On your top focus areas as CFO
I would say strategize to improve top line and bottom line; strong corporate governance; capital allocation to support growth across our businesses; analytics to provide business insights; and an effective management of working capital.
On key challenges to growth without affecting profit margins
Pricing is a factor of product, competition, and market. In case of government business, which is tender-based, the selection criterion is the quoting of the lowest price. Considering all the factors, it is difficult to change pricing in India. We have worked on productivity of cost structure, adding more features to the products, and localization; this has helped us combat price challenges of the market.
On major risk in medical devices regulation
There is a lot of confusion prevailing over the need for having some proper regulations in the industry – whether to enact separate laws, and their likely impact on industry. Any statute, policy framework, or decision should ensure patient safety. People should get affordable and good-quality medical devices. BPL Medical, being an Indian company, is getting ready for these changes and the government should provide some benefits to Indian companies so that more and more investment comes to the industry by way of R&D, as also price benefit in case of government tenders.
On key growth challenges facing your company
Funding of R&D. Product development is quite time-consuming and costly. Companies should get some relief on taxation or grants at large scale so that local companies are encouraged to develop products not only for India but also for global penetration.
Certifications of products. In the absence of a local regulatory regime, global certifications like CE or USFDA are being followed in India, which favors the MNCs; there should be some relaxation for Indian companies, but not at the cost of patient safety.
Collection from government. This is a big challenge for companies since DSO days on an average across industries are ~200. There are challenges on sites getting ready for installation, fund allocation, no interest being paid to supplier for delays, but LD is deducted for every issue.
On key growth drivers of your company
Distribution channel. We have one of the best channels across industries, which enables us to reach very deep into the Indian market, from metro cities to Tier-IV towns and districts.
Services. Our presence at all places to provide world-class services even to the remotest places directly and through our franchisees has helped us to create customer delight.
Products. We have a wide range of products, and the range is continuously evolving with time; more and more products are being added from cardiology to critical care to radiology to home health, and more.
On skill-sets to be a successful CFO of a company
The CFO plays a vital role in driving business growth and needs to provide financial leadership by aligning business strategy and organizational goals with finance strategy to ensure business growth and enhance value for stakeholders. The CFO needs to be an analytical wizard with strong understanding of business environment so as to provide strategic vision. He must have a flexible and responsive approach and the ability to react quickly to fluctuations in the market dynamics. The CFO needs to have excellent man-management skills, and strong effective working capital management. He needs to establish effective communication between various functions and verticals, thus demonstrating a more cohesive leadership role. The CFO needs to spend more time and energy on being a strategic contributor for driving value in the business.
The CFO’s key challenge is to play a key role in risk identification and mitigation across various operations, and be a flag bearer in ensuring complex regulatory frameworks. Devising and implementing cost optimization strategy is one of the big challenges in today’s highly competitive business scenario with intense and stiff competition on the pricing front so as to ensure margins while ensuring top-line growth.