BT-Yes Bank Best CFOs Survey
Best Woman CFO
Winner: Pratibha K Advani, CFO, NIIT Technologies
As a child, Pratiba Advani wanted to study arts, but a discussion with her father made her crack the chartered accountant entrance exam. Today, Advani is Chief Financial Officer of NIIT Technologies.
Advani has worked with a diverse set of companies- from Kolkata-based tobacco-to-hotel conglomerate ITC to General Electric, Barclays and a handful of private equity firms. She learnt a bit from everyone-to be process driven from ITC, for instance. GE taught her commitment and to stay within the budget allotted and agreed upon, and Barclays taught her how to mitigitate risk.
When Advani joined in 2010, NIIT's entire budgeting was manual and consisted of 70 Microsoft Excel sheets. She introduced a SAP module, and collapsed the month-long process into three to four days.
She was also a part of a big transition from the "time and material" system, which meant working on an hourly basis where payment is calculated by multiplying the number of people by number of hours/days. But the IT industry is moving towards fixed pricing, where the client and the vendor agree to a certain amount and the client pays without bothering about the number of people and hours. Business from the new pricing model was about 20 per cent when Advani joined. Today, it is just over 40 per cent. Advani and her team have worked extensively to win large transformational projects, which are above $10 million, like the ones with Euro Star, Virgin Australia and Cathay Pacific.
How does it feel to have shifted from large companies like ITC and GE? "NIIT is, maybe, a smaller ocean but we are handling a much larger ship. We have 24 subsidiaries and branches across the globe," she says.