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Financial Express CEO awards: Celebrating leadership

Sashidhar Jagdishan (L), CFO, HDFC Bank, receives the Jury Special award from Deepak Parekh.

In corporate set-ups, chief financial officers (CFO) can be equated to the queen on a chessboard. They may not be the face of the company, but they work relentlessly to ensure that the company is financially sound and that the money of stakeholders is generating returns.

It was to celebrate the hard work of these professionals that Financial Express holds the FE CFO Awards every year. The third edition of the Awards was held at the ITC Grand Central in Mumbai on March 26.

HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, the chief guest, said when things go wrong, the first person to be blamed is the CFO. "So as the CFO, it's your job to raise the red flag at the right time. Don't be a silent CFO, assuming things will sort out themselves."

Two dozen CFOs received awards for their outstanding performances amid an applauding audience. FE's Managing Editor Sunil Jain highlighted that these samaritans work away from the limelight. Accepting the lifetime achievement award, Koushik Chatterjee, executive director and CFO, Tata Steel, said, "When I was told that I will be given this award, I wondered that with a lifetime achievement award at age 50, what do I do next?", much to the amusement of the audience. Chatterjee added that his journey to CFO started 15 years ago.

The CFO of the Year award was given to Srinivas Phatak, executive director and chief financial officer, Hindustan Unilever, while Sashi Jagdishan, CFO at HDFC Bank, received the Jury Special award.

The jury was headed by Leo Puri, former managing director, UTI Asset Management Co.; Paresh Sukthankar, former deputy managing director, HDFC Bank; Amit Chandra, managing director, Bain Capital; Pradip Shah, chairman, IndAsia Fund Advisors; and Manish Kejriwal, founder, Kedaara Capital. Deloitte did the initial groundwork of sifting through companies across sectors to come up with a shortlist.