Rakhi Aswal is the Chief Financial Officer of Saxo Group India. Having spent more than a decade managing finance function of leading companies, she now oversees the accounting, finance, compliances and taxation of Saxo Bank’s Indian subsidiary.
Prior to joining Saxo Group, Rakhi was the CFO and Partner of a reputation management advisory, Astrum. At Astrum, being a member of the founding team of the advisory, she had set up the finance and MIS function of the organization from scratch. Before this, she was Head of Finance of a US based IT consulting company Emtec Inc. in India, where she was involved in various assignments, including implementation of a global ERP system, setting up of financial processes and building a robust financial reporting structure to service the firm’s worldwide operations.
Rakhi is a qualified Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Certified Financial Manager (India) and Certified Public Accountant (State of Colorado, USA). She has completed Post Graduate Program from the University of California & Los Angeles, USA, and has also participated in various executive programs at IIM-A, IIM-B and ISB.
Our Exclusive Interview:
1.How would you describe yourself in 5 or less sentences?
I am a person who believes in seeking a better version of myself every single day. Someone who makes a conscious effort to learn something new every day and keep the growth journey on. I am a voracious reader, and it seldom happens that I am not indulging in couple of books at any point of time. I love travelling and have travelled to more than 20 countries so far.
2. What is the one quality you admire in today’s leaders and what is the one quality you find lacking them?
Quality of today’s leaders that I admire is the confidence, aggressiveness, urge to do something new and go out of the comfort zone.
Quality that probably many leaders have to still work on is the selflessness to think beyond just their own organisation or their people and work more towards the common good of the society.
3. What does work life balance mean to you?
Work life balance to me is the flexibility and independence to plan my schedule and prioritize my work/family based on the circumstances. There are times when my work takes priority over my personal life, and I have to give my 200% there. Or it could be vice-versa. Its not about giving 50% to each area but giving more than 100% to an area when it is rightly needed.
4. What has been one of the biggest challenges as a leader?
As a leader the biggest challenge is to understand people’s psychology and managing them. It’s very important to understand what motivates anyone as its different for different people. Something, I believe, can be learnt by experience but can’t be taught.
5. Who do you look up to for inspiration?
Lot of things inspire me. But what inspires me the most would be challenging situations, being in uncharted territory. In challenges, one has opportunity to experience and try new things that has never been done before. And of course, mentoring that I receive from my professional mentors and managers have immensely motivated me to keep going and reach out for newer heights.
6. What are the best ways that leaders can support other leaders, whether in the same organisation or a different organisation?
If the leadership community stops being insecure and start learning from each other through knowledge sharing, discussing best practices and enriching experiences, that would help the leadership community to not only achieve individual or organisational goals but also will touch human life at large. Thanks to TLOI in taking a step in this direction by bringing lot of inspiring leaders together under the same forum.
7. What was the last book you read and how did it impact you as an individual
The last book I read is “A man called Ove” written by Fredrik Backman- it’s about a 59-year-old Swedish man who is all alone in his life now. He is very meticulous about everything he does. But then how a new generation comes into his life to bring fun and liveliness into his life. It’s a must read for all. It has made me realise how a new generation can impact life of older generation and give them hope and zeal to live all over again.
8. What do you do to rejuvenate, to get back in touch with yourself?
I meditate every morning for 15 minutes. It makes me feel energised for the entire day. Reading is another way for me to take a break from the outer world. I have my yearly challenge of 30 books, out of which I have already completed 28 books so far. So, books are really my favourite escape route. I also love spending time with my daughter, taking her out for stroll in the park, almost every evening.
9. Your take on open door policy.
Without an iota of doubt in my mind, I strongly believe leaders must be approachable and around for their people. It has been time and again proven that having a good rapport with the team can have very positive impact on team’s productivity. And, anyways, what is a leader without his/her team!
10. If not a corporate leader, what would your professional identity be?
Probably running an NGO, full time. I am already involved with many. Two causes that are very close to my heart is education to under privileged children and environment protection
Know the Person
1. Loyalty to you is Accessibility
2. Fun and recreation to you is Nature
3. Experience vs Education – what would you give higher preference to Right mix of both
4. Mountains or the beach: your ideal vacation spot would be Beach
5. Horror, Action, Adventure, Romantic, Comedy – your favourite genre Comedy – Drama