Project Finance department, like any other area, has its equal set of opportunities and challenges. Let’s understand the real challenges and future growth of project finance, with the help of an expert who has first-hand experience of working in this field.
Interview with Gautam Bothra, who has a rich experience in Project Finance as part of the in-house team of an MNC IT infrastructure company
Proschool : Please tell us about your background and qualifications
Gautam : I pursued my CA, CS and CWA along with my graduation, while managing my articleship, followed by industrial training. Post my qualifications, I joined my firm and during my job, I also pursued CIMA.
Proschool : Why did you decide to pursue this career and how did you get into this role?
Gautam : Coming from a business family, I always understood the importance of finance and had a knack for it. So when the time came to make a decision, it was a natural call for me. I was always good with numbers so that was a plus. Post qualification, I was interested in core finance and as the role being offered to me was in Project Finance, I took up the opportunity. Even in my articleship days, I had worked on a number of assignments involving greenfield projects. Together with my academic training, this suited the requirements of the job well
Proschool : A typical Day for a Project Finance executive?
Gautam : The role involves the end-to-end financial implementation of different projects that the firm undertakes. So the role requires everything from the initial stage of planning cash flows, to project planning and analysis, project funding, fund management, compliance as well as accounting for reporting purposes. Reporting the project status to various stakeholders also forms a part of the role.
My typical day starts at 9 AM where I first check my emails to see if any urgent tasks require immediate attention. Aside from some time bound deliverables like reporting to the management and preparing timely status reports, it is more of an unstructured day where things are managed as and when they arise.
Proschool : High points in your career so far?
Gautam : Besides availing several qualifications in a short span of time, I find immense satisfaction in being an outstanding performer in my current role. To top things, the satisfaction of imparting my knowledge to my fellow aspirants is another high point in my career.
Proschool : Deals / projects you have worked on?
Gautam : I have worked for greenfield projects (Hospitality projects), IT infrastructure and software projects for banking and financial institutes.
Proschool : Challenges faced?
Gautam : One of the biggest challenges in a finance role is to help the business remain viable. Ensuring that the costs do not exceed the budget, while at the same time understanding that quality cannot be compromised is another challenge in my day-to-day activities. It is imperative to understand the needs of various stakeholders and manage their requirements without compromising on the business side of business
Proschool : Outlook for the industry?
Gautam : The recession of 2008 did not impact our business much since the IT infrastructure gap in India is huge. Having said that, we still had to take a bit of a hit in our margins due to cost cutting across industries.The recent elections have put up a stable government, improving the overall industry sentiment. Our current Prime Minister is a great champion of IT which has brought good news for us too and we expect to see a lot of spending in improving and installing IT infrastructure in both public and private sectors
Proschool : Career opportunities for aspirants in India (and elsewhere)?
Gautam : With increasing complexities of business and globalization, standards are being changed at a pace faster than we can imagine. This throws up a lot of opportunities in various segments of finance. I believe the industry at this point, has more demand than supply
Proschool : Word of advice for aspirants?
Gautam : I feel that an aspirant in finance should lay a lot of emphasis on conceptual understanding over rote learning. It is also important to simultaneously work on soft skills and communications. This would go a long way in building a robust career in finance. All the best.