CFO Shushant Mallik takes a multi-disciplinary approach to finance

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Shushant Mallik, the CFO of DP World in Rwanda, brings an unconventional approach to the role, having taken on responsibility for projects and operations prior to leading a finance function.

Shushant Mallik, the CFO of DP World in Rwanda, brings an unconventional approach to the role, having taken on responsibility for projects and operations prior to leading a finance function.

"When I started, the chartered accountant profession was gruelling, and the passing percentage was only around 5-7 percent. But I realised this profession was more than just numbers; it was about understanding what the data truly means," he says.

After completing his studies, Shushant took on internships at Investment Bank Nepal and the Institute of Chartered Accountants India. His formal career started at S.S. Kothari Mehta & Co., with an initial focus on audits and that quite quickly evolved into an executive role.

Shushant’s desire to gain more exposure to the manufacturing sector resulted in him joining the Mount Meru Group in Rwanda as a financial controller.

“Some of my friends had already worked there so I knew a bit about the company. When I joined, the company was operating at a significant loss, primarily attributed to production, supply chain management, and marketing challenges. Within a short space of time, I was promoted to general manager,” he says.

Opportunity in Africa

Unlike traditional CFOs, Shushant's career trajectory has taken him far beyond the realm of finance.

"I spent the first eight years of my career learning how operations work, how projects work, how trading works. And I believe this kind of exposure is unique to Africa. It's unlikely I would have had this opportunity in other parts of the world," he says.

“Being placed in a family-owned company, I think I'm quite lucky. I'm getting so much exposure and freedom to work,” he adds.

At DP World, Shushant also gets to put a number of his skills to use, as his portfolio encompasses finance & procurement, legal & compliance, project management and business development.

“We have close to 400 people working here. Along with finance, I oversee the project in our major location in Kigali and am also looking at other locations, like Congo DRC, Uganda and Burundi, to provide smart logistics & trade solutions,” he explains.

In addition to embracing opportunities as they arise, Shushant's work ethic has also contributed to his success.

"Challenges are part of the journey. If you bring out-of-the-box ideas, look beyond your job description, and add value to your company's projects, you'll succeed," he says.

"It's not about being frustrated by the loads of responsibility, it's about realising that you have the power to make a difference. When the company trusts you with a task, you ensure it's done right and ethically," he adds.

Passion for trading

This thread runs all the way through to Shushant’s leadership style.

“I love when someone wants to give opinions or suggestions and supporting others to excel. Whatever I have learned, whatever I have experienced in the time, I really want to give it to the team,” he says.

“Being an expat, I will not be here for a long period. So, I make room for other people to learn the operations and challenges here,” he adds.

Interestingly, it was the company’s trust in Shushant that led to the formation of a trading division at DP World, during the height of Covid.

“During the pandemic, the warehouses were empty and I came up with the idea of a trading platform, so that at least our logistics and our warehouse will be engaged in the project. It is working very well and currently has a team of 10 people,” he says.

Shushant’s passion for trading is evident. "Trading is all about discipline. You need to know your environment, stick to your strategy, and stay disciplined. It doesn't matter if you're a long-term investor or a short-term trader; discipline is key."

At the same time, he acknowledges, it is the volatility of the trading business that tops his list of concerns as a CFO.

“The unit is streamlined and the team is very supportive. However, the FMCG market is up and down and that it keeps me busy, and is something very challenging as of my role,” he reveals.

Shushant believes that a number of these same factors are relevant for the sustainability and future outlook for CFOs.

"CFOs need to look beyond the numbers and metrics, and understand the macroeconomics, market dynamics, and commercial opportunities that drive the business," he explains.

Structure and control

On a personal level, Shushant is enjoying his time in-country.

“I find Rwanda excellent in so many ways. People are professional and things are really good. There is structure and control as well as statutory compliances within which to operate,” he explains.

Shushant also highlights the ease of doing business in Rwanda as a positive.

“Where I used to work, it used to take 30 days to open a company. Here you hardly require 30 minutes. So, starting a business is quite easy. The same is true for bank loans. It is very quick and efficient,” he says.

In his spare time, Shushant enjoys trading in equities.

“I focus mainly on equity derivatives. I always invest an hour or two daily to trading. I work on technical charts, review information and catch up on news in the markets,” he says.

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