How has your journey with IFIN been so far

It has been great. I was a bit apprehensive before joining, since I was getting back into financial services after a long time. However, I soon realised that I was just operating from a different side of the table, and had never really left.
My prime criteria to join an organisation was a good people culture; and IFIN is renowned for the same. Everybody has been extremely welcoming and has exhibited tremendous patience in getting me up to speed on various matters. People have made the effort to understand me as an individual, rather than only focusing on what work I have done and what I can deliver.  

According to you, what are the most important characteristics of a leader

The concept of ‘shadow of the leader’ is an important concept I learnt in a culture training session. This construct, whilst so simple, is so powerful. As leaders, we cast our shadow around us, greatly influencing people and consequentially, organisational behavior.
Integrity’ is a non-negotiable quality that cannot be compromised; it is an ethic, which, by definition, refers to a set of moral principles. A leader must also innately possess a ‘Confident Outlook’, since it is important to have people listen to you. This doesn’t mean that confidence has to be exhibited even in circumstances where one lacks the requisite knowledge; and this is exactly where ‘Humility’ fits in. It is necessary to be humble towards your colleagues & peers, juniors, support staff, and most importantly, towards yourself and your own abilities. Last, but definitely not the least, is ‘Empathy’. In an organisation that is multi-faceted, success depends largely on team-work. It is necessary to possess the ability to put oneself in the shoes of the other person and think through their perspective. Empathy allows for multiple perspectives, facilitates better collaboration, allows one to have a friendly and trustworthy persona, and to be more understanding.

What interests you about being a Legal Counsel for a Corporate?

In one sentence, it is the ability to be at the center of nearly everything that happens in an organisation. The in-house legal profession has seen a transformation over the last couple of decades. In-house counsels are now not lawyers, but aspiring business partners. They are aware of the strategic importance of certain transactions, are involved in gatekeeping and also provide counsel outside of day-to-day transactions - all of which is exciting. While in-house counsels may not necessarily be specialists, their holistic perspective on various aspects of business and the ingrained training to ‘look-around-the-corners’ helps in their ability to provide good counsel to stakeholders across the board.
This is what has kept me in good stead over the years. I did dabble with being in a law firm, but I missed the adrenalin rush of being associated with something from the start. I’ve always advocated to my teams that the comment ‘this is a business call’ should find limited place in their vocabulary because, as in-house counsel, we need to be as business-focused as the teams we are working with. Sometimes, given our knowledge – and more importantly, understanding - of the legal system, we are in a better position to assist our partners in taking a business call.

How do you keep yourself and your team motivated to keep up with the constantly changing dynamics of the legal industry

Unlearning something that you have practised for long is not always easy, but change brings excitement with it. Driving home the point that each one’s role is critical to the functioning and success of the organization is a strong motivational tool – it helps to know that the legal function is a business enabler and not a mere support function. I try to impress upon the team that each one needs to have strong knowledge of the facts of a matter since it is these facts, equipped with their knowledge of the law, which will help them provide good business solutions rather than being someone who merely reviews documents.

Can you describe the proudest accomplishment in your legal career, so far

Without a doubt, it is the last few months at my previous organisation. The beauty of a start-up is that everyone does everything – there is a participative approach to all things new. Right from the time I had joined in 2010 (when it was still a start-up), the organization was venturing into new avenues, and in time, I became a business guy masquerading as a lawyer. I was often requested to shift to a business role, but I am glad that I did not; the holistic perspective of being in Legal offered me an opportunity to become a better leader. Being actively involved – as both a legal leader and a business representative - in the India wind-down process gave me tremendous confidence and continues to be a source of great pride.

Is the new Bankruptcy Law a blessing in disguise for NBFCs or will it make matters tougher

Laws relating to insolvency have been spread across the Companies Act, 1956, Companies Act, 2013, Provincial Insolvency Act, Presidency Town Insolvency Act (the latter two being with respect to individuals), the Sick Industrial Companies Act, the Partnership Act, and the Limited Liability Partnership Act (LLP Act). These statutes had different mechanisms and approaches to insolvency and winding up, and some were also used as pressure tactics for recovery of dues. A revised law that covers bankruptcy and insolvency of corporates and individuals alike with the aim to restructure and revive the existing laws through professional management, was a logical step.
There will no doubt be a learning curve, but it is never premature to make that start. The driving of operations of a company by a new set of individuals is not going to be easy, but this is where the creditors will play a key role. Come to think of it, it is an interesting paradigm shift – there is an effective substitution of the office of the Official Liquidator by a slew of new professionals who I can call “professional liquidators”, giving lenders a greater say in the restructuring process.
I believe that India is at the peak of radical change in the resolution of its stressed asset portfolio - a cautious approach will no doubt be required, and I am keeping my fingers crossed and looking forward to the dawn of a new horizon.

Do you have a hobby or a passion outside of work that you would like to pursue?

I am a very gregarious person and love meeting new people. I would love to be in the hospitality industry and set up a small bed-and-breakfast (with me cooking the breakfast!!) for my guests. I really enjoy the company of pets, and would love to be doing something for the abandoned ones. Finally, something that I was very passionate about but have lost connect with over the last 2-3 years, is cycling. I enjoy long rides and discovering new roads and eateries (I am quite the vegetarian foodie!) in the process. I am itching to get back on the saddle (and I really need to as well, judging from my current levels of fitness!), so keeping my fingers crossed on that one.



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