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BW Businessworld

Many People Referred COVID-19 as a ‘Black Swan’ and an Unexpected Event, But I Don’t Agree To The Same: Sanjeev Mehta

The 4th edition of the BW Businessworld Best CFO Summit & Awards 2020 ended with the keynote address by Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman, and Managing Director, Hindustan Unilever Limited, President, Unilever South Asia, and Member, Unilever Leadership Executive.

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In the past five years, the chief financial officer role has seen a significant shift. Recently, the position has transitioned from managing the financial health of the organization to becoming more strategic within the company. They are no longer focusing solely on accounting, reporting and regulatory demands, but because of their unique perspective, they are focusing on the entirety of the organization—including increased involvement in technology and digital strategies. 

The 4th edition of the BW CFO Awards 2020 started with the keynote address by Mr. S Ravi - Founder & Managing Partner , Ravi Rajan & Co.LLP / Chairman & Director, UTI Trustee Company Pvt.Ltd. & Former Chairman , BSE Limited and an ending Keynote by Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Unilever Limited, President, Unilever South Asia and Member, Unilever Leadership Executive.

Hailing from a finance background, Mehta explained that, “many people referred to COVID-19 as a ‘Black Swan’ singular and an unexpected event, but I don’t agree to the same. On the contrary, I tend to agree more with the “heard stampeding black elephant,” multiple, predictable and economically catastrophic events.” 

The onset of such events was actually known but people have been in denial of their existence. Professor Andrew Cunningham of Zoological Society of India had advised that the emergence and spread of COVID-19 is not only predictable but pretty much predicted! 

Eventually, countries and citizens around the world are learning to live with this virus. Economic activities are slowly and surely limping back. 

Further, at Unilever Mehta claims that their company has been an active participant in helping the people of our nation in such hard times. “we recognised the crippling impact it could have on the country and also announced a 100 cr fund as soon as PM Narendra Modi addressed the need of funds for our people. 

Talking about getting better on economic front, Mehta stated “CFO’s role in digital strategy will likely grow further in the future with more involvement in data design. The CFO typically owns the data for the organization, and the challenge of transitioning volumes of data into useful information. The CFO has the ability to key into the information that is most important to grow or defend the organization, understand the market and the customer base.”