I tell them to take this example and this is one of the things that they should not follow, they should not do. But you know, I was. I'm fortunate, the stars were in favor of me.

Raj Mullick: 7:41

I went to finance and it was not an easy job. When I went to college, I was out of outcast because I went to Goenka. It was on the premium college of Kolkata and people came from 11 to the study commerce and I was the only one in science. And you know, people said you do, you will me fine. But when the when I appeared for the foundation exam, so very few people could qualify and I did qualify because of my science background, because of maths background, maths was very difficult Most people could not qualify the maths. So then I found that, you know, science has somewhat linked to chartered accountancy. If you have a science background, it helps. So it was by accident. And then I have never turned back. Things have been fine for me.

Ankur Bhageria: 8:18

That's interesting. You say that because so one of the things, one of the people I really look up to, is Steve Jobs. Right back in the day, one of his very famous speeches, steve Jobs, he used to say that you cannot connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking back. Now, you know he took up calligraphy you know, as a as one of the things that he learned during his early years and eventually that helped him and it came to designing the fonts and, you know, the entire design language at Apple and his interest in design grew as a result of him taking up calligraphy. Now it's it's interesting that science actually helped you in chartered accountancy, which is not a very commonly accepted theory, you know, or something that people would typically pursue. So, and when you took up CA, did you feel out of place at the time or, you know, did you start enjoying it or what was it like?

Raj Mullick: 9:16

See, for me it was a battle for survival. Okay, so in my life I had many failures and the biggest failure one of the first biggest failure I had is in class 12 could not qualify in the joint interest exam. So for me it was survival. You have to somehow make it. I still remember I didn't know anything about accounts, so I had to learn two years of accountancy, which people learn in class 11 and 12.

Ankur Bhageria: 9:40

Sorry, the JEE, the IIT JEE, IITJEE. Okay, so you tried for IITJEE. Yeah, yeah.

Raj Mullick: 9:45

So I wanted to become an engineer. So I tried for IIT JEE. I could not click, so then I went to a commerce college so I had only two months time or three months time to cover the entire syllabus of 11 to 11 accounts and the difficult thing was find a teacher who will believe in me to start teaching. But some, with a lot of difficulty, happened, I could manage doing it. And then I mean, for me it was a battle for survival. Either you make it or what else. In fact I come from a family business background. My father had a quite a good big business and a printing press of 50, 60 people employed. So no one at my house was worried. None of my relatives were worried. Everyone thought business hai na, he will go and sit in the business father's chair. I had different plans, so I knew this is a battle for survival for me.

Ankur Bhageria: 10:30

I can see a few parallels, you know, between us. Actually. So, like you're an accidental CA, I got into financial services accidentally myself and I come from a family of CA's. My father expected I would turn into a CA, but I can add different. You know ideas. At the times I took up engineering. I also tried for GE and failed at it. Finally, post engineering, I happened to get into investment banking and then that's how my career began. But you know it's interesting, you, you know sort of. Again, you know at the time you don't know how the dots will connect, but interesting when you look back at all makes sense.

Raj Mullick: 11:12

Not only accident is here, I'm also an accident accountant While doing CA and I clear things quite well. One of the things I decided I will not do I didn't know what I don't do, but one thing I was absolutely sure I don't want to do is take up accounting in my profession. My first interview was in a very deputed group in Kolkata, head office in Kolkata and in the interview, when I told that I don't want to take up accountancy, I mean the interviewer was like what you are telling you first started accountancy, don't like accountancy. I said no, no, I want to start my career in indirect taxes, which I did start, and you know there's something called destiny. Whatever you decide, something which is planned for you happens. And look, I became the chief accounts officer of the largest company of India and I managed it fairly well for a decade. So that's your destiny, nothing else.

Ankur Bhageria: 12:04

Yeah, fantastic. So tell us a little bit about today. What's the typical day like for you, having started with indirect taxes today or heading one of very large functions that lands? So what's your charter like? What is it that you do on a day to day basis?

Raj Mullick: 12:29

Till one year back, I had a very fixed role. I was a chief accounts officer. I had to deliver the results management, discussion, analysis, media and etc. Now, being a controller, there are a few aspects that I look into, but now it's much broader. The spectrum is much broader.

Raj Mullick: 12:46

We have to look into accounts. You have to look into tax. You have to direct taxes, indirect taxes, mergers, acquisition, restructuring everything that comes in the company will somehow fall in your plate and you have to contribute. So it's like more that you have to work with others. You have to be more a facilitator. You have to work with business. That's also why I was doing the other part of chief accounts officer's role. But you more work with business, ensure the business, do well, ensure the business perform, do well. That's why that performance piece is there in my designation. So I work with business to see the performance. I work with the controllers to see the cost control side. I work with the leaders to see the mergers, acquisition and restructuring and I work with the chief accounts officer to ensure that accounting is in place.

Ankur Bhageria: 13:30

And you know, 26 years at the company. Have you ever think that you might want to change your career, change your job? What has kept you at a lens all these years?

Raj Mullick: 13:44

See, frankly speaking, it has been like an exciting journey. It has been a journey with lots and ups and downs. I think a person into IPCL, which is a PSU, and then suddenly asked to move to Bombay in Reliance culture, I was absolutely thrown at sea. I didn't know what to do. It was again survival, question of survival. But one thing that constantly Reliance provided me and I am grateful to this company for that, and they do that for everyone who wants to work challenges Every six months I had a habit of looking back and see whether something new is there in my career, something new I have learned.

Raj Mullick: 14:22

Answer was always emphatic yes . Yes, there was something new that made me going. Reliance is actually not just one organization, it is actually many organizations put together. So when people change jobs, one job to other, they do it because they want new environment, new sort of experiences. In Reliance we have those actually. So I moved from one place to other, from see. I moved from IPCL to Reliance and then managing the entire merger. And not only is financial merger financial part of it. It is a transition, transition from PSU mindset to mindset of largest market leader of India, that private sector. So it was quite different. It was very different actually. Then you have to manage the people around. So I have been doing this. So I never felt that I am not learning. I never felt that I have been struck back. I never felt that I need to change to get something new. This company has provided me everything that I need.

Ankur Bhageria: 15:23

Over these years. I am sure and you mentioned as well that you faced many challenges. You had many failures as well. What would you sort of if you had to think back over these years? What has been your biggest failure, so to speak, and how did you manage that failure? How did you tackle it?

Raj Mullick: 15:47

See, actually, if you tell me that you define yourself in one line, I would like to say that I am a person who has felt millions of times. Starting with you know, in my school life, I always wanted to come first in the class and in our days unlike these days ranks were given from class one. So every class, from every class, from class one onwards, you have three exams and every exam you are ranked with the first, second, third, fourth. So my class has 50 kids, so I tried to until so far, from class one to class 10, so there are around 30 exams, 10 to 3, 30 exams. In 30 exams I could manage to come first only once. So means all the other exams 29 times I failed. I failed to come first, so I came second, third, fourth, I came 15, 20th also. So that is a failure.

Raj Mullick: 16:37

So in my life, my life is full of failures, but one thing I am really proud of myself is that each of the failures taught me something new. Each of the failures did not manage to bog me down. I fell down, that's fine, but I also stood up and I stood up. I stood up becoming a better person, a stronger person, and that's what's really so when failure comes now, yes, I know it's difficult, it's a pain, but you always know that. You know that's rainbow at the end, so we aim for that.

Ankur Bhageria: 17:12

But this is interesting, right. It's obviously easier said than done. That and we all talk about it, that you know what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, in a way. Right, but what? How did it happen? So, when you face failures, what gives you the strength or the energy to actually bounce back and do something even better, like if you dig deeper, right? What's the secret to that?

Raj Mullick: 17:36

Well, there's a story behind it and, if you want, I can share the story. A young kid of class 6 and 7 means 12, 13 years of age, so I'm born and brought up in Kolkata. I keep on telling this of place. I love the place. I really love. So if anyone you are in Kolkata, you know that the central Kolkata is full of lanes and by-lanes. I have brought up in one of those lanes and by-lands and there's a place called College Square which is in the heart of the heart of the central Kolkata and the College Square is known for a big pond, a huge pond, man-made pond, and there are a lot of swimming schools around 2030, which are shallow ponds just next to that and they teach swimming and as a kid, every parent used to teach people.

Raj Mullick: 18:15

I was also sent and the rule is that first you try in a shallow pond and then you start, you're fairly comfortable, you are put into large ponds and under supervision of the instructor. So one day the instructor was not there. One of the seniors was there. He said you are swimming, you are doing quite well. Why don't you jump in the bigger pool? I said oh fine, fantastic. I was excited. He said no, you don't have to jump the entire stretch, you just swim the entire stretch from one corner to the other corner.

Raj Mullick: 18:43

So, with a lot of things, I jumped but I felt something is wrong. I was hardly able to swim, I hardly able to breathe, but somehow I reached at the end. Another cement pillar was there. I touched the pillar and I was about to come up and suddenly my hand slipped. And when my hand slipped I felt I was going down. I could hear some people jumping in the pool, maybe, but I could feel I'm going down Something from inside. I mean, it is very difficult to believe, but I'm telling you something from inside. Tell me that you know this cannot be the end. You have to make one last attempt. I accumulate all my energy and I start jumping up and somehow I reached the top. And then I could place my hand in that cement pillar and someone pulled me out.

Raj Mullick: 19:32

I really don't remember the face of the person who pulled me out, but the incident that when I was on the verge of death, someone pulled me out always is there in my mind. So I think when I looked at it I always felt you know, this is something that is a new learning, and there are many times in my career I felt this is the end. Nothing can happen. I made a blunder, situation is not against me, and every time there was someone who pulled me out, the hand remains same, the face changes. So that is. This is something I look forward to. So whenever you know problem, I keep on doing my best. Look for that pair of hand that will pull me off.

Ankur Bhageria: 20:10

That's amazing. That's an incredible story as well, and when you kind of faced, you know, added near-death experience, I think it gives you a lot of perspective to life in general. That's very interesting, and so let me ask you another question. Right Over the over these years that relies, you've seen many ups and downs. Do you have one really fond memory that you look back to, something that you're really proud of, any such thing?

Raj Mullick: 20:46

Well, it would be difficult one, but let me pick one. See, I always try to make life better for people. That's always been my intention. So when I took over accounts, I became the chief accounts officer, head of accounts. At that point of time the accounts team was organized in a fashion that you know for create for completing a monthly accounts or a quarterly accounts, you have to stay till three, four days in the office. So the first year I took up a challenge that we will complete this annual accounts without staying a single night, spending a single night to office. We'll come at eight or eight, nine o'clock and only leave at 10, 10 PM.

Raj Mullick: 21:22

When I told my team I was a new person, no one believed in me and the thing was that you know, this man will not manage the person before. That is a is like a banyan tree, and when I told this I mean they cannot laugh in front of me, but I sure they laughed at my back. But the interesting thing is that we managed. We only spent only one night at office. That too, before the board meeting, something happened or some. We had to spend, Otherwise we, we were disciplined, we left everyone. I made sure that left home at 10 PM, after having dinner, dinner, at office, and then it go, it went on, it went on.

Raj Mullick: 21:58

Now things are very simple. We have taken digitization, we have planned things so well, so now everything happens. Practically everything is automatically, even quarter. Also, even if you do it on 10, 12, 15, we are ready because we have prepared the organization, prepared the system, prepared the people are all everything is in place. So this is one thing I really proud of, because I feel I could make a difference in the life of people.

Ankur Bhageria: 22:24

And what give you the confidence that you could pull it off. And how did it happen? I mean, what did you change? I'm sure this is not easy.

Raj Mullick: 22:32

See, another one thing my wife tells me and my kids tell me that I am a more a kid than them. So so lot, of, lot of decisions I've taken which my brain told you know it is impossible, why my heart told it is possible. So that is one of the things I can tell you that if you, if you see every situation or such that is actually impossible, but something from inner me told me it is possible. We worked hard I mean, there was no magical wand. We did lot of it to lot of decisions, lot of activities that were done after March, we pre-poned in February. We spoke to the accounting expert, we spoke to auditors and everyone helped me out. It was a team effort, but the fact remains is that we did it.

Ankur Bhageria: 23:14

I mean, it's you know, like I like. I like to call such people like forces of nature, right, you don't, you don't have to weigh your magic wand, but you just, with a sheer force of will, you, you? Somebody needs to start believing it, first of all.

Ankur Bhageria: 23:29

Yeah, that's right Even possible. That's right, because if you know that's the first step, if you're not taking that step, then everything else is pointless. But when you do believe it, and then you can rally the people around, I think that's when magic happens. So that's, you know. That's. That's super interesting. Talk to me a little bit about the culture at Alliance. I mean, given how the company has grown from strength to strength over these years, there has to be something that differentiates the culture at Alliance from, you know, every other company out there. Is there what's? What's your perspective on that?

Raj Mullick: 24:06

See, I'll not be able to comment on the culture of other entities because you know I have never worked outside Reliance, so so I'm handicapped that way. But Reliance, I can tell you that Reliance has a very strong leadership. Reliance have very strong intent. We dare to dream. We, we believe growth is life, right. So when, when people think of setting a plant of 100 metric ton, reliance will set up a plant of one metric ton.

Raj Mullick: 24:30

You see the recent instead of Jio right, no one believed that Jio can have 450 million subscribers in such a small time. No believed Jio can break 100 million subscribers in one year. But we did it. You see, the retail chain, when retail started I mean a lot of analysis etc were thinking that maybe it is difficult to survive in retail. But we are where we were. So because we have a strong leadership, we have strong intent, very strong intent, and we have the execution capability Reliance is known for, you know, execution capability of the projects that we do. We do before time. I mean the world did have not seen such kind of speed we do.

Ankur Bhageria: 25:06

Speed is something that I have actually heard from multiple different places. Speed is something that truly is synonymous with reliance, and we talked about execution capabilities. Of course, it takes a very strong leadership to even attempt this, but often companies who have strong leadership still are not able to pull off post that. So is this something? The DNA across the levels that you have seen? How is it that you know the bid level, for instance? I am sure the junior folks as well. They are pushing through as well. I am sure they are the ones eventually driving impact on ground.

Raj Mullick: 25:45

Yeah, I think you are right. I would like to give a lot of credit to the I mean entire credit to the DNA, the founder chairman, Mukesh Bhai, Mukesh Ambani, our Chairman. Possibly it is my greatest privilege to be in touch with him, to walk with him in some way, to be associated with him and learn a lot from him. So his dreams are mammoth. I mean it is much, much, much, much bigger than even we can think.

Ankur Bhageria: 26:13

Is that what ends up driving the organization forward?

Raj Mullick: 26:17

Of course, yes, his dreams. When you see that person, his size of dreams, and he will make you believe. I mean, after you speak to him, you cannot come out of his room thinking It will not happen. You will come out, even the most difficult thing that it will happen because of the sheer conviction that he has. And that conviction is backed up with a lot of studies, backed up with a lot of execution. That is why it makes Reliance successful. I think the success story of Reliance is, you know, a proper mixture of everything, a proper jelling of conviction, leadership, resources and DNA, of course.

Ankur Bhageria: 26:54

Is there a piece of advice you receive from Mukesh Bhai or anybody that you have really lived by over these years?

Raj Mullick: 27:03

Many times. I mean, I walk with a lot of leaders and you know, I keep on telling them that Reliance is encyclopedia. I keep on learning things from leaders. I have learned from all the leaders I have worked. I have learned something. I mean each of them are different. If you see, each of these leaders are very different. So what I try to do is extract or learn the best from each of these leaders. I mean, whenever I meet a leader or walk with him, I decide these are something that I trust, these are something that is great for the gentleman. Let me try and learn from it. I have been always doing this.

Ankur Bhageria: 27:35

But let's push this thinking a little more right. What's maybe one, two or three things that have really impacted you in your career? Maybe you picked up something from one of the leaders. It could have been a habit, it could have been an advice, anything that you can look back and reflect and say, okay, you know what that actually really changed my own perspective and pushed me forward.

Raj Mullick: 28:03

We end up doing a lot of things that apparently looks impossible. So that is one of the things that I have learned from them. One of the things I have learned from them is that treating your organization as part of family. I mean our leaders. I don't think that they think that their family consists of their spouses and kids or something. I think they believe the entire real-life DNA believes that the entire Reliance Industry is a family. In COVID times. I will not elaborate. I mean this is already in public domain media, etc.

Raj Mullick: 28:33

whatever we have done for employees, only people who believe that entire organization family can do this. Otherwise, people will not do this. We have taken care of practically everything. It is not that we have thrown money at people. We have arranged for hospitalization, we have managed for ambulances, we have managed for doctors. We have seen the crisis. Our people were there standing to help them. So this is what the organization does for people and this is one of the things why people are so loyal for the organization. They believe that it is a part of family.

Raj Mullick: 29:02

I know many mid-time career professionals who come and speak to me. They may have some disgrunt or something. It happens, but if they ask me if I want to leave Reliance, the answer will be emphatically no, because it is a family. Where will I leave it? So this is it. Reliance is more of a family. So I keep on telling young people that if you need to understand Reliance, you need to get the real taste of Reliance. Don't join and leave Reliance a year or so. Work for 3, 4, 5 years and then you will find what Reliance is. Then you will understand what Reliance is.

Ankur Bhageria: 29:34

Wow, that's powerful. But let me you know then the challenge sometimes that can come in such situations is demanding performance from people while also demanding loyalty, like sometimes it's a double-edged sword, Like if you treat everybody like family and let's say, somebody is underperforming for various reasons. What do you do in such cases? Do you take the hard calls? Do you let them continue on? How do you manage that?

Raj Mullick: 30:07

We have a mechanism to take care of that. We have a very good performance management system. We take care of the people, we take care of the performers. So that is there. It is not that we treat everyone as a part of family. It means everyone gets equal pay or everyone the performance is not factored. If performance is not factored, reliance would have not grown so much.

Ankur Bhageria: 30:30

So it's a combination of, like, a really high performance team with the flavour of a family that.

Raj Mullick: 30:34

Correct, that's right High performance team with the flavour of family. I think you got it right.

Ankur Bhageria: 30:38

Fantastic, and talk to me a little bit about your own philosophy around teams and people In your own teams. How do you think about what kind of people should you have there? What do you look for in people when you are hiring them or when you are interviewing them, for instance?

Raj Mullick: 30:59

So when I go to the CA campus, Chartered Accountancy campus or AMVA campus, I tell myself, I mean, this person has passed arguably one of the most difficult exams of the whole world, so he knows his subject. Even if you go to a premium institute, I mean, until you are a high calibre person, you just cannot get it. So I ask very few technical questions. What I need to see is whether their aspirations, their dream, matches with us. For example, I go to a CA campus. I take a bright guy and he tells me I want to become a CFO in three years In Reliance, such a big, mammoth organisation.

Raj Mullick: 31:41

You cannot become a CFO in Reliance. Even if he comes after one year, six months he will leave. So there is a total mismatch of that. So we explain him how Reliance is a company where you have a lot of growth. Your growth path is this Still, if he believes in that, he can join. So when you take a candidate, you have to see whether this candidate is fit for your organisation or not. I see whether that, even if a very brilliant person cannot work with him, they are not team persons. So in Reliance it is very difficult to have at this stage individualistic performance. You need to work in team, part of team, and everything is embedded. You need to do cross-functional activities, people of different backgrounds. So if you don't have that calibre, I think you will fail, even if you are a brilliant person. So when I go to that campus I see whether they cross the threshold or not. That is the only thing I do.

Ankur Bhageria: 32:34

It's hard to figure out. Let's say, somebody is very ambitious and they may well be a team player as well, but how do you actually figure out if, let's say, they will fit into the culture? So you mentioned speed of execution, for instance, as one of the key determinants of success. Do you test for that when you are hiring these people? What are the personality traits that you look for? And then it's hard to test. How do you test these?

Raj Mullick: 33:07

Actually, whatever I tell you, the fact remains. In a span of 15 minutes, 20 minutes, when you are doing person, you end up testing a lot of things, but the inference that you will get will be mostly wrong. That's the fact of life. I see the best of the leaders not only reliance outside the best of the leaders recruiting people and they absolutely fall flat. It's quite different than what they thought. So what I see is whether that person is ready to walk in, ready to walk, ready to be amiable, or he is a very rigid person.

Raj Mullick: 33:41

Suppose a person says I want to walk in direct tax only and nothing else, and I could understand he is made of his mind and is very good in direct tax, Then I see, if I have a role in direct tax, because I will take him in direct tax because then his career growth will be in direct tax.

Raj Mullick: 33:54

But if I am looking for a person who will lead a business, head a business, and I have a person who has decided that walking direct tax, it will not match. If I see a person that, who is not a team player, I will choose possibly not to take him because you know, wherever you are, you have to be a team player these days. If I see a person who is not aligned to digital transformation, who does not believe in the power of digitization, who does not believe in the power of IT, possibly I will not take him, because in my opinion, traditional accounting will be dead after 5 years in India. Everything your AI and other things will get undue. Accountants will not die. The traditional accountants will die. What you do today, our role will be very, very different. So if I see that young guy who is not into that mode, possibly he is not the right candidate. So these are a few things I test and 15 minutes. What can you do on more day?

Ankur Bhageria: 34:47

That's fair. I think nobody can disagree with the fact that we all make hiring mistakes in our careers, sorry. But so let's say you reflect on the team that you had and the people you've seen within the company over time grow. Has there been something that has differentiated the real outperformers versus the average ones? You know, certain traits that have stood out. Was it adaptability? I think you mentioned that they should be team players, right? Was that the only thing, or how would you sort of See, if you want to be successful anywhere.

Raj Mullick: 35:31

One thing team player is important. Your skills with dealing with people is very important. How do you negotiate is very important, but one thing is absolutely important is that your excellence right, excellence. That trait is very important. You've forgotten everything, and if you're not good at your subject, you will obviously not. Chances are that you will not go ahead Per suit of excellence. Per suit of excellence, yes, and I personally believe that you should be a change agent rather than adopt to changes. I have seen the people who are change agents have really done well in life. The chances of their failure is high. They keep on failing, but at the end I think they are really successful People who are adopt to changes. They definitely go up the ladder, but they don't break that shield. I can tell you that.

Ankur Bhageria: 36:23

I love it and it's like it was almost goosebumps for me because I think it's so powerful. Right, the? You know the articulation that you mentioned. It's very easy to take the easy parts, to sort of do what is expected off of you, but being the change agent, like you said, and being ready for failure, I think at some point it starts paying off. So, yeah, that's fantastic.

Ankur Bhageria: 36:49

You talked a little bit about how finance and the role of accountants will change over these years and, of course, technology and digital is very central to everything that's happening in the world right now. What is your view on how you know what will be the skills that will be needed for you know the accounting function, for the finance function, five years from today, especially in context of AI? Because you know, a lot of CAs are emerging from our institute on a yearly basis. A lot of young professionals are in finance and accounting today across companies in India. They'll be listening into this right, so they'd love to know what are the skills that will matter, let's say, five years from today, seven years from today, knowing what we know of technology and how it's progressing.

Raj Mullick: 37:46

One interesting story, you know, when I was studying CA almost I think, two years, I think, for final exam, and I told him that that was a businessman. One day he told me he gave me a lot of numbers, some bills, invoices. He said at that time there was the computers, there was the Excel, that you can do it one second or a millisecond. He said please add this up. I added up, he saw the number. He said wrong. So he said you can never become a good chartered accountant. I said why, you can't add up numbers. So in his mind a CA is a person who could add up numbers, add numbers. So that was the perception. Earlier I met one of my friend's dad, who was a CA in 30s, 40s or 50s. So one of his job was to like add numbers and do things.

Raj Mullick: 38:32

Do you think today, as CA, is required to be a role? No, things have changed, just transformed. So today what we are doing I mean not with any conventional chartered accountant. Still, I went to various forums. I see people still focus on bank credit accountancy, direct tax, indirect tax. So how did the knowledge help? How did you distinguish a person who is good in direct tax and not so good direct tax Because that person knows the case studies. That person knows the rules. That person knows the laws. That person is updated Even yesterday there is a new law, new rule has been announced and he knows it today.

Raj Mullick: 39:04

But it is not required now. It is all over in the fingertips. If you put a case and there is AI will tell you this is good, you go to chat. If you didn't ask something, you will write a vendor paragraph in the note for you. So those skill sets are not required. We require more different skill sets. Accounting professional will not be there, but traditional accountants, my opinion, will be there because we need new skill set.

Raj Mullick: 39:28

You need to understand ESG, because until you have ESG, until you inculcate the ESG mindset in the organization, I think you are going wrong. So today you are in a seat of decision maker and you decide whether you will start up a new plant and after the plant start up, suddenly my ESG emission has gone up doubled and what will be the consequence? So you have to think. At that point of time you can. The organization will think, provided they have the ESG mindset in the entire Delirious TV organization. So that is what a new chartered accountant should have New chartered accountant should think of making life easy.

Raj Mullick: 40:07

I mean, things are automated. They have to see and they have to raise, sit on the podium and see things at a distance whether things are going on fine. They are more controlling and able to control things to dashboard. If you go to a manufacturing plant in your Jamnagar you will see you go to control with huge walls are full of dashboards. The person sitting there can see how the plant is functioning, whether something is happening and if required, you can press a button and switch off that unit. So he is practically preventing an accident. Our role, one of the role of chartered accountant with that to ensure that accident does not happen, that is the controller role, not the traditional controller role of managing petty cash. So things have changed and things are transforming and if we do not, I keep on telling, if we are not able to change ourselves, we will not be able to survive.

Ankur Bhageria: 40:56

Is it fair, then, to say that the real skill set, then, is around being able. So analysis and synthesis of information that you see for an accountant becomes far more critical than just being able to, of course, crunch numbers, and technology can do all of that today. So what kind of skill sets should people be investing in, like early accountants? Should they focus more on financial analysis? Should they build skills around business modeling? Should they learn more about business?

Raj Mullick: 41:36

Actually, if you see the syllabus of chartered accountants, that is what we introduced by the institute and I think it is applicable from next year. It has taken care of all these things. They have moved in from that added. A lot of new things have come. There are a lot of electives and I believe in elective paper they are allowed to open book exam also, most of them. I am not very sure, but I have heard that I have to check. The thing is, I have seen the syllabus because the council has consulted me, for while previous syllabus I have given my contribution, I had my contribution, so it is in line with the requirement of industry, because they also know that if they do not change, their members will not be able to survive.

Ankur Bhageria: 42:17

I do believe that eventually, a CFO is the best place to eventually take over as a CEO in companies. So I ideally should understand all the levers that are needed to drive business forward, and I think, in order to be able to do that, you need to start appreciating business, you need to understand, and then, of course, technology is something that you cannot ignore anymore. So, even for that matter, ai and understanding of what AI can do potentially should be part of every curriculum or every sort of learning curve of a CAA, even in the early part of their careers, potentially.

Raj Mullick: 42:59

Yeah, I know, if you do not understand or do not learn early part of your career, when you grow older your learning ability comes down to certain extent. So I think these are the things that should be foundation, foundations actually should learn the beginning of career so it stays throughout your career. When we were chartered accountants, that CFO course were not there. Cfo term was not there. It came later, like so the challenge for chartered accountants is from accounting, pure accounting, to move into CFO role, which is a much broader role. Now the challenge is that is not a challenge. Chartered accountants are being in the CFO role, getting into CFO role. Challenge is something else from CFO to the path from CFO to CEO, where you can take the mantle of the business. That is the challenge for chartered accountants today. So it has changed. We give a CFO is a passing. Now, if you have not become a CEO, well, you have missed the bus, that's it. But now I think you should aspire to be in business, aspire to be a CEO.

Ankur Bhageria: 44:02

And how should a finance professional think about it? So, first of all, my first question would be how has the role of CFO itself changed over the, let's say, the last 5 to 10 years? And the next question would be what is it that a CFO needs to think about in order for them to become a CEO eventually? Any thoughts around this?

Raj Mullick: 44:28

So when the CFO term was, I think, given by the regulator. It was purely thought a person would be good. Or we are looking at controlling accounts, audit and taxation direct and direct taxation then now that I think CFO means a lot of different their investors facing. They are into treasury, they are raising funds, they are into changing the, they are into ESG. I mean I firmly believe the monkey of ESG will ultimately settle at the shoulder of the CFOs and they can run away with it. So lot of CFOs are taken out of the mantle and it will be. I mean, when the organization, lot of people will be stakeholders. But if someone has to lead ESG, I think it has to be the CFO is responsible for creating a mindset in the organization. They are most external facing. They will look at the investors, analyst, they will give comfort to the board and, the most important, they will business partnering. I mean they will partner the business to ensure that the business grow and business performance, monitoring the performance and ensure that performance is optimum.

Ankur Bhageria: 45:34

And when you say partnering with business, what does that really mean? Because you know, historically finance function has been responsible for controls. You know overall planning, budgeting, so on and so forth. But when you say, when you talk about partnering with business, is there something more to it?

Raj Mullick: 45:53

Of course. Yes, I mean today. Today, I think we are in an era where you cannot say that this decision is of finance, this decision is of business, this decision is of technology. In all decisions, finance, business, technology are involved. Human resources are also involved. So you cannot take any decision, correct decision, right decision where all of them, all of us, do not participate.

Raj Mullick: 46:20

So CFO has to come out of that accounting mindset into the business partnering mindset, because whatever the business decides setting up a new plant, shifting a new plant, starting a new product, stopping a stopping a product okay, everywhere the CFO is involved. Whenever they are setting a plant, I think CFO has to be part of that that. What are the plans they are setting? When they are monitoring the plan and when they are seeing some deviation is there and they are not able to meet the plan, the CFO has to be part of the help them right. You know, suppose the way you raise finance has lot to have, will have a lot of impact on the bottom in the business. The CFO has a big role in doing that. How do you manage the working capital? I mean business will do it, but ultimately CFO is the person who will show you the light at the end of the tunnel.

Ankur Bhageria: 47:04

So then, let me ask you this would it make sense for people in the finance function to spend a few years in a business role, come back to finance, sort of move across outside of the finance function as well?

Raj Mullick: 47:17

Of course, yes, of course, yes, yes, so I mean people has to move at different places. People have to move into business role to appreciate business. You know, it is not important that you understand or not. It is important the perception about you that people believe that you will understand or not. When, once you walk in business in part of the business team, they will know well this man understands the pain and they will help us and that makes the world of good.

Ankur Bhageria: 47:43

That also means business leaders need to be able to trust that a person from of the finance function can drive certain parts of the business as well.

Raj Mullick: 47:52

As long as you create a wall, that trust will not come. You break the wall and see water will flow from both sides.

Ankur Bhageria: 47:58

It goes back to taking chances and yeah, that's right, yeah.

Raj Mullick: 48:02

Being agents of. In our organization you have a lot of CFOs who are in the business role and who are doing fantastically well. There are a lot of, a lot of started accountants who are in senior roles of business CEOs and they are to a trendsetter in the industry. They are their examples.

Ankur Bhageria: 48:20

Talk to me a bit about the. You know the role that finance sorry, the role that technology has played in finance function and reliance. You know, I gather you are, of course, a big firm believer of technology and how it can transform businesses. What's your view of how technology will change the finance function more broadly and specifically at reliance? How has it changed the finance function?

Raj Mullick: 48:47

\Well. I'll give you only one example. When COVID happened, we at this iPerson believed that we cannot operate until we go to office Officers like our Makka Madina and whatever you say which is like we have to go to office to work, and suddenly everything our chairman said one day human life is more important than anything else. From this, within two, three days, you have to stop work coming to office. Do it at home. In the period of one one-half years, we did work from home and 100% work from home. We did one of the largest rise issue of India. We raised one of the largest funds in the history of India. We had almost one, eight, five or six quarters and one entire annual audit being done sitting at home.

Raj Mullick: 49:34

I have never visited auditors. Neither auditors came and visited me. Everything was done virtually. So this is possible only because of the IT bandwidth and IT backbone that we have. Many organizations were forced to call people because they did not have that IT bandwidth, the IT backbone we had. So which is possible for us? Otherwise it was not possible. So IT plays a very important role in finance. I mean we to extend possible. I mean I personally believe that if we have to compare industries in India as far as IT competencies concern or stage of IT development concern, we will be rated very high, if not first very, very high, maybe first also and other, but we are still not happy with that Today. Also, we are keep on improving. I mean, there are so many projects going on to further go ahead in life.

Ankur Bhageria: 50:27

But in all of these IT projects, I think one of the things I've seen as finance as a function typically does not get enough priority when it comes to IT budgets. How does, where does finance it in the pecking order of digitization transformation?

Raj Mullick: 50:44

No, I think in today's world you do not have business and finance different I'll tell you. Suppose in business you have to process some invoices, whether it's a business or finance. One people can have processing we invest in making payment finance. Other will say that business will not operate without that. So I think there is very little distinction between a business and finance.

Ankur Bhageria: 51:07

And in your view you know, among all the various projects that are finance, like a CFO or a finance controller takes up where does digitization and technology sit in your order of priority?

Raj Mullick: 51:23

Yeah, digitization technology is very important. We have a separate team, we have a separate leader with response, where our leadership entire leadership team very keenly looks into digitization technology. And the important thing, which I really love, and I think that makes a difference they're open to everything. If you heard of new technology, they will never say no, no, we have a lot we'll not need. They will always bring that. See let's see less test whether it's good for us or not. So their appetite of, you know, going new technology, trying and going new technology, the appetite of having new things, and their vision is like they're always thinking 20 years ahead than all of us.

Ankur Bhageria: 52:03

I see that's the other thing, right, can you actually look at not just the next few years but, you know, five years out, 10 years out? I think you end up taking the different, you end up taking very different decisions when you change the time span over which you're evaluating. So if you, the moment you look at, okay, 10 years out, how will the world be?

Raj Mullick: 52:24

The decision that you take today my end up being very different Versus if you're optimizing for just the next one year, two years, and secondly, when Reliance few years back, we had the one of the largest business transformation projects in the whole world that very few company would have the appetite of taking up such a project. It's a business transformation. It's the way we do business, Changing the way we do business. So we had that project few years back and it was a very big project. We got all the best consultants we have our best resources put into and then we had operating models. We had our RMS Reliance Management System in place. So a lot of things are there which are not possible in the surface, but that accounts, or that is the reason for Reliance success.

Ankur Bhageria: 53:12

Interesting. And so if I were to ask you and then let's zoom out a little bit about you know, and look at Beyond Reliance, if you just look at India and India's next decade or so, what are you most excited about looking forward?

Raj Mullick: 53:33

So if you see the Malthus curve, I mean countries like Japan, us, europe are having a lot of EJ population. Where is India's population in 20s? So obviously and Africa is around, I don't think, I think below 20, 19, something like average population. So obviously growth will be here because we are more, we are having more population, we will walk and we will generate revenue and obviously help in growth of the GDP. That is very, very important. One of the great things about the Indians is that I believe Indians are really hard workers. Wherever you go across the world you will find an Indian doing a lot of work. I mean, they can sacrifice the weekend and they can do a lot of things.

Raj Mullick: 54:12

A very interesting conversation was led by Mr Murti, Narayan Murti few a months back, a few weeks back, on this. So I think India is in the growth path, that the way that GDP is growing. This quarter GDP surprised everyone. Everyone beginning of the year, six percent. People will be skeptical. People say six percent, but now I think everyone wholeheartedly at telling it is around 6.5, more than that. See what Q3 and Q4 numbers. India is growing. We have a strong leadership here in India. So that is helping the growth. We have the youth, we have the workforce that will, that is there, that will work and bring. So I think, touchwood, we are in a great place at this point of time.

Ankur Bhageria: 54:59

Yeah, anything that you are, anything that you worry about for India's future.

Raj Mullick: 55:06

Really, I was sporadic even sometimes disappoints us. I don't want to mention the sporadic events, that's it. Otherwise, I don't see anywhere in India's future.

Ankur Bhageria: 55:15

What about what's happening in the world around? You know, with all the from a geopolitical standpoint, do you see that more beneficial to India or do you see that potentially having a negative impact?

Raj Mullick: 55:30

It is not right to evaluate those events. You are putting situation whether it's beneficial to India or non-beneficial to India. The question here is whether India will survive or not, and I, my personal, really is a emphatic yes, yes, India will survive. Whether it is Ukraine, whether Israel, what is happening, whether it's China, whatever happening, US, the turmoil that goes on. I think India has the backbone of steel to survive that.

Ankur Bhageria: 55:57

Yeah, that's fantastic, raj. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. So far it's you know I've thoroughly enjoyed the conversation Me too, you know. Moving on from professional topics to you know more personal ones, I'd love to know how do you sort of manage your work and life balance? I know you have a family at home as well, so is it hard to balance and how do you manage that?

Raj Mullick: 56:25

Yeah, actually, frankly speaking, it's like walking on a rope. You have to balance everything the family, your walk, your personal self. Your me also needs some time right. I'm a marathoner. I've run many half-marathons, many 25 kilometers. I'm a badminton player. I have a professional coach who teaches me to play. I run and play in the clubs. But one thing for sure that every morning, if I don't spend one hour, one and a half hours something doing, either badminton or marathon, or going to gym or swimming, whatever be it, I feel my day is incomplete. The day has then day does not start well for me, irrespective of how much work pressure I have. So five or six days, I keep on doing it. It's a difficult thing. It's like balancing many balls, juggling many balls. It's difficult things, but you know, I presume, that if you have to be successful, if you have to be a complete person, you have to keep on juggling, otherwise there's no way out.

Ankur Bhageria: 57:22

And like what's your like? How many hours a week are you? Do you end up working by default? You know what's your typical average like.

Raj Mullick: 57:34

So if I tell the truth, people will feel that I'm sitting with a bad example.

Ankur Bhageria: 57:40

You can be honest, it's your life, all right.

Raj Mullick: 57:45

Actually, I don't know, somehow from the early part of career I have never seen walk and life separate. I mean so suppose if I have a wife and my kids, greatest grudge is grievances that wherever we went for the holiday and we do very frequently once or twice a year I've carried my laptop in there. At night when they're sleeping I find one or two hours to respond to the mails or do some things.

Raj Mullick: 58:13

A lot of wives will relate to that, to the situation. So I have never seen it different. I feel that you know it's a responsibility to manage. You cannot say I have switched off myself. Possibly a lot of people do and that's good for them, good for their personality, but I personally felt it is not possible. So I've never switched off myself from office, never did actually. So I'm always attached to the office and if I switched off they are more turmoil, thinking what is happening there. I'm supposed to deliver that where team is supposed to do that, whether they're doing it or not. Maybe it's my problem, very personal to me, but I always like that.

Ankur Bhageria: 58:47

So that's an interesting take, because my personal view is that you're more than trying to balance the number of hours you work. It's just about having the flexibility to take care of your personal life from time to time, even if it means you need some hours away from work during the day, during the week, if not on the weekend just having that flexibility to manage. You could choose to work seven days a week, but you could choose to work, let's say, only eight hours a day. Or you could choose to do everything between Monday to Friday and switch off on weekends. But that tends to be personal choices. But if you can, it's that whole concept of harmony between work and life.

Raj Mullick: 59:24

Yeah, I think that's right. I mean, flexibility is very important thing that have emerged. People have understood that you give people flexibility and they can do wonders. You allow people to walk at home. You allow people to choose their office time. At time when I was young, there was rigid time that you have to come and punch by 10 and by people used to line up, queue up and then you have to leave by five and people used to queue up. Those things are gone. People come at the wrong time, they need to deliver this many hours and they do it in the week. So that flexibility is there. So I mean you have to balance your life and this flexibility which is now the trend. If you ask a youngster to have a life without flexibility, they'll not agree.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:00:05

True, then what's your weekend like typically? What is it that you end up doing?

Raj Mullick: 1:00:12

I don't remember any weekend, or rather most of the weekends, I have some work to do from office work, some calls are said, something there. But this weekend I take a lot of. I go for long running or badminton or swimming something. So it has lot to do with my personal self. I mean, I am a sports enthusiast. I take a lot of time Weekend, at the time when almost every weekend we go for a movie. Almost every weekend we go for a movie, so we are movie buffs or we go for a restaurant to have food. That is the only thing. So you have a meet a friend or something like that. So those are the mandatory in my weekends. Reading books yeah, I do need to read some books at the weekend, et cetera. Watch TV, netflix, et cetera, everything. So weekend, the family time, apart from a few hours of work.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:01:03

And you talked about your sense of self and spending time cultivating some of these interests, whether it was badminton, whether it's swimming or even running. Again, what made you sort of dedicated towards pursuing some of these things? Is it to do with how you grew up? Is it family? How did this come about?

Raj Mullick: 1:01:30

See, I always seen life as a one-day cricket, like a one-day cricket match. So when I joined, whenever the first chartered accountant joined, I knew everything can come late. Let me focus on my career. Then, after a few years, I got married. I have kids. I told my wife you have to take care of the kids, etc. I am more focused on my work. And she supported. Without her support nothing was possible.

Raj Mullick: 1:02:02

Then, at the age of 40 I think, decided that I was a sports person. In my school, college, I played badminton. I was an athlete also. I ran 100 meters. I used to run in my school. I won a lot of medals for that. So what I am doing now, nothing is not right. Then I started all these things. 40, 42, I started all these things and now I have that touch 50. So things are doing quite well. So I have planned my life that and hopefully next 10 years we will go as per my plan. Till now it is more or less as per my plan, as I thought it should be. Next 10 years we have to see.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:02:38

Moving on to a fun part of our conversation, a little bit of rapid fire, where I will throw some questions that you would love to get your responses on that. Are you ready to do that? Fantastic. Let's start with the first one. What is an app that you can't live without? Whatsapp. By the way, I think the entire India operates on whatsapp today, whether it is a small business man or an industrialist. What is the last book you read?

Raj Mullick: 1:03:12

The Law of Power by Thomas Green.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:03:17

If you could have dinner with any leader, who would it be?

Raj Mullick: 1:03:21

I would like to have dinner with our finance minister, Mrs Nirmala Sitaraman. May we ask her how would you manage a country like India and that is so well? She is the ultimate CFO. The ultimate CFO Correct.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:03:36

What is one quote or mantra that keeps you motivated?

Raj Mullick: 1:03:41

I always look forward to the next step. I keep on telling my kids and everyone who offers me a theme Don't look to climb a mountain, only look forward to the next step. If you put your right in the next step, then you are there.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:03:55

That's good advice. What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Raj Mullick: 1:04:01

Meditate. You are enough now to say in some time, meditating. That's what my boss keeps on telling me. Do you meditate? Well, I tried few times. He has not worked for me, but that is something on my cards. I need to do it.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:04:15

What is the common myth about corporate finance that you would like to debunk?

Raj Mullick: 1:04:21

It is actually simple. It is not rocket science, so be part of it. You will understand that.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:04:27

If you were not in finance, what profession would you be?

Raj Mullick: 1:04:30

Surely I would be an engineer.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:04:33

Not a badminton player.

Raj Mullick: 1:04:35

No, I don't have a physique badminton player.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:04:39

What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new finance controller Taking up a role?

Raj Mullick: 1:04:45

I would say hard luck, guys. You don't have too many precedents. You have to create precedents, so look forward.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:04:51

Fantastic, great. Just some closing thoughts. Raj. When you think about the role of finance controller in particular, what is your view on what it will look like 5 years from today?

Raj Mullick: 1:05:08

First of all, I have started believing that this controller tag will not be there for very long, because no one like to be controlled. So it is. I mean, I mean, ultimately everything boils down to the role of the CFO. As a Chief financial officer, you have to take care of all the ensure all the controls are in place, and when I mean controls, I mean the digitized controls. The other aspects of controls are there. So my piece of advice is I think people should learn to delegate. I mean, the more you go up, you should learn to delegate, because your power of delegation actually will help you to how much you could take a load. Because if you don't have the ability of delegating, you don't have trusting people, you don't have the power or capability of creating leadership, then you yourself will get stuck at some point of time.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:06:00

Yeah, I think that will also help them to zoom out and take it and look at a 30,000 feet view of things and develop that skill. fair. What are the three things we should watch out in the finance space over the coming years?

Raj Mullick: 1:06:18

New concepts like ESG will be very much part of finance that you have to. When finance people have to even they don't want they have to learn that. IT, like Artificial Intelligence etc will play a dominant role. Finance people has to get acquainted to control things, to dashboards.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:06:39

Got it Perfect. Thank you so much, raj. That's a wrap from us. It's been a pleasure having you all here and really appreciate you taking your time. So thank you so much.

Raj Mullick: 1:06:51

Thanks. Thanks a lot. It's always my honor and pleasure to be here. I really enjoyed the conversation, thank you.

Ankur Bhageria: 1:06:56

Awesome, thank you.

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Published on:
Mar 22, 2024
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