Cipla SSA CFO Nishant Saxena shares his tips for creating a top team


Nishant Saxena won two Awards at this year’s CFO of the Year Awards – High Performance Team and Young CFO of the Year. He received this recognition because he took Cipla’s struggling, low-margin, sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) unit and turned it into one of the most profitable pharma players in South Africa. In so doing, he completely transformed the finance department, creating a high performance team in the process. Nishant shares his top tips for creating an efficient team.

Have a vision - You need to have a very compelling and inspiring dream at both a company and personal level. The vision of finance as a business partner, for example, or of the company in the top three. And what it would mean to individual careers. Your vision needs to inspire.

Set and monitor smart goals - Visionaries can become dreamers. You need to marry the inspirational ability of a leader with the operational effectiveness of a good manager. So, you need to set specific, measurable, time-bound goals, and you need to do regular reviews. Our vice chair says "People don't do what you expect, but what you inspect, provided you do it with respect."

Organisation structure - Define the structure, based on your key priorities, and then get the right people on the bus and in each role. Never put a round peg in a square hole; work to people's strengths.

Have integrity and trust - "People don't care for how much you know till they know how much you care". You must be trustworthy as a leader and decision-making must be transparent.

Be a good coach - You are in this privileged position because you've had exposure. You must create an environment open to learning and share your experience with others.

Be a good communicator - As a leader, you are also the chief evangelist for the function. How will you ensure your message is clearly understood even three levels down the hierarchy?

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