Finance Webinar: The Impact of Data & Technology on the Finance Function With Tejaswini Rajwade

Did you know that 50% of finance CEOs believe that companies are not keeping up with the rapid change and growth in technology with regards to customer demands and business platforms? Therefore, the need to evolve strategies is higher than ever, reveals Tejaswini Rajwade, Chief Financial Officer, India/South Asia at IBM. With 22 years and counting at tech behemoth IBM, she has stellar work experience in audit firms and multinationals and has worked in countless areas of finance like Planning, Forecasting, Budgeting to Expense Management, Audit, Taxation, and Business Controls and much more. 

CEOs must become torchbearers of embedding technology in finance

It comes as no surprise that she believes that companies need to look at end-to-end data rather than just financial data alone. Leveraging AI, IoT, and cloud computing is a must if a company needs to remain relevant and therefore, CEOs must become torchbearers of these. Data is the most valuable thing today. She believes that cloud-based platforms are the best way to organize data, but, the most important aspect of it is to ensure that the data is clean. Data hygiene ensures a smooth ingesting or processing. Moreover, professionals need to be cognizant about data privacy and cyber risks, since there are a lot of risks that do come with deeper tech. But this does not mean that one should not take risks and use it for the betterment of the company. 

Spend time with your IT department, get yourself an IT buddy or a mentor

For Tejaswini, success is not something that can be achieved singlehandedly because “you’re only as successful as your team” and that is why everyone needs to be analytical and technical. Tech skills are not just relegated to the IT department and every working person today must take the onus on themselves to learn and upskill, spending at least 10 hours each week for this purpose. Business leaders who want to embrace data science must not only implement tech in their own companies but must also ensure that their partnerships who share their passion for it. Be agile, innovate, accelerate speed, and also be customer-centric by making use of both real-time and historical data. But, let’s admit that creating multidisciplinary teams is a challenge because many are still stuck in the old notion of CA, IT professional, etc. We need to move beyond these and think about ways to merge existing skills with data science, so analyze your portfolio. If you are a CA, she suggests that they start learning by themselves by taking baby steps. Spend time with your IT department, get yourself an IT buddy or a mentor because the foundation is already there, you just need to build upon that.

Indian women have a tendency to think themselves to be “bony, brittle, babies”, but be “Elastigirl”

Her advice to women in finance is to have a growth mindset and be unafraid of taking risks. “Don’t be myopic. You have to extremely flexible and resilient to succeed.” Indian women have a tendency to think themselves to be “bony, brittle, babies”, but Tejaswini wants them to be like “Elastigirl” (from The Incredibles), and she constantly strives to be like the famous superhero character. She agrees that Indian women have to break the homemaker/caregiver mold that has been driven into girls since childhood. Women may the aptitude to work in finance, but it’s not enough, one needs the right attitude too. “You need to be ablaze with wanting,” and to help it along, women need to go find themselves pillars of support, friends, family members, mentors. Finally, she added, “Just go for it, don’t listen to others, and stay true to your heart.”

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