Results driven, self-motivated and resourceful are the words that best describe Sanja Verma; the Chief financial controller for Japan Motors. Having spent about two decades in the automobile industry, he has a proven record of providing key financial data, support and reporting to assist in key business decisions. In this interview with Carol Opata – Hogan he talks about his career, role at Japan Motors, the high cost of doing business in Ghana and many more……
How will you describe yourself?
I am a goal getter, hard worker and I believe in excellence
How did you climb the success ladder?
I began my career in the auto-mobile industry in India in 1998 I worked for two years there before I moved to Nigeria where I worked for 8 years. I joined Japan motors afterwards, and I have been here for almost 9 years.
What is it like being CFO for Japan Motors?
It is a tough task; being the CFO is a major and big role. It goes beyond book keeping and accounting. I manage the company’s resources for good returns. I ensure that the right investment is made; I manage the risks, controls and take critical decisions. In a business environment like Ghana’s the job gets tougher.
How will you rate Ghana’s Business environment?
I will rate Ghana 6 out of 10. The risk of returns is very less. The cedi depreciates by almost 30 % every year, borrowing cost is very high, the depreciation of the cedi does not help. It’s a tough business environment where small payers are not likely to survive.
What is your typical day like?
I start my day at 5.30 a.m., I plan my day before leaving home. By 7.30 a.m I am on my seat. All the tasks I have assigned to my deputies and colleagues are usually on my table, I meet with team and we get to plan for the day. I also meet with my CEO and other stake holders.
How should the CEO and CFO work Together?
The CEO and CFO are to work together to achieve company’s targets. The Finance controller has to control the assets, make the best investments, while the CEO achieves his target without touching the financial aspects. It’s very important they work together.
What are some of the challenges you face as CFO?
The biggest challenge is the high cost of finance, it makes me extra careful managing the working capital, if the working capital is not carefully managed, even small players in the industry will not survive.
With the high cost of finance in Ghana, how does a company survive short cash fall?
It means enough money is not being generated to cover the expenses. Its means that Outflow should be measured very narrowly and every expense should be justified. Otherwise, if you are not managing cash properly, forget your business in Ghana or anywhere in the world
What advise will you give to new entrants in the industry?
My first advice to them is to have confidence in the business, they must be objective. Professional ethics and integrity is also key while on the job. Their decisions must always be in favour of the company.
If you were not an accountant, what profession would you have chosen?
I would have been an Engineer.
What are your projections for the next five years?
I see myself as Japan Motors’ Director of Finance for West Africa.