A Participative Leader

A 30-year stint at SRF has instilled in its CFO, Anoop Joshi both strong technical skills and the softer aspects of leadership


Anoop Joshi, CFO, SRF

As companies transform for the digital age, Finance teams are coming under significant pressure to add value and take on a deeper business-partnering role within the organisation. The demands that are placed on CFOs will only rise, requiring them to have a greater involvement in stakeholder engagement, as well as to proactively identify and manage new commercial opportunities. To be successful at their roles, Finance Heads need to be skilled in far more than just financial management, delving into communication, business acumen and strategy.

To be a successful leader, you must put ‘people’ issues over and above traditional financial governance responsibilities

As SRF’s CFO, Anoop Joshi’s role encompasses not only the core technical areas, but also the softer aspects of leadership, emotional competency and cultural fit. Highly interactive, social and consensus-oriented are some traits that characterise Mr Joshi, whose 30-year stint at SRF offers insight and learnings for executives in general, and CFOs in specific.

Creative problem-solving

Soon after Mr Joshi took over as CFO, many of his managerial skills were put to the test. Being a multi-business, multi-location entity, SRF had businesses that followed their own practices in terms of such things as payments processing and vendor management. Standardising them required focused action and creative problem-solving, including the creation of a dedicated shared services centre. Getting employees to accept this new concept was a daunting task – but what was even more challenging was to bring about an internal mindset change. Mr Joshi took up the challenge, building a strong business case for the new centre, and securing a buy-in from various stakeholders. Regular discussions and the effective management of people and processes ensured that the centre was soon delivering on expectations. According to Mr Joshi, the key takeaway from this experience is simple, ‘When the heat is on, it is important to remain open to others and adopt a more ‘fluid’ leadership style that tends toward swifter action through alternative solutions.’

Putting people above processes

Mr Joshi believes that to be a successful leader, you need to put ‘people’ issues over and above traditional financial governance responsibilities, and use interpersonal relationships to help employees make better decisions and get ahead. In both internal and external meetings, he is attentive to others, involves everyone in discussions, and promptly responds to feedback. His ‘participative leadership style’ is instrumental in driving active participation, which gives every team member the opportunity to exert skills, creativity and abilities. This makes it possible to discover ‘hidden assets’ that can eventually help the team or organisation grow. Technology to the fore…

Under Mr Joshi’s watch, SRF has built what is truly a technology-enabled Finance function. His focus on systems and governance is stringent, and compliance standards are set very high. What is especially commendable is the firm’s simultaneous adherence to multiple regulatory regimes. Making this possible is a robust, IT-enabled compliance platform, which ensures the continuous monitoring and management of regulatory issues. The platform enables SRF to gain real-time visibility into each department’s compliance with regulations, and to course correct any irregularities. It is constantly updated with new regulations, and a ‘responsibility matrix’ ensures role clarity.

Moving swiftly

An important milestone in Mr Joshi’s journey as CFO was the planning and implementation of GST compliance, which was achieved with only minimal disruption to business operations. This mammoth task involved building a rigorous understanding of the law, overhauling internal processes, and integrating these with the ERP system. As a first step, Mr Joshi set up a periodic review cycle with all of his Business Finance Heads – the so-called ‘Finance Working Group’ – who worked to ensure a seamless transition to the new regime. The Group deliberated on common issues related to policies, systems and processes. In this high-pressure situation, Mr Joshi wore the hat of a ‘task-oriented’ leader who communicated clearly, delegated responsibilities, provided direction, and ensured adherence to set policies. Obtaining stakeholder buy-in and motivating the team were also key tasks high on his list. Going forward, he aims to leverage the full potential of the ERP system, and optimise the cost of the platform.


De-stress mantra

Taking regular, short holidays and visiting new places are Mr Joshi’s mantras for de-stressing. He enjoys the old-world charm, and loves exploring the history and heritage of any city he visits. His bucket list includes travelling to medieval cities and towns, including in Greece and Turkey, and trying adventure sports like sky-diving and snorkelling.

A CFO to look up to

An important milestone for Mr Joshi was the planning and implementation of GST compliance, which was achieved with only minimal disruption

Today, CFOs are responsible for driving business strategy and growth in partnership with the CEO. In that regard, Subbu Subramaniam, CFO of Titan Industries, is a role model that Mr Joshi looks up to. Mr Subramaniam has been instrumental in diversifying Titan Industries from a watch manufacturer to a leader across verticals that now include jewellery and eyewear. What made this possible was his deep focus on all aspects of the business, including customer service, employee engagement, and brand.

Getting inspired

Two books have had a profound impact on Mr Joshi. The first is The Fountainhead, which he believes is one of the most inspiring books in modern American literature. The second is The Alchemist – a book about finding one’s destiny. Apart from literature, Mr Joshi is passionate about music and Urdu poetry, which are both manifested in Mughal-e-Azam – an all-time favourite movie that continues to impress and inspire him.

Career Highlights

Anoop Joshi is a qualified Chartered Accountant and Company Secretary. He has worked with SRF Ltd for over 30 years. Currently, he is the firm’s President, CFO & Company Secretary, and a member of its corporate leadership team. Mr Joshi is also on the advisory Boards/Committees of various charitable and educational institutions supported and/or managed by SRF.