Even after serving in multiple CFO roles and spending 10 years on Wall Street, Manish Sarin still marvels at the plus-size experience that he acquired in the mid-1990s when he worked for Price Waterhouse as a financial advisor in its Nairobi office in Kenya, East Africa.
At the time, Sarin recalls, an abundance of available funding from the World Bank and IMF was enticing growing numbers of state-owned business in the region to privatize their operations as a prelude to jump-starting their capital market strategies.Read More
“These were businesses like steel mills, aluminum plants, car dealerships, and commercial banks—for me, it was just an amazing introduction to how businesses work, what makes them successful or not successful, and how to actually evaluate businesses from a capitalistic perspective,” explains Sarin, who reports that he was the most junior member of the East African privatization practice, a team of 10 people within PW’s 100-employee Nairobi office.
Says Sarin: “Our clients were really the World Bank and IMF—we would go and work at state-owned businesses at their request and then prepare and present our analysis to both the World Bank and the national government.”
Twenty years later, as Sarin prepared to open his first CFO chapter, some of those presentations undoubtedly came to mind as he began to formulate his own vision for the role and the broader business contexts that Wall Street now expects 21st-century finance leaders to deliver.
Along the way, Sarin tells us, he has learned that a broader perspective is being demanded not only by outside stakeholders.
“A few years ago, a head of sales told me, ‘You have great ideas, Manish, but you need to provide greater context and better explain why you are doing the things that you are doing,’” remarks Sarin, who says that he took the advice to heart and has found that adding more context has accelerated his relationship-building with different parts of the organization.
“If a CFO approaches the role from the perspective of occupying a finance swim lane, I think that this is a very narrow view of the role—it has to be much broader, and you have to be thinking, ‘the entire company and what is happening in every department are part of my concern,’” explains Sarin. –Jack Sweeney
Made Possible By
CFOTL: Tell us about Spinklr … what does it do, and what are its offerings today?
Sarin: Sprinklr is an enterprise software company that is looking to unify customer experiences. This might seem esoteric, but let’s take a step back. All of the big brands—from Nike to Coca-Cola—are looking to interact with their end customers. Historically, they would do this through print media. Then they would do it through radio or television. More and more, our interactions are digital, so companies have channels in a variety of social media, from Instagram to Twitter to Facebook to what-have-you. These can obviously change across geographies and across the various brands that these companies have. They’re looking not just to interact with end customers but also to do what’s called “sentiment analysis,” which is listening to them.Read More
Think of it from the perspective of Nike. You’re looking to introduce a new shoe. You want to understand what Jack thinks about this. And not just about this, but also about how this would be perceived when compared to a competitive offering from Adidas, for example. So, this is how our company started—all around customer experiences on social media. We’ve expanded on this to then grow and create workflow tools for marketing and advertising, all around social media again, to help these brands to get the optimum value from their ad dollars.
More recently, because you can’t really unify customer experiences without adding a voice to them, we have begun to provide a single platform with a pane of glass, if you will, that allows these companies to interact with their customers by using live chat, email, social, or voice. Think of it as one platform on which you can interact with your customers, no matter what medium you choose.
Sprinklr | www.sprinklr.com | New York