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BW Businessworld

Creating Value Addition

He is not your regular CFO. His motto is to go beyond numbers to deal with workplace challenges

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For Santhanam Subramanian, one of the key executives at the helm of Hyderabad-based Aurobindo Pharma, success is a relative term. “Be calm and focus on your job with patience,” he says, rather candidly to BW Businessworld. “And, results will automatically follow.”

Touted as one of the leading CFOs in the country, Subramanian (56) prefers to maintain a healthy work-life balance. “I like watching television and listening to music. I typically do not work more than 10-12 hours work a day,” he says.  Walking, exercising and regular family outings – all these feature among his favourite activities during his spare time.

Subramanian joined Aurobindo Pharma in November 2013 and there has been no looking back since then. In his tenure spanning over four years in the company, he has always focussed on activities that have helped create value for Aurobindo Pharma.

Apart from playing a significant role in bringing leverage under control, he has also updated technology to bring in efficiency in several business processes. From time to time, he has also led financial plans for various activities pertaining to mergers and acquisitions, while doing a continuous risk assessment and driving action to mitigate the same.

“I have continuously evaluated potential opportunities and assisted our CEO to sustain the revenue growth and profits with an eye on the risks associated with it,” says Subramanian, a chartered accountant, a cost accountant and a company secretary who carries around 30 years of work experience with him.

Prior to joining Aurobindo Pharma, Subramanian has had stints in several companies including, Gulf Oil, Dalmia Cements and Vedanta Resources.

For the uninitiated, Aurobindo Pharma, founded in 1986, is one of the Top 3 pharmaceutical companies in India, as per 2016-17 revenue. It has also carved a name for itself in the international market – today, it is one of the leading generic companies in the US and Europe.

The company’s robust product portfolio is spread over seven major therapeutic/product areas including antibiotics, anti-retrovirals, cardiovascular (CVS), central nervous systems (CNS), gastroenterologicals, anti-diabetics and anti-allergics, supported by an outstanding R&D set-up. Its competitive advantage lies in the broad portfolio of diversified dosage forms including Rx and OTC oral solids & liquids, injectables, ophthalmics, specialty products and controlled substances. The focus is on complex molecules, differentiated technology platforms and specialty products.

In 2016-17, Aurobindo Pharma witnessed an incremental sales of 8.1 per cent over the previous year at Rs 150,899 million at consolidated level. The company’s diversified product portfolio in oral solids including controlled substances and injectables made all the difference in a challenging and competitive market.

In 2017, the company completed the acquisition of Generis Farmaceutica S.A. in Portugal. In 2014, Aurobindo purchased the generic operations of Actavis in as many as seven western European countries.

“It’s all about integrating risk assessment of the targets with the company’s financial projections,” says Subramanian. His journey, within the company and also in the industry, however, has not been devoid of challenges.  One of them was bringing structured information flow within a short span of time at the beginning of his tenure. Besides, ensuring successful turnaround of the acquired Europe business was key as well. However, challenges go  hand-in- hand with success and given Subramanian’s experience in the industry, he takes them in stride. For him, it’s an ongoing journey.