The whole time Director- Finance & Supply Chain at McCain Foods Abhijeet Kamasamudram shares his thoughts on the liquidity management, virtues of the 2021 CFO and place for sustainability in the CFO mandate.
The pandemic has changed our relationship with the world and particularly with food. The IPO of Zomato which is at the top of the IPO feeding frenzy this year is a good example of how customer behaviour and habits towards food is constantly changing. From convenient seeking online ordering to scare-motivated hoarding from retail outlets, this year has been an anomaly like none other. So how did a company that deals in frozen foods fare? And how has the finance function changed during the pandemic at Mccain?
BW CFO World caught up with Abhijeet Kamasamudram, Wholetime Director- Finance & Supply Chain at McCain Foods to understand how he views the dynamic role of the CFO and his lessons from the pandemic.
Agility- the new CFO Mantra
In a world where uncertainty is the certainty, Kamasamudram believes that agility and resilience are the key tenets that serve as the weathercock for the CFO role, thereby allowing the organisation to change according to the needs of the time. He believes the two traits also hold a place in the list of skills for the ideal CFO who emerges from the ashes of the pandemic environment. Citing the necessary virtues, Kamasamudram adds, “Courage is also highly needed as we need to speak up to the stakeholders about the ever-changing situations”
Fighting The Anomaly
As the pandemic set in and the fear of lockdowns, instigated hoarding behaviour, companies dealing in frozen packaged foods and ready-to-consume varieties had a challenge on their hand- to align their supply chain to the speed of public fear. Offering a perspective on the same, he adds, “In order to maintain an uninterrupted supply and meet customer demands, higher inventory levels had to be maintained which resulted in increased storage costs.”
Like all CFO’s effective liquidity management too remained a top priority. Kamasamudram explains that all discretionary spending was restricted to lower levels and only costs that aided in revenue generation were allowed. Strategies like the renegotiation of payment terms with vendors were also ensured to initiate cash generation and preservation.
The pandemic has also changed the CFO’s relationship with analysing financial data and drawing insights, making quarterly forecasts and outlooks seem obsolete. He explains, “Rolling forecasts and scenario building are essential planning strategies. When the partial/full lockdowns and relaxation norms changed, we had a 10-day review of demand and calibrated all other activities accordingly. The idea of a 12-month view is a bygone activity.”
Talking investments, Kamasamudram opines, “Digital transformation would be an investment focus area and improved digital agility can help in rebuilding the demand, revenues, etc” He continues, “We have ramped up digital media presence, invested in lots of digital initiatives that helped the organisation gain confidence of our channel partners and eventually help in demand generation.”
While the future will be digital it will also belong to those that are sustainable and conscious. Sustainability remains a key focus at Mccain where the company has assured smart farming practices, set out to increase efficiency in operations and switch to healthier ingredient alternatives. Kamasamudram summarises, “Sustainability would remain a key focus area for McCain in the years to come and am happy that we already began.”