Kaizen : We listen, we understand and we make it work | Sudeep Trehan
Kaizen, we help them manage their financials in an effective manner and help them forward towards a greater growth of their organisation.
1. Explain what led you start this company, where it is now and your plans for its future.
- We identified a gap in the market for outsourcing CFO services and professional financial services for a long time now. This has always encouraged me to explore the opportunity to start bridging this gap in some way. Many companies, especially SMEs don’t have resources to hire full time CFOs and managerial expertise on their payroll. They have compliance requirements but due to financial constraints they are unable to onboard expertise. So, with Kaizen, we help them manage their financials in an effective manner and help them forward towards a greater growth of their organisation. They get a professional support without straining their pockets. Whatever they spend on these services is actually an investment, not an expense for them.
- We are happy to see the support in the present times as we are reaching out to more growing companies every day. With the same escalation, we plan to reach different industries in UAE, to capitalise more in the UAE market first and then gradually to different territories for expansion.
2. What are the most important qualities that your company and its people embody?
- The most important quality we bring as a company is the vast invaluable experience that our team possesses. We have a collective experience of over 25 years with companies not just in the UAE but also in India, Africa, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and UK. As a consulting company, it is always good to have the knowing and roots at the ground level. Our experience in this market has been for a fairly long time with distinguished geographical boundaries having their own challenges. This just adds up to our worth as a professional service provider.
- Apart from geographical diversity, our team has worked across various industry sectors such as Retail, FMCG Distribution, F&B,Logistics, Manufacturing , Technology Companies and Start ups, with each sector requiring varied levels of strategic financial management. We are a consulting firm with an Industry experience and we provide practical solutions to our clients and help them to execute the same.
3. How did you get to where you are now in your career?
- I am a Chartered Accountant ( Fellow member of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India ) and a member of Accountants & Auditors Association of UAE. I started my corporate ladder from the manufacturing company Sterlite Industries (Part of Vedanta Group). I worked with Sterlite for a long time before moving to Lagos, Nigeria. In Nigeria I got the financial experience by working with different industries including FMCG distribution and Office Automation and Logistics Company.
- Prior to moving to Dubai - UAE in the year 2007, I was a Finance Head of a listed company in Lagos – Nigeria which was providing logistics solutions to the big players in the market.
- I was the CFO for Al Maya Group (leading Retail & Distribution Group in Middle East ) for their worldwide operations in United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain , Kuwait , UK and India for 14 Years . With all the vast experience, Kaizen Business Consultants was born with the aim to support companies and help them grow with our knowledge, qualitative solutions and strategic support.
4. What problem was your company designed to solve?
- The best companies are those who don’t focus only on revenue generation but also on designing a solution around a problem. The problem we saw was the inability of SMEs to hire finance experts and CFOs on Payroll. Many companies honestly don’t even bother to think on those lines. They try to do everything by themselves or put the responsibility on unskilled staff. What happens next is not hard to imagine. Companies start taking wrong financial decisions which ultimately hamper the entire working capital and even bring losses, which would mean the business would not be sustainable. We as an outsourced CFO company came into play to bring a solution to this wide existing problem. By providing the best expert financial services, we help companies with their financial management, working capital, compliances, taxation advisory, business advisory and accounting & book keeping services.
5. What challenges have you seen in the industry through your experience?
- The number one challenge I have seen is there are companies who are profitable but still struggling with cash flow, due to the lack of financial acumen and expertise in the market. I have known and worked with several business owners and have seen them struggling to get an experienced financial support. They end up paying more for less, hiring unskilled staff and defeating their purpose for growth. This doesn’t just impact on the profitability and growth of the company but also affects the professional lives of all the employees in the company. Additionally, we bring unbiased and objective viewpoint as an independent partner to the business. These were the primary challenges we saw and that’s why we entered the market to break the challenges and a sustainable and efficient way of financial management.
6. What would you say to summarise what makes you, well, YOU?
- The vast experience in the diverse industries and in diverse countries has been the major force to create the financial leader in me. The amount of strategic financial approach I can bring to the table wasn’t possible without working diversely throughout my experience. My corporate journey has developed within me self-confidence, strong strategic problem solving skills, an attitude of embracing possibilities and a drive to succeed. .In short, each and every experience has had a contribution to what I am today.
7. Do you have a morning routine?
- I am happily a morning person. I wake up early to do my chores, followed by a good energising exercise and yoga, read for some time, go through the news and then drive to work. I firmly believe that a healthy mind rests in a healthy body and that is why no matter how occupied my schedule is, I always try to make time for physical exercise. Waking up by 6 am helps me get more out of the day.
8. Describe a challenging project that forced you to think outside the box.
- One of the company was providing logistics services and because it was a capital-intensive project, they were struggling to get the funding for their project. We were able to structure a fundraise based on their multiple revenue contracts with their multinational customers.
- Based on these revenue contract, financial institutes were negotiated to and company was able to add vehicles to their fleet.
- This was indeed a very challenging project but we were able to not only get them the funding but also secure the assets.
9. What do you see as the major threats or opportunities for this business? How will your company handle them?
- UAE is a land of opportunity, new businesses are being set up and start-ups are launched in the market, which gives us an opportunity to help them.
- New and growing businesses are open to outsourcing their financial management needs to an outsider expert. This is the biggest opportunity for us to provide them the needed services without straining their pockets. They are able to compete in the market without losing their core financial value. This keeps growing because pandemic has changed a lot of dimensions for the businesses. Now companies aren’t just dependent on payroll staff rather open and suggestive of outsourcing wherever needed. This doesn’t just get their requirement on the table but also helps them save their resources.
- Remember “If you deprive yourself of outsourcing and your competitors do not, you're putting yourself out of business.”
- Regarding the threats, it does not really affect our working because the businesses are innumerable, market is huge and there’s enough for everyone. More players in the market don’t saturate it, rather normalises the culture where services like an Outsourced virtual CFO should be hired.
10. What do your services/solutions offer that are uniquely beneficial compared to the competition?
- Many of the consulting firms I’ve seen working don’t have an experienced background. What happens in consulting is that you should be aware of all the tricks of the game, have played all the knacks on the ground level, only then you can reach a place where you can be a consultant for other businesses.
- This is exactly where we are uniquely beneficial. With our vast industrial and geographical experience and into consulting, we are able to provide the best to our clients. Moreover, we don’t provide generic solutions to our clients. It's no "one size fits all” kind of thing. When every business is different, every challenge is different, in no way the solutions shouldn’t be different. We provide tailor-made strategic solutions after talking to our clients according to their business, industry they operate it, market conditions and the challenges associated.
11. How do you anticipate changes in trends and regulations affecting your products or industry, and what steps have been taken as a result of those analyses?
- Even though we can never completely anticipate them, changes in trends and regulations open up wider opportunities for us to provide services to companies by helping them align themselves to these changes.
- There are new laws, regulations, compliances and recently corporate tax introduction. This is again an opportunity for us as we can predict a trend where companies need to comply and this is where they’d need us.With the growth of start-ups and businesses across the world, it is not hard to imagine how vast it is peaking to the top every day and we are mediators to that growth with the expertise and inputs we bring in.Even if we can’t predict any sudden trend, we are able to cope up with that because experience makes things possible. You know how to roll, your mind does the job.